Over the past few months I’ve been learning more about streaming, trying to understand beter how it works and who operates in this market (think Spotify, Rdio and LoveFilm). A logical next step was trying to get a better grasp on the business side of things; what makes streaming so interesting from a business revenue point of view?
- Increase in number of streaming subscribers – In a recent webcast with TechCrunch Netflix’ CEO Reed Hastings made it clear where he sees the future of his business by stating that “We expect DVD Subscribers to decline every quarter … forever.” He illustrated this by stating that Netflix had lost 2.76m DVD rental subscribers in Q4 of 2011 whilst its streaming service gained 220k users.
- Low cost model – In the same webcast, Hastings explained that even though the margins on DVD rental are much higher compared to streaming (since prices of DVD rental are higher), the variable cost attributed to streaming are much lower.
This made me think about the following:
- Will streaming cost really be that low? – I can understand that the variable cost involved in streaming are likely to be significantly lower than DVD rental. The fixed cost of streaming are, however, much higher compared to other (subscription) models. I’m thinking of the fixed costs to set up a streaming infrastructure (e.g. enabling users to stream both in an online and offline mode) but particularly the cost of securing streaming content. With Netflix and LoveFilm battling it out to bolster their catalogues of streaming content in the UK I can imagine the big film studios and TV production companies rubbing their hands with glee and driving up the price of their content.
- Will streaming really take off? I guess this will very much depend on factors such as cost, consumers choosing between downloading and streaming (between access and ownership) etc. Streaming is a relatively new model, so it will be interesting to see what its consumer adoption will be like.
Related links for further learning: