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As we take stock of the streaming industry and its performance over the past year, it is clear that this has been a banner year for growth. The industry analyst Stream Hatchet estimates that total online streaming viewership figures have grown by almost 50% since 2020 — itself a record year for online streaming.
If current trends continue, streaming and livestreaming will far outstrip virtually any other form of entertainment, digital or otherwise. However, that’s not the full story. The winners from the race to dominate online streaming are set to be the platforms that have embraced innovation and shown an ability to identify consumer trends before anyone else.
Streaming is not a monolith, with a wide range of applications, formats, and technologies being used across the sector, with some showing more promise than others. With that in mind, here is our round-up of the streaming trends that look set to completely change the game and take over the world.
It would be remiss to discuss streaming trends without pointing out that user-generated content (UGC) continues to dominate and is not set to be displaced by OTT anytime soon. While headlines focused on major brand developments such as the launch of Disney Plus or the latest Netflix price increases, the real story has been unfolding on social media.
The vast majority of all streaming consumption growth over the past year has taken place on TikTok, Youtube, Twitch, and Facebook, all of which have experienced double-digit growth in both content creators and viewers. When we say that people are streaming more than ever, this is largely what we mean.
It is no longer enough to simply offer passive streaming experiences that are no different from TV. Across various platforms and media, the demand for interactive streaming content is growing considerably.
Research shows that viewers spend an average of eight times as much time viewing a livestream with interactive features, such as reacts and prompts, than they would spend watching a non-interactive stream.
The success of this format has been famously popularized by the likes of Netflix, with its choose-your-own-adventure streaming content on exclusive series such as Black Mirror. It is also evident in other areas, such as the online casino industry. For example, the online casino gaming platform Betway offers extensive livestream casino options, where users can play blackjack and poker with an actual casino dealer, with whom they can interact via a chatbox. This is streaming that is dedicated to keeping your attention.
Increasingly, streaming technology is being applied beyond the realm of content. This is perhaps most evident when one looks at customer service, which is currently being transformed by live streaming software to reach and assist customers better than ever before.
For example, major technology brands such as AT&T and Virgin Media now make extensive use of live streaming technology to show customers how to set up home Wi-Fi devices or troubleshoot problems. In addition, international real estate companies such as Nest and Rightmove have made extensive use of live streaming technology to provide live viewings to clients all over the world.
Meanwhile, lifestyle brands such as Bon Appetit have rolled out extensive live streaming services to show subscribers how to follow their unique recipes and kitchen tips. What these brands are doing is demonstrating that live streaming can be adopted to forge a deeper, more impactful connection with customers.
One of the more irritating live streaming trends of the past few years (to some) has been the rise of long-form content, which has become so ubiquitous on platforms such as Netflix that it has inspired a regular output of memes and jokes.
However, those of us who are tired of every new series consisting of 28 90-minute-long episodes will be relieved to hear that short-form content is officially back.
In response to increasing evidence that most people simply no longer have the attention span or commitment to watching regular long-form content, streaming giants such as Hulu and Netflix are pivoting back to short-form content, often described in the industry as a series with episodes ranging between 12 minutes and 30 minutes in length.
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This was evidenced by the Disney Plus series Wandavision, one of the biggest streaming releases of the past year, where most episodes fell well below the 30-minute mark. It can also be seen in hit streaming releases of 2021 such as HBO’s Hacks, Amazon Prime’s The Underground Railroad, and Couple’s Therapy. Picking up a new TV series is no longer the gargantuan commitment that it once was.
These are the top streaming trends that are transforming how we are consuming media. Expect these technologies and applications to become increasingly ubiquitous in the months and years ahead.