As the strikes kick off, putting most of the film and television world on ice, the nature and business of streaming is under a microscope. Streaming has yet to come into its hay day.
We enthusiastically embrace streaming in the United States, however, much of the non-English speaking world has yet to. In some countries streaming is in its infancy due to lack of internet infrastructure, or because culturally it simply has not caught on yet.
Streaming is Spreading Worldwide
The future seems bright in that streaming is slowly spreading worldwide and over time it will become the dominant way to consume content globally. But for now, streaming simply is not anywhere near as lucrative as the days of physical distribution (DVDs and Pay Cable).
As streaming evolves, most insiders and industry professionals agree that ad-based streaming (AVOD), will likely win out long-term as the most lucrative over subscription-based models (SVOD) like Netflix or Disney+.
The irony of AVOD is that it is very similar to how we watched movies on television growing up, unless you were fortunate enough to be an HBO or Showtime subscriber.
AVOD vs SVOD
AVOD generates revenue for a film through ad sales, so the more people who watch a film, the more revenue that’s generated. The sky is the limit. In that model there is a simple and straight-forward methodology to track how much each individual movie generates.
With subscription-based streaming, however, it’s not so black and white. It’s less driven by volume and more akin to the way the premium pay cable stations used to acquire content.
SVOD platforms have a challenging future in that competition is stiff with virtually every studio launching their own proprietary platform, and most consumers do not want to pay for numerous subscriptions.
Back in the day you only needed one subscription to access every film – the little blue and yellow Blockbuster card! Now it’s virtually impossible to gain access to that Blockbuster variety without subscribing to at least half a dozen platforms simultaneously. It’s unsustainable for most consumers.
Why AVOD Stands Out
AVOD, on the other hand, is last in line to stream most new content, but it’s not limited in its acquisition power or ability to generate revenue. Plus, it caters to the majority of the population who may not have the financial means to subscribe to multiple platforms.
It also eliminates a lot of the volatility felt by the talent that’s led to the current strike because revenues can be transparently tracked and residuals are paid based on the gross.
As AVOD platforms like Tubi spread across the globe, it will also open up foreign market to independent films that were otherwise previously untapped.
Big territories in Europe such as France, Spain and Italy acquire so few small independent films from outside the EU, but AVOD solutions will counter that because AVOD streamers very aggressively expand their libraries in order to attract new viewers.
AVOD Is Reviving Revenue For Older Titles
AVOD has breathed new life into old films and provided outlets for otherwise unexploited indie films. There are also opportunities with AVOD to double up revenue streams for individual titles.
One thing we have seen in recent years with the rise in prominence of Tubi is movies dubbed in Spanish garnering a whole new audience, and concurrently, creating a second very lucrative revenue stream.
As a result of this phenomenon, we will likely witness a rise in demand from distributors for filmmakers to deliver their films with foreign dubs or subtitles, allowing for much wider releases.
Despite the added workload and expense, however, it may also allow for domestic distributors to begin acquiring for much more of the world than just their own territory, since most streaming platforms are global.
Currently we are in a great moment in time to take advantage of the rapidly-growing AVOD market. AVOD platforms cannot get their hands on titles fast enough, since having new additions to their platforms retains viewers and grows their viewership.
Streaming Is Constantly Evolving
Streaming is evolving faster than the union contracts can keep up with, unfortunately. But the distribution opportunities provided to content creators has never been so robust.
My prediction is that most SVOD platforms will eventually be forced to create an AVOD solution, and most AVOD platforms provide a premium option for consumers to pay in order to eliminate ads.
Streaming is here to stay and the models will continue to be refined. It’s forcing filmmakers to consider different things – like how to make a title stand out, rather than just getting the title in.
As both the studios/streamers and the unions make their compromises and reach a middle ground, filmmakers should be taking note of what’s in store for the future of streaming and ultimately the way we monetize our movies.