What’s next for video & streaming?

CEOs predict the future: what’s next for video & streaming? 

We would guess that the hours you’ve spent on YouTube or Netflix have multiplied during all the lockdowns and curfews of 2020. The video streaming platforms are doing their best to leverage the momentum and give people the entertainment they crave. But it’s going beyond that – they’re also widening their role as means of connection and space for creators. We’ve collected the predictions, hopes, and dreams of some of the most respected CEOs in the industry to see what they have in store. Hint: linear TV as you know it will be no more, Netflix will grow throughout local markets, and YouTube’s plans may not be what you expect. 

Netflix CEO: We will keep competing through focus

Reed Hastings is not worried about the competition: in fact, he embraces it. He believes Netflix can lead the way as a love brand and sees a vast potential to boost regional content. 

Photo by David Baley on Unsplash

“I would say, there’s a couple of big networks. That’s a healthy situation, right? Because you’ll continue to push each other to innovate and entertain people. It’s only in the old communist states of the 1960s when you’d have a single network. No one wants to create that. 

Amazon, Hulu, Netflix and YouTube all launched in the 2005-2007 period. So those four have been competing for 14 years now. We compete through focus. You can get anything you want at Amazon — they’re trying to be Walmart. We’re a real entertainment brand, much more like HBO. The old fear used to be Amazon buys HBO — because it’s then Amazon-powered but entertainment-focused. But that never happened. We compete with them by doing great content. You know, pleasing people, but really it’s the focus of the brand — that’s what people talk about. 

What’s next is becoming a great Turkish developer of content, becoming a great Egyptian developer of content, and sharing that with the world.”

Reed Hastings, CEO @ Netflix for Variety

WarnerMedia CEO: The industry will recover after Covid, but it will be different

WarnerMedia, a company that has HBO in its portfolio, has been making waves lately. After confusing the viewers with multiple streaming options, the company is now focusing only on HBO and the streaming platform HBO Max. Recently, they made a shocking move – every film on its 2021 slate would premiere both in theaters and on HBO Max, which, of course, could cause enormous damage to theatres. Jason Kilar, who is currently leading the company, clearly has big plans for HBO Max and believes that a bright future is ahead. 

“I do have faith that people will continue to care about sports, that advertisers will want and need to put their messages before audiences at scale. I am also very much a believer that consumer behavior changes in time. We are still in the early innings of customers worldwide starting to watch content on demand. There are 200 million paying customers that pay for video services in a 7-to-8 billion population world. Under the hood from a tech standpoint, it’s very important to get that [tech] right, invest in it. Those are the two very important things. The tech is hard to do but once you get it right, the cost of distribution in a tech environment like digital, is that variable costs are so small it allows you to go global.”

Jason Kilar, CEO @ WarnerMedia, for Deadline

While the company as a whole has suffered due to the pandemic – think closures of the amusement parks or delayed premieres – Disney+ perhaps had the best timing possible. 

“Long term, not to make light of this, what we offer in terms of people’s time is and always will be, and always has been, extremely appreciated and attractive. So I don’t mean to in any way suggest a this-too-shall-pass attitude, because this is obviously the biggest business interruption we’ve faced. But we know when it ends that we will have things for the public to enjoy and to escape to, maybe in ways they will appreciate more than they ever have.

The bottom line is that Disney+ was going to be popular no matter what. In this time, it’s probably far more popular than we ever imagined, in part because it’s a welcome relief and a great alternative in terms of entertainment, for people who don’t have access, given all the restrictions.”

Bob Iger, Executive Chairman @ The Walt Disney Company, for Barrons

YouTube CEO: Empowering creators and brands

Susan Wojcicki has openly shared the vision for YouTube in her blog. The platform will accommodate more creators, including those working on their phones, implementing a convenient shopping experience, and improving their Living Room app.

“More people are creating content on their phones, which is why we’re investing to give creators more video editing tools. We’re now beta testing YouTube Shorts in India and we’re excited to help the next generation of mobile creators tell their stories by lowering the barriers to entry. We’re looking forward to expanding Shorts to more markets this year.

We also know many users and consumers research products on YouTube before they buy. According to a recent Talk Shoppe study, 70 percent of people surveyed say they bought from a brand as a result of seeing it on YouTube. We’re excited to integrate shopping into the YouTube experience. We’re currently testing a new beta program with a group of beauty and electronics creators to help people discover and buy the products they see in videos. We’ll have new features coming out this year. 

We’re also seeing that viewers want to watch their favorite creators and content on the biggest and best screen. In fact, TV was our fastest growing screen in 2020. That’s why we’ve worked to improve the look, feel, and performance of the Living Room app. And we’re making it easier for advertisers to reach more consumers where they are watching. We’ll continue to bring YouTube to more living room devices and make voice navigation even better. There’s a lot more opportunity for us to keep improving the product for creators, advertisers, and users, and you’ll continue to see a healthy investment in this experience.

Susan Wojcicki, CEO @ YouTube, in her blog

Hulu CEO: Only cable networks with a strong brand will survive

According to Randy Freer, we should get used to the idea that linear networks will be no more. 

“In the next decade, it’s not going to be about scheduled [linear] networks, but about cable networks that have been able to build a brand that resonates with consumers. Most of the TV nets that are around today probably won’t exist. We need to figure out different packages. What you’ll see is a transition from what we call ‘live TV’ today.”

Randy Freer, CEO @ Hulu, speaking at the BI Ignition conference

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