Just over a decade ago, the bulk of online streaming took place on a small number of free-to-use content platforms like YouTube or MySpace. However, since then streaming has gone on to dominate entire industries, becoming the primary source of revenue, content, and viewers in the film, TV, music, and gaming industries.
Streaming technology, assisted by greatly enhanced internet speeds and bandwidths, has upended business models within the media industries that were once considered to be infallible. Some companies have adapted to the streaming revolution and thrived, while others have stood still and died. Let’s take a closer look at how streaming technologies have completely transformed the world around us.
- Streaming & Film
The most obvious industry that has been strongly affected by streaming is the $136 billion a year global film industry. In just a few short years, streaming platforms have outpaced the big Hollywood studios and distributors, prompting a sea change in how the industry operates. While platforms such as Netflix and Hulu were bit players a few years ago, in 2019 streaming revenue officially surpassed box-office receipts for the first time in history.
One of the main drivers of this development is cost-related; for between $5 and $15 a month, consumers can access thousands of hit films and TV shows from their homes, while the cost of a single movie ticket in America has risen to $12. Couple this with the fact that streaming platforms are now acting as major distributors, encouraging big names to produce exclusive cinematic content for them, and it starts to look unlikely that the conventional film industry will exist in its current form for much longer.
- Streaming & Gaming
The advent of live streaming technology has had a major impact on the video gaming industry, with the roles of gaming consumers and players completely changing. Seven-figure careers and global reputations have been built by gamers who have used streaming platforms like Twitch and YouTube to broadcast themselves playing games to audiences of millions. Some of the most successful game titles in history, such as Fortnite and League of Legends, owe their success almost entirely to the armies of influencers who live stream their gaming sessions.
Streaming has not only changed how we consume video games, but also how games are made. Take the world of online casino gaming, for instance, which now generates tens of billions of dollars in revenue. One of the fastest-growing parts of the industry is so-called live casino gaming, in which players can play via a live stream with a real-life casino dealer. Such trends, which allow people an authentic casino experience without having to leave the house, threaten to completely upend the traditional gambling industry.
- Streaming & Music
The adoption of streaming technology in the music industry is nothing new. Sites such as Napster and SoundCloud have been keeping record labels on their toes for close to 20 years. However, it is only in the past few years that streaming-oriented platforms have won the battle. The artists who produce music are now keenly aware that the number of Spotify streams their latest album receives is a much more reliable indicator of success than the number of album sales they have. The industry acknowledged as much when the RIAA, the body responsible for certifying albums as ‘Gold’ or ‘Platinum’, announced that they would finally be including streaming figures in their calculations.
After years of believing that they could fight off the streaming revolution, the traditional gatekeepers of the industry are finally adapting. Consider how the organizers of Coachella, one of the world’s most prestigious music festivals, live-streamed their 2018 headliner Beyonce’s performance, with 41 million people signing in to watch. Artists who used to jump through hoops to keep their content off of streaming platforms, such as Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, and Coldplay, now offer their content exclusively to those same platforms. There is no part of the global music industry that has been left untouched by the streaming revolution.