The Future Of The Streaming Wars Pt 1

The war is getting more difficult every day…

This Week In AdTech


The streaming wars, I know, the title sounds like it’s a Reality TV show on A&E: maybe I’m thinking of storage wars? Nonetheless, the streaming wars are an official thing. However, I don’t think it will be a single company that’s victorious. I think it will be the consumers & advertisers that will be.

My reasoning for this is, as more streaming services enter the landscape, consumers will have more choices. This means VOD (Video On Demand) providers will need to niche down their content to their audience, as well as provide their userbase a personalized experience.

This will be a future where there are more personalized streaming services: i.e. a future where advertisers and consumers win. This topic will be a 2 part series. In this article, I will cover why niching down content matters (in part 2, I will cover pricing & advertising).

When a market becomes oversaturated, you need to find a way to differentiate yourself. Niching down is usually the best way to differentiate yourself, especially for VOD providers. Yes, you can use new features to try to differentiate your service.

However, features are only a short term fix. Nothing is stopping your competitors from copying your features and making your unique feature the norm for the industry (what Facebook did to Snapchat is what initially comes to mind). The only way to win in the future is to produce original programming that your audience will love.

Fortunately, this is something that has been done before. Broadcast networks like Syfy (which only produces science fiction programming) and Lifetime (which only produces programming for women) are great examples of niching down, creating great content for your audience, and forever being at a point of leverage.

However, even though those networks are good examples, VOD providers will need to provide their users with an even more niche down personalized experience to win their attention.

You may be asking “how can this be achieved”, well the answer is data, sort of. Data is important. However collecting the right data, the right way, and using it to solve the right problem is the real answer.

If you’re uncertain, read Netflix’s article on personalization on their website. They are literally doing this, which is why if you were to look at 10 Netflix home screens from various users, you would have 10 completely different viewing experiences.

Despite Netflix having a large catalog of content in different genres, their personalization machine learning algorithm (Cinematch) is the key component to their competitive advantage.

Their algorithm utilizes collaborative filtering as a framework (a mathematical method of learning a user based on other users), then they built their own custom personalization solution on top of it for extreme user-level personalization.

This provides every user of the service their own niche down personalized experience. Any VOD service provider can offer a similar experience. Nonetheless, they will need to collect data on everything their users are doing, of course, while being CCPA/GDPR compliant.

As a VOD service, you should be able to answer these following questions at a minimum:

  1. When does a user use our service (time & day on average) and how long do they stay on?
  2. What type of content combination do they like?
  3. Why did they engage with a particular show or movie?
  4. What is the unique probability of an individual user to click on a particular show/movie?
  5. What will make a single, unique user engage more and what is their risk of unsubscribing from our VOD service?

That, as well as also delivering the service with no interruptions, but that’s a topic for another day…

These are all questions that you should be able to answer, and if you can not, I will be releasing articles that cover how to answer these questions. From how to collect this data, to how to use the data.

Thanks for reading my article, feel free to reach out to me on Linkedin if you would like to chat more on this topic.