Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Streaming Wars

Consumers have been able to enjoy a number of "marketing wars" over the years with the hopeful outcome that the consumer ends up enjoying a better value for products and services offered.  Yet in most cases, the battle is never about price but about other competitive differences.  We've enjoyed Coke vs Pepsi, Hertz vs Avis, HBO vs Showtime, and today in the streaming marketplace, Netflix vs Amazon.  Sure there are other competitors in each of these battles; still, the main warfare is between the number one and number two brand.

For Amazon and Netflix, much learning comes from the content battles before it, most notably in the cable universe.  While breadth of content is an important piece of the puzzle, the need for original content matters just as much.  So, the fight is on with these two heavyweights, as well as the other competitors in the content space to become the outright streaming leader.  Netflix has been pushing ahead with original series like House of Cards and exclusive new content from Arrested Development.  And Amazon has partnered with CBS "for a unique distribution deal for a 13-episode TV series “Under the Dome” based on a popular 2009 Stephen King novel of the same name."  Yes, this series will first air on the broadcast network this summer and "will be freely available for online streaming for three days afterwards on the network’s website,"  But then it will move to Amazon. 

Consumers, for the most part, have a short attention span.  Once consumed, they will be looking for more content to satisfy their appetite.  And it is this desire that will make competition in the streaming world a feeding frenzy.  Good for Amazon and Netflix, but also good news for the other streaming competitors, Hulu, Redbox, and Blockbuster to name a few.  And what of Apple?  For those that want to own the content, Amazon provides a service that Netflix doesn't.  And it is in the download space that Apple competes head on.  Should Apple decide to enter the rental market, either through acquisition or growth, then these streaming wars will no doubt take another interesting turn. 

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