Streaming has quickly become the go-to entertainment source, with a myriad of newer subscription services entering the landscape. While options are always a boon to audiences, what remains to be seen is whether the expanding range of content represents a truly diverse array of content and service offerings.
With CTV viewership surging, streaming TV providers have a unique opportunity to pioneer a better entertainment viewing experience for consumers on a global scale.
The operative challenges accompanying that opportunity include questions such as, how should today’s providers look to add meaningful value? How should streaming TV services navigate this new era of entertainment, capture the magic of premium appointment programming and ensure that all content creators — including independent voices — have the chance to tell their stories?
Streaming services are pivoting toward production studios to increase offerings
It’s no secret that the pandemic intensified the CTV market surge. The U.S. free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) market is rising and is set to reach 216 million monthly active users in 2023.
In the last few years, there has also been a significant shift toward featuring original or exclusive programming across streaming services, particularly subscription-based ones. The industry has seen this with big platforms like Hulu buying the rights from a cable network to exclusively feature a new Kardashian reality show soon to premiere on the platform. More recently, Netflix reported its “biggest ever” series launch with Squid Game.
What this boils down to is subscription streaming services are spending big budgets on content and, in effect, are starting to morph into something akin to a modern-day production studio. Take, for instance, Netflix. When the streaming service first started, it featured movies from studio productions plus independent content from partners. Today, Netflix is pursuing more content ownership and production.
This shift is stifling independent content creators.
Independent content creators thrive on social media, but that medium only addresses short-form offerings. There is a white space of potential open for the independents to have their voices heard on the big screen, whether through a channel, a show, a documentary or a movie — and one way to break through to audiences is with FAST.
FAST services are the way to put independent content creators in front of wide audiences
FAST platforms are setting out to provide creators with a deep environment of the kind that subscription-based services can only scratch the surface — truly catering to a diverse and globally-minded audience by showcasing exclusive or premium content that caters to viewers’ unique interests.
Partnering with a FAST platform is a low financial lift for independent content creators who are generally looking to break ground and likely don’t have the support or budget behind them to pursue a production with a subscription-based service. They can help get independents in front of audiences with little to no associated upfront costs.
There is inherent value in committing to the elevation of independent voices. Independent content creators bring with them loyal and engaged followers. Those followers will convert to dedicated viewers and, in time, open up additional revenue opportunities for the streaming TV platforms they watch.
No one can be entirely sure what the future will be. While film festivals used to be a hub for viewers searching for indie offerings, those are slowly being phased out as the industry moves toward a more virtual approach to entertainment.
As new streaming services continue to pop onto the scene — some solely dedicated to growing independent content viewership — existing paid and FAST services can seize the moment to feature those voices. Now is the time for independent voices to shine, and streaming providers would be wise to capitalize on this opportunity. Independent creators deserve to share their stories and help people connect with the content distributed across platforms. And the way to do that is with FAST.
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