2015 was a banner year for streaming TV and movies online. There have never been more streaming services available to match the growing number of people looking for alternative ways to consume their favorite content. The streaming industry is getting more and more complicated, but its best days are clearly ahead. There will be plenty of complications and strange shifts in the coming years, but this is progress for television and film.
Below you’ll find the official Exstreamist predictions for what we believe will happen in 2016 in five sections
Netflix will remain dominant, but Hulu will grow the fastest
Netflix isn’t going away anytime soon. But they have shifted their attention to international expansion, leaving competition in the United States the chance to gain ground in a big way. We’ll hear record breaking subscribership growth for Netflix, likely poised to hit 100 million subscribers well before any other services in the coming years, but we predict Hulu will see the most dominant growth ratio in 2016.
Hulu has recently been dumping tons of money into customer acquisition as well as shifting their product to appease the consumers’ wishes, most recently creating an ad-free option. They have also massively increased their library size, with major acquisitions in both film and television. Hulu has powerful backing from three of the four major broadcast networks, who likely won’t yet see an advantage in breaking free to create their own services and will remain happy in an unholy truce centered on the Hulu platform.
Hulu still hasn’t had it’s ‘House of Cards’ moment with an original yet, but several titles including ’11/22/63′ and ‘The Path’ both seem poised to grab some attention in 2016.
YouTube’s subscription video starts to compete with the other major streaming services
Most of us over 25 probably don’t turn to YouTube for much of our television and movie entertainment needs. Sure, we tune in for the occasional Saturday Night Live clip, cat video or Drake meme in an effort to remain relevant in pop culture. But we don’t explicitly sit down to watch much content longer than a few minutes on Google’s (or is it Alphabet’s) video service.
In contrast though, watch any 13-19 year old person interact with a computer or mobile device and it’s baffling how much time is spent on YouTube watching videos. As this demographic ages, so will the content they continue to digest. Until now this grownup content hasn’t been produced en masse via YouTube.
But 2016 is going to see this change.
YouTube has already, and relatively quietly, been making some moves this direction, with some big hires, ordering YouTube-exclusive content, and building the technology to enable mass distribution of major titles. We fully expect 2016 to be packed full of news of YouTube expanding on this, especially working to keep its homegrown talent producing for their service, instead of letting them leave, signing deals with major media.
Cord cutting as a concept cools a bit but…
Cord cutting as a catch phrase has been a cultural darling for a few years now, but we think it will cool a bit in 2016. The reason for this is likely that 2016 will be increasingly complicated for someone trying to understand just what it is they’re looking to accomplish by getting rid of their cable bill.
The modular nature of current streaming services has a relatively complicated startup cost. In other words, to figure out just what services are needed to replace current, bulky, cable packages for each specific consumer is still awfully muddy; it’s not simply just “sign up for Netflix and call it good” anymore, instead now it’s often a pairing of 2-4 individual services to get 90% of the way to fully replacing cable.
So our prediction here: We will see a massive spike in signups for individual services as more consumers test the waters in 2016. We fully expect the percentage of people signing up for more than one service to shoot up, and with that, a slow resurgence of people canceling their cable subscriptions as these alternative services prove that they can fulfill nearly all entertainment needs.
Cable companies will do some nasty things to make up for lost revenue
With Comcast expanding their data cap policies across the US and other cable companies planning on raising their prices in 2016, we believe that this is just the tip of the iceberg of an industry scrambling as they can certainly see the writing on the wall.
We expect Comcast will likely roll out these data caps to all less-competitive markets where they operate, as well as other cable companies adopting this to make a few bucks. Rate hikes across the board also seem likely, with the opportunity to increase revenue per subscriber each month for little-to-no improvement of service.
The seemingly reasonable data caps set at 300GB will become a common usage number for those without standard cable television subscriptions. As internet speeds get faster, video quality will increase thus requiring more data for transfers. Consumer usage habits will also continue to shift, and more people will be streaming bandwidth-intensive content resulting in this cap being hit more and more often (far above the current 8% affected).
There will be a marketing push of cable’s own slim bundles as well as “streaming only” options that will entice users to remain customers as well at a discount, but these offerings will likely be unable to compete in the long term with more versatile offerings.
Universal Search will remain a myth
Apple TV’s latest rendition sure seemed promising when you could simply say the same of a movie or TV show and Apple would instantly pull up anywhere you could watch the title. But after spending a few weeks with it, it’s obvious that their understanding of universal search just isn’t complete yet. Fire TV and other similar services just don’t quite flex the muscle required to truly offer a way to find out what is streaming where either yet.
And it’s not necessarily the device’s fault, because it’s simply still complicated to find where every movie or TV show is streaming online. Things change rapidly, services don’t play nicely together (Amazon Fire still isn’t on Apple TV, Netflix likely wants you using their search functions, etc) which of course make it difficult.
There’s no doubt that universal search is on its way, but we are betting we won’t see it in 2016, at least nothing beyond the rudimentary versions we are seeing now.
How about you? What are your predictions for 2016? What do you think is next for streaming movies and television online? Let us know in the comments.
And thanks for making 2015 a fun year covering this industry, we truly enjoyed covering the big changes, and are extremely excited to do so in the coming year.