Sleep is my greatest enemy.” Those five words, tweeted from the Netflix U.S. account in April, summed up the whole of
the streaming video media and entertainment world
in 2017. Viewers had more fantastic content to watch,
more platforms to watch it on, and more devices to
watch it with than ever before. If the rise of streaming video has shown anything, it’s that all viewers
want is everything they can get. Now they can get
it, and they’re watching more video than ever. But
something had to give, and that something was sleep.
Viewers are chronically under-rested and red-eyed,
but they’re all caught up on Game of Thrones.
Having already spread throughout the world, Netflix didn’t command headlines like it had in previous
years. CEO Reed Hastings and his crew have created the first global network and continue to churn out
streaming hit after hit (Stranger Things season 2 and
Marvel’s The Defenders, among many others, kept subscribers entertained last year), and so Alexander wept,
for there were no more worlds to conquer.
Instead, the battle last year was between online and
pay TV, where quarterly markers showed cable and
satellite’s audiences slowly eroding. Headlines went
to new skinny bundle offerings, which provided a less
expensive, more versatile, and more limited alternative. DIRECTV NOW, fresh off its November 2016
launch, got off to a rocky start with customers reporting massive buffering and delay issues in January.
You Tube TV spread to new markets in the last half of
the year, choosing to adopt a slower market-by-mar-ket rollout. Cloud DVRs became a must-have for skinny bundles in 2017, although different platforms had
different limitations. Sling TV, for example, offers 50
hours of cloud DVR storage for $5 extra per month,
where saved recordings never expire. You Tube TV
offers an unlimited cloud DVR, but recordings expire
after 9 months. Subscribers are still deciding what
channels and amenities are essential, so there’s plenty of room for new players and feature sets.
TV Everywhere (TVE) seemed like such a nonstarter
for so many years, it was surprising to see it roar to
The State of
Viewers opened their wallets
to skinny bundles and SVOD
services last year, and
there’s more where
that came from.
By Troy Dreier