How Streaming is Upending the Traditional Movie Experience

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Will streaming see a permanent upending of the traditional movie experience? Do viewers still strongly prefer to stay away from crowded theaters and in the comfort of their own home? Or are people ready to “get back to normal” and rush to their local AMC when the next major studio film hits the box office? 

Data continues to show patterns that put movie theaters at risk, but with viewers now entering the third year of the pandemic, how are we seeing those numbers shift, and what avenues are viewers taking to ensure their ideal movie experience?

To the home viewer, there is not a one-size-fits all solution for delivering content. Streaming falls into one of two big categories: subscription services where users pay a monthly or yearly fee, a pay-per-view model, and free ad-supported TV (FAST). 

There are seismic behavioral shifts occurring in viewers across the nation, and streaming TV platforms will need to further innovate their models in the year ahead to stay on top as we move to embrace an endemic era. This need to innovate comes in the form of content offerings, ad placements, and accessibility to a wider audience from both subscription based services and FAST services. 

Streaming services saw a dramatic increase in business during the early days of the pandemic lockdown, when viewers had no choice but to stay indoors and away from public theaters. Now, as venues continue to open up, people's behaviors are proving slower to catch up. 

Many viewers still strongly prefer the comfort of their own home when indulging in a movie with friends or family. The overall cost of a “movie experience” to the viewer dramatically decreased. And streaming services have since taken advantage, with both subscription-based and ad-supported models racing to add an abundance of new, diversified — and increasingly original — content as viewership behaviors seismically shift, so much so that recent reports have all but signaled that the streaming TV industry is reaching a tipping point

The interesting fact here, though, is that it’s not the streaming TV industry as a whole that’s tipping. It’s subscription-based services. Where we are seeing is a boom in the FAST industry, which allows platforms to provide ad-supported CTV content to their viewers free of charge — and often without even needing a “free membership” or email address. 

In order, consumers prioritize the following factors when choosing a streaming service: price, available content, and original programming. FAST services are like the new digital antenna, except now all you need is an internet connected device to access these apps with entire libraries of content for free. This opens up an opportunity to reach a much larger global audience, while passing along the costs to advertising partners. Entire channels on these platforms are dedicated to movies be it classics, or recently released films fresh out of the theaters, which gives the viewer a wide variety of genres and title options to enjoy. 

So what can viewers expect in the coming year from streaming services, and how will that continue to influence the way we interact with traditional movies?  The future is FAST. 

The best way to break through and keep streaming feeling innovative for viewers is by continuing to grow the FAST market, which favors content diversification and is continuing to expand into new regions and markets to meet the demands of its growing global audience base. In essence, FAST gets to the heart of what the TV entertainment industry is meant to center on: the viewer. 

Navdeep Saini
Co-founder and CEO of DistroScale, parent company of DistroTV

Navdeep Saini is co-founder and CEO of DistroScale, parent company of DistroTV