The video streaming industry continues growing at a rapid pace as more and more cord-cutters move away from traditional media, increasing the total number of plays and playtime year over year. But the online video ecosystem is also constantly changing, opening exciting new opportunities with each new development. Changes in technology, ways of living, and a global pandemic have made streaming platforms a central piece of our entertainment lives. Now, new technologies and industry priorities are ushering in a whole new wave of innovation.
Looking at the year ahead, we can expect artificial intelligence (AI), personalization, and new data analytics capabilities to drive profound changes. These new tools will help video businesses fine-tune their services and content offerings but, above all, they will help elevate the viewing and in-app experiences of consumers worldwide.
Harnessing the Power of AI for Intuitive Data Analysis
Working with data is increasingly becoming the norm in the online video industry, bridging the gap with industries such as e-commerce, where data utilization has long been an integral part of business culture and practices. However, the integration of data into daily operations involves considerable challenges. As the streaming industry becomes more data-centric, the volume and variety of available data points increase substantially, making it more complex to interpret and utilize the data effectively and in real time. Enter artificial intelligence.
AI helps decode intricate patterns and facilitates the making of fact-based decisions. As the industry advances in its adoption of AI, new AI-powered analytic tools will enable streaming providers and their teams to extract actionable insights more quickly and easily—even through simple, natural-language interactions.
Deep insights into service quality, user behavior, and content preferences will be accessible to both data and business experts. There will be no need for complex analyses or an in-depth understanding of data analytics. A simple click or a text query to a chatbot will provide decision-makers with the information they need to run a successful video business.
Analytics: a 360-Degree Endeavor
Data analytics will not only become more intuitive, but it will also need to evolve into a more holistic endeavor to become a true driver of success.
Streaming services need to understand their users’ content preferences and viewing patterns, as well as the best way to present and market content to them. They need to identify opportunities for improvement across the entire customer life cycle—from activation to retention—designing user journeys that prevent churn, increase viewer engagement, and promote business growth.
Amid fierce competition between services, streaming platforms will need to take an even more comprehensive approach to analytics in the year ahead. Holistic analytics tools will help them better comprehend their audience and customize their digital video products accordingly to increase user satisfaction and retention.
Quality Over Quantity: a New Balance in Content Production
This focus on user satisfaction and retention will resonate throughout the entire business structure of video companies, shifting the objective toward sustainable growth.
Despite last year's Hollywood strikes and the resulting disruptions in content production, the largest players in the streaming space remained relatively unaffected. In fact, some reported record earnings. If we put aside the fact that the most prominent platforms have a global network for content production that can circumvent strikes, it becomes clear that these platforms are not solely reliant on a constant stream of new content to maintain user engagement.
This realization, coupled with the shift away from a shareholder-growth-centric era in streaming, signals a renewed emphasis on economic sustainability over mere expansive growth. Major content producers are now seeking a balance between quantity and quality. After a period marked by an excess of new releases, there is a growing inclination toward fewer but more refined productions, aiming to foster deeper relationships with audiences. Companies will be more likely to prioritize long-term audience retention instead of pursuing rapid expansion, promoting a strategic pivot within the industry.
Personalization: the Secret to Driving User Engagement
And what better way to drive user engagement than by providing a personalized experience.
The integration of AI with extensive data analytics is paving the way for hyper-personalized user experiences. Content recommendations have evolved from generic lists or segmentation by user groups to finely tuned selections based on a user's viewing history, behavioral trends, and their interactions with the platform. In the coming year, further advancements in AI and predictive analytics will empower streaming platforms to offer content options and tailored navigation experiences that reflect individual viewers' preferences.
We are entering an era where a user can log into their “channel,” which has been meticulously curated by AI algorithms with content and a UI that aligns with their unique tastes. This degree of personalization is set to enhance user satisfaction, significantly improve viewer retention, and has the potential to redefine the way we consume digital content.
Language Barriers: a Thing of the Past
The potential of AI in the video streaming industry extends beyond personalization and data analytics; it is poised to play a crucial role in transcending language barriers in video content.
AI's capability to rapidly comprehend and process multiple languages and dialects is enabling streaming platforms to provide real-time captioning and dubbing, significantly enhancing global accessibility. Viewers around the world can now effortlessly enjoy content in their preferred language, free from delay or inconsistency. Tasks that previously required considerable time and human effort to translate and dub are now achieved nearly instantaneously with the aid of AI.
This situation is mutually beneficial: it opens up new content to diverse audiences and untapped markets, broadening and enriching viewers' content choices while promising substantial user growth for streaming services.
Live Sports Streaming Continues to Grow, Powered by Multi-CDN
In 2023, the popularity of live sports on streaming platforms saw significant growth, a trend expected to continue gaining momentum this year. Viewers are increasingly shifting away from traditional cable and broadcast services, attracted by the convenience, flexibility, and cost benefits that streaming platforms offer.
This shift in viewership highlights the critical role of multi-CDN strategies and switching technologies. These innovative content delivery approaches enable streaming services to dynamically select the best-performing content delivery network (CDN) in their portfolio. In live sports, where any delay can significantly affect the viewer experience, a multi-CDN strategy is essential to reduce latency.
Moreover, the industry is witnessing a resurgence in the use of peer-to-peer capabilities. This technology is instrumental in efficiently managing content delivery during high-demand periods, such as major sporting events, ensuring a seamless and uninterrupted streaming experience for viewers, even during peak traffic.
The Year Ahead
As we settle into 2024, the video streaming industry appears to be on a path of rapid yet steady evolution, increasingly focusing on unlocking the power of data to customize user experiences and improve the quality of both content and service. The integration of AI and enhanced data analytics will provide online video platforms with the speed and the tools needed to deliver more of what individual users want to see, and less of what they don’t.
Further developments in AI technologies will also make content more accessible across different languages and regions, removing previous barriers to entry almost instantaneously. Technological improvements in content delivery, particularly for live sports streaming, will be crucial for meeting the demands of a global audience and ensuring a smooth streaming experience, even when servers are overcrowded.
The coming year for video streaming seems set to be one of fine-tuning, where a combination of relatively small enhancements will make streaming services more responsive to what viewers really want, resulting in increased business growth and, especially, a more enjoyable and accessible experience for all.