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Netflix, Disney +, Twitch.
These are common streaming brands in the lives of many Singaporeans today. The popularity of both platform-generated and user-generated content has increased as millions experienced lockdowns or began their work-from-home arrangements, especially since 2020. According to Blackbox’s May 2022 polling survey, 60% of Singaporean households subscribe to some form of streaming service today.
However, as the world begins to open and people start travelling, the competition for people’s time and attention span has only intensified. Coincidentally, 3 in 5 Singaporeans are looking to do away with at least one streaming service in the next 6 months.
Why is streaming so popular?
Like many of today’s newest trends, the popularity of streaming has been attributed to COVID-19, specifically the lockdown. Bereft of the ability to travel and social interactions, yet having easy access to the Internet, people had a lot of free time to watch shows and livestreams. Streaming was incredibly convenient given how shows were not tied to schedules and one could always watch something they missed at a later or convenient time.
The personalisation of streaming content was another key factor behind its popularity. People could easily curate their favourite shows and genres on their home pages. With the huge variety of content available, there is something for everyone.
For example, Twitch categorises its content based on game titles. Within each game title, there could be a huge variety of content related to it. Under the Genshin Impact category, users could tune into casual gameplays, story quests, dungeon raids, stories on lore, or even watch a player become angsty live on camera.
Streaming is also highly affordable. Most streaming platforms can operate on mobile devices. User-generated platforms such as Twitch and YouTube are free with optional paid perks, such as ad-free streaming, and users looking to stream on said platforms can use basic tools like OBS or Streamlabs. 41% of polled Singaporeans expressed enthusiasm for using social media platforms for live streaming and joining online communities. Meanwhile, for context, platforms such as Disney + and Netflix generally cost around SGD 12-13 dollars per month.
Where is everyone going?
Streaming platforms’ biggest threat today is not other streaming platforms. It is the fact that people are venturing out of their homes. As the world begins to open again, more people are beginning to travel or just go out. While 55% of polled Singaporeans expressed that it is a good change to watch new movie releases through streaming platforms at home instead of at the cinemas, this number will only likely decrease as people head out and experience social interactions again.
The piracy factor might be at play here, with 40% of polled Singaporeans saying that they do not pay for any streaming service. While some could just be sharing accounts with others who are paid subscribers, and some may genuinely not be interested, it is also possible that piracy is just an easy alternative to paying for content.
The future of streaming
Streaming services are unlikely to disappear anytime soon. With an entire generation of millennials and Generation Z embracing the streaming life, platforms are unlikely to see a sudden loss in subscribers. But as the competition for people’s time intensifies, platforms will need to come up with new strategies to engage with their subscribers.
Piracy is an unlikely source for a strategy but it does offer insights. Often, piracy is a symptom of an unmet need, namely a singular platform for content and easy access. Moon Knight is only available on Disney+. Stranger Things is a Netflix exclusive. A pirate site could easily host both shows at the same time. Something to learn for the mainstream players? Or will they still keep playing the “exclusive” game?
Mergers between streaming platforms might be a distinct possibility. In early 2022, the major anime streaming platforms Funimation and Crunchyroll announced a merger. One of the main benefits is that subscribers can now access the libraries of both streaming platforms. Though it remains to be seen if mergers can meet the needs of subscribers given the likely increase in subscription fees due to increased library sizes. This brings us back to the oft-cited factor of cost. One of the main things, if not the only one, that matters.
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Author: Blackbox Research Team