Video streaming applications have become permanent fixtures in a rapidly growing number of devices across the world. What started off as an add-on service to DVD and digital download packages has now flourished into a multimillion dollar industry and a favourite pastime amongst millennials, courtesy lightning-fast internet connections and a burgeoning number of mobile devices world over.
The success of video streaming services all boils down to differentiation and first-mover advantage. Presenting to you, the top video streaming sites of 2017.
You’re probably no stranger to Netflix. Netflix is one of the best video streaming sites, emblazoned on the face of the video streaming industry. With a generously stocked library that is continually pumped with new content, its offerings are novel. Plus, Netflix has always stayed ahead of the game by introducing original programmes such as House of Cards and Luke Cage.
So, what is the hype around Netflix?
Well, other than the massive selection of titles that it features, Netflix allows varying degrees of concurrent streaming through differentiated packages. Its $7.99/month plan, for instance covers one Standard-Definition (SD) stream. Move to High-Definition (HD), and the pricing changes. For simultaneous usage on two different devices on the same account, Netflix offers a package of $9.99 for new members. Talk about 4 concurrent streams from the same account, and the price moves up a notch to $11.99. Whichever way you look at it, Netflix offers value for money! Netflix now also allows offline viewing, and offers more fluidity across devices than any other service provider in the market. So, if you have a flight to catch, or a car journey with sketchy signal, download content beforehand and enjoy it on the go!
Through Netflix’s localised content strategy, it has also clinched partnerships in new world markets to deliver regional content. In India, for example, it has inked deals with telecom operators such as Airtel, Vodafone and Videocon to deliver content Over the Top (OTT).
Of course, as newer technologies take root across the world, video streaming is becoming more fluid than ever before. Streamhash, a turnkey technology that underpins many successful video streaming startups today, provides a seamless device-agnostic user experience that can be customised to embrace a suite of devices.
Netflix has pioneered a revenue model that has inspired many businesses to follow suit. Here are some reasons it stands out:
- Subscription Fee: Netflix’s move to bring in a subscription fee was considered risky, because it had never been attempted before. Yet, the standard price offering clicked, and many Video on Demand (VOD) services have adopted the same model.
- DVD Rentals: Surprised? Don’t be. Few people even know that Netflix offers DVD rentals as a service. Most of us associate Netflix with pure video streaming. DVD rentals contribute a measly percentage to the overall Netflix revenue, though the service was popular when it was launched. However, with technology evolution and internet ubiquity, Netflix’s video streaming service has become a massive engine of growth.
Netflix’s approach to marketing has been heavily focused on consumer insights:
- Personalised Dashboard: What you see on your Netflix home screen is probably very different from what your neighbour sees. Netflix’s brilliant algorithms customise recommendations by curating movies and shows that you’re likely to enjoy based on your past preferences. It is an excellent way to micro-target customers and build user engagement.
- Brand Identity: Netflix has spread like wildfire thanks to social media. Its digital presence and subtle campaigns have worked magic for the brand, especially its youthful tagline, #NetflixAndChill. It hasn’t spent much on Above the Line media, like traditional advertising.
- Listen to Users: We already know about Netflix’s sophisticated data mining approach. But the company uses data trends to assess user behaviour and tweak its offerings. A market insight uncovered by Netflix revealed that users enjoyed binge-watching shows at one go, and that the experience proved more enjoyable this way. Thus, Netflix started releasing all the episodes of a given season at once, to boost user contentment.
Amazon Video is always attempting to one-up Netflix through pricing or promotion. On the pricing front, its $10.99/month includes a suite of benefits, like Prime’s free shipping, Amazon Photos and the Kindle Lending Library.
Amazon Video offers an annual package at $99. Its streaming service contains about 40,000 titles, but very few of those qualify for Prime Streaming. The ones that don’t, need to be bought, regardless of Prime membership. Like Netflix, Amazon Video also offers provides offline downloads. The only real challenge with the service is that it isn’t as device-agnostic as Netflix, and doesn’t work on Google’s Chromecast. The service also offers concurrent viewing from two streams.
- Annual Subscription Fee: Ditto, Netflix. This plan offers users the option to pay upfront for a full year, with a built-in pricing benefit.
- Standalone Monthly Subscription: Here, a user may can subscribe to Prime whenever, wherever. There’s no long-term obligation.
- Streaming Partner Program: Where Amazon Video really stands apart, is with its Streaming Partners Program. With this OTT streaming subscription programme, Amazon has collaborated with twenty broadcast companies, such as Showtime, Starz and CBS. The service allows you to add specific networks to your account at a discounted price.
- Bundling: Amazon’s competencies are diverse, and the company has leveraged its array of skill sets in its promotional bundles. By packaging its Kindle line, streaming and express shipping service together, it has created a value proposition that no other pure VOD player can match!
Hulu is still coming into its own. What used to be a free, ad-speckled viewing experience has taken on a Netflix-like twist. And it all lies in its monetisation plan.
Unlike its more popular counterparts, Hulu manages to procure content aired on television within days of it being televised. Netflix and Amazon, on the other hand, take months to broadcast the same content. Its partnership with big studios is its ticket to quick content.
- Monthly Subscription Fee: Hulu is priced at $7.99/month. Interestingly, Hulu is ahead of Netflix and Amazon in procuring television content.
- Advertising Spots: Hulu still takes on advertisers, despite its monthly fee model. This means that viewers still see ads. The company also offers a $11.99 variant, that comes with an ad-free experience.
- Advertising Spots: Hulu is one of the only VOD players to continue with advertising spots in a world where netizens tend to skip advertisements. Still, Hulu is looking to capitalise on these spots to draw advertisers and enhance the ad viewing experience of users.
- Original Content: Netflix and Amazon have already cornered this opportunity, and now it’s Hulu’s turn. By introducing superior content onto its platform, it will create a differentiator for itself.
HBO is the first media company to branch out onto the internet. Although it started its online expedition with HBO Go, the media house found that it didn’t work as well, because users needed a pay TV login to access it.
As the name suggests, HBO Now streams content owned by HBO. There aren’t any stream limitations so multiple streams can be opened on devices with the same username.
HBO Now sells for $14.99/month. Because HBO owns the content, shows and movies debut online within minutes of being broadcasted on television. HBO Now can be accessed from any device, through Amazon, Google Play and the App Store.
- Well-Timed Programming: HBO’s launches have been well thought-out. For instance, it timed its tremendously popular show, Game of Thrones, with the launch of HBO Now.
- Tailored Content: There isn’t a significant difference in cost between HBO as a cable addition and HBO Now. However, by offering customers a unique, made-to-order viewing experience, HBO is combining its traditional and online properties to envelope a customer in the brand’s prowess.
CBS All Access
Meet another television entrant on the online bandwagon!
Like HBO, CBS has also developed an exclusive digital platform. And while you may find it odd that a platform could possibly broadcast shows from a single channel, CBS has cracked the code. By offering its stellar line up of shows the day after their telecast, CBS has viewers tuned in to stay up to date with missed shows and new content.
It isn’t difficult to start an online streaming platform anymore. Many media companies purchase ready technologies like Streamhash to complement their traditional offerings. And with the plethora of handy customisation options and fantastic features that such technologies provide, you save a whole lot of time and money.
- Monthly Subscription Fee: CBS All Access is available for $5.99/month.
- Advertising Spots: CBS follows a differential advertising approach. It broadcasts ads for primetime, day-time and late night content, but television classics are run uninterrupted.
- Television Advertising: CBS’s first phase of marketing involved advertising on its own television network, followed by spots on select outside networks. Thoughts like Watch live. Watch later and Binge away were pushed to consumers.
- Digital Advertising: After traditional media, CBS resorted to a focused advertising approach through digital devices. The advertising featured specific shows or behaviours that would appeal to customers.
- Influencer Approach: CBS launched an influencer-based approach, aimed at generating referrals through fan websites and word of mouth. It also hinted at rewarding these fans with a referral bonus or a free trial of All-Access.
The top 5 video streaming sites in the world are ideal models to follow on your own entrepreneurial path. Curate content for a unique geography as an acid test, and then expand your platform to cover more content. Take a leaf out of each of these company’s marketing books to forge your own journey!