Business Aug 01, 2022

2022 of the Video Streaming Industry: a year of undergoing changes and challenges

2020 has been a catalytic year of significant change. The pandemic has changed our communication habits, where video has become the new normal, undermining traditional communication methods and opening the door to the massive universe of video communication.

The same direction has also gone in the way we consume content. The long months of quarantine have dramatically increased the demand for online video content, establishing a global video streaming industry trend. Live streaming has become the preferred way to consume content. Many OTT and social platforms such as Facebook and Youtube have experienced massive growth in live viewership, especially in eSports and video games. Current statistics indicate that the video streaming industry will make up 82 percent of Internet traffic by 2022 (Interdigital, 2020), and by 2030, the live streaming industry will reach $534 billion. However, there is no shortage of challenges for significant competitors, who must adapt to this world in constant change to survive, accelerated in part by new forms of disintermediation and de-verticalization, the result of digital transformation and the shift to Web 3.0.

So let's look at the main trends in the large and profitable video streaming industry.

Over-the-top (OTT): between new opportunities and challenges

Even before the pandemic, people have increasingly adopted over-the-top (OTT) services for entertainment, live sports, educational video streaming industry, fitness streaming, and more. OTT refers to streaming video and media delivered over the Internet without a cable or satellite provider subscription via a website or app. Their offers of unlimited and instant access to high-quality original content made them popular, especially during the lockdown months when millions of people worldwide spent full days binge-watching TV series and live events. Famous ones include Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, and HBO, among many others.

Netflix, the undisputed top global provider of OTT video services, now has 73.28 million paid subscribers in the United States and Canada and 220.67 million worldwide. It owes its success to original programming. But this enormous spending on content drives many competitors toward new business models, especially when 2022 revealed data in the first trimester that was not particularly enticing. Netflix reported a decline in subscribers for the first time since the service launched in 2008. With 221.6 million customers certified as of March 31, the year's first quarter ended with 200,000 fewer paying viewers than the last count, and further declines will occur next quarter.

But it is not the only one; according to Deloitte, more than 150 million users terminated their subscriptions worldwide, such that 2022 got labeled 'the year of the great abandonment.' The leading cause is increased competition within the video streaming industry, a veritable 'platform war' that has made it difficult for consumers to afford multiple services. The churn rate has become a severe concern for streaming operators, who have spent considerable resources on producing new content as a key to retaining subscribers. Other reasons include niche streaming services, such as Crunchyroll, the streaming platform for anime, which are increasingly capturing a slice of traffic.

Overall, OTT industry estimates remain optimistic, with a CAGR of 29.4 percent from 2020 to 2027. Subscription video on demand (SVOD) will remain the most significant revenue segment, and user penetration of streaming video platforms will rise to 35% by 2025. More conservative estimates project a mere CAGR of 7% in the 2022/2025 period (ITMediaConsulting 2022/2025), predicting a transition from SVOD to AVOD, advertising video-on-demand.

The same young people who have skyrocketed the numbers of SVOD paid video services are now transiting to ad-supported platforms, given their increased involvement in social media and their voracious consumption of video games. Therefore AVOD asserts itself as a means of diversification to build user loyalty.

The new frontiers: from social media and live streaming to gaming and metaverse

Social media, games, live streaming platforms, and the metaverse drive viewers away from linear TV and VOD content resembling TV. In social media, short-form videos are popular, particularly on the platform of the moment, Tiktok. This content is taken up more than TV offers and entertains as much if not more than OTT platforms. Even Netflix admits that TikTok is one of its biggest competitors.

Live streaming platforms and apps have become sought-after during the pandemic, and today streamers are known as Hollywood stars. Amazon's largest live-streaming platform, Twitch, has seen its viewing hours increase by 101 percent throughout 2020. It’s among the best known, along with social media that have integrated such functions as Tiktok Live, Instagram, Facebook Live, and Youtube Live.

Meanwhile, new consumer demand for the so-called metaverse is beginning. However, this technology is still in its infancy and there is no precise prediction about future impacts in the entertainment industry and beyond. One thing is sure: for younger people, entertainment is increasingly social, interactive, personalized, and brings real-world characteristics that the endless possibilities of digital extend.
Social media and social gaming already resemble metaverse much more than video streaming, where consumers increasingly want to interact with content and personalize their experiences.

This trend is reflected in the gaming industry's growing entertainment market share, thus incentivizing tech giants to invest in the sector. Sony just bought Bungie and Microsoft signed an agreement with Activision Blizzard. Also, Netflix has recently entered the games space, offering new video game exclusives and interactive content alongside its 'TV alike' content.

Speaking of television and linear content, the boom of Video on Deman (VOD) had led some analysts to predict its death, while the opposite has happened. The rise of live streaming consumption affirmed in 2020 does not seem destined to diminish. At its epicenter is sports.

Live streaming Sports takeover the video streaming industry

Live sporting events are back, and even though TV remains the preferred option, some of the most prominent players in the online video streaming industry have struck deals with major sports leagues and organizers of global sporting events. In the United States, for example, giants such as Disney, Hulu, and Amazon have expanded their streaming agreements with the National Football League, with Amazon getting exclusive rights to Thursday Night Football.

For sports content delivery, OTT platforms remain in the lead, the most relevant being Dazn and Sky in Europe and Espn in the United States. Tremendous opportunities for the video streaming industry competitors, especially in this 2022 year of sports, were ushered in by the Winter Olympics in Beijing. Fans can watch major global events like the Commonwealth Games or the FIFA World Cup in Qatar next winter. But there will also be enormous challenges for content providers and live sports streaming services, the main one being ensuring low latency, which an implemented intelligent multi-CDN strategy can achieve.

The critical technologies

Low latency is the technology behind the trends described above.  Low latency streaming has become crucial since the pandemic, as all daily activities have depended on real-time video. However, most live streaming is not technically live, given the delays of several seconds in live transmissions. Since interactivity is the watchword today, content distributors hope for sub-second delivery very soon, while today, we still hover around three to forty-five seconds!

Connection speed is essential for smooth content delivery, and 5G comes to the rescue in this. The year 2022 is the year of 5G spread given the further pushes for urbanization. Equal importance also has streaming protocol used to transmit a live stream, and today the next-generation formats such as WebRTC, SRT, and HLS have improved performance. The difficulty of achieving smooth, low-latency video distribution goes beyond good connectivity and new streaming protocol; it requires a consistent digital infrastructure, which ZEGOCLOUD's solutions enable.

On the image quality front, HD video is a standard, and viewers are looking for Ultra HD (UHD) compatible devices and related content. Ultra HD will become a significant growth driver for streaming services, even more so than 4K. All major streaming platforms have included premium content in 4K in their offerings, and some also offer a higher resolution to view the video in 8K. Demand for high-quality video content has experienced unprecedented growth over the past three years due to devices that support 4K video playback, such as large-diameter televisions, laptops, and especially smartphones.

The mobile phone is the most preferred device.

The smartphone is now the preferred video broadcasting medium, surpassing TV in terms of growth, and this is partly due to mobile networks offering broadband and LTE services. Partnerships between streaming services and mobile networks are also trending, offering customers incentives for increased content consumption, which further boosts the video streaming industry.

As 5G continues to grow and hybrid and decentralized work increases, live contributions through mobile phones are rising. Mobile networks which include 5G and cellular bonding have surpassed satellite for live contribution (Haivision Broadcast IP Transformation Report, 2022).

According to Statista, global viewers spent 548.7 billion hours with live streaming apps in 2021, up from 482.5 billion in 2020, a trend expected to accelerate as new streaming apps and upgraded devices are constantly released.

Summing up

The year 2022 has paved the way for innovative inclusions and trends in the video streaming industry, becoming one of the most widely used technologies of the 21st century. Once considered an entertainment medium has now expanded into critical business areas. Today, video streaming - along with music - dominates the landscape. OTT streaming platforms keep growing but must attend to the audience's need for interactivity, especially younger audiences.

Social media platforms and video games have enhanced live streaming, making it an interactive medium bordering on the metaverse. Millions of companies around the world have undergone positive changes using streaming technology. Live streams to market products and services are a growing trend in the video streaming industry that suggests significant business established in East Asia. Therefore, companies must equip themselves with solutions that facilitate online shopping and retail streaming, such as those proposed by ZEGOCLOUD.

Streaming allows for enhanced marketing, social media presence, and customer experience. We will discuss this, live streaming retail market, and interactive e-commerce soon. Follow our blog to stay updated!

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