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The Need for Speed: SVOD Services Meet Demand to Stay Competitive

by: Lorie Raileanu | May 11, 2021

When the world took a hard stop last year there were more questions than answers about how we would collectively respond to the pandemic. Our lives shifted dramatically in ways that will likely have effects long after we’ve been vaccinated and are walking around unmasked. Sequestered in our homes, we learned how to leverage technology to keep working, attending school, shopping for necessities, socializing with friends and relatives, and indulging in entertainment. The digital economy has kept some of us employed, informed, and most of us happily entertained with content, available across personal devices in our homes.

The good news is that there were libraries of content in the can ready to feed to people hungry for a distraction from the constant flow of tragic information being broadcast and emphatically shared through social media. We are now the definition of a captive audience, thirsty for the next release on our preferred platforms. But when production halted due to COVID restrictions and we all finished watching and re-watching our favorite movies and series again, we were anxious for something new.

Netflix has kept turning out new content and remains the #1 SVOD service worldwide, followed closely by Amazon Prime and Disney+ (who have given Netflix a good fight, exceeding all analyst expectations). Others like Warner Media’s HBO Max and NBCU’s Peacock launched their own flavor of streaming options and are gaining momentum among die-hard fans of their content. And, of course, Apple, Hulu, Roku, and many others are also nipping at their heels.

What’s been equally exciting to watch is the rise of independently produced content that has been fast-forwarded into our homes and much of it long before the stay-at-home mandates of 2020/21. Music, podcasts, and games have also experienced tremendous gains as folks like us searched for new at-home entertainment.

Are Producers Maximizing Content Revenue?

The big question is whether anyone is getting paid for all this content. Are actors and producers of independent content being paid the same as box office stars of yesteryear–or 2019? How is it being divvied up–by stream or channel platform? With so much being watched, is there a way to truly capture and calculate what is rightfully owed?

The race is certainly on to get content out to the masses and, with or without COVID, there is a new expectation for good content–and a lot of it. Each of us has become a critic in our own right, exchanging reviews with friends and colleagues through Zoom as we once did around the water cooler. I wonder how that will change the way content is procured over time? What about all the underlying rights? If a show wants to use a specific piece of music, how do they know if they have the rights to use that piece?

There is no doubt that streaming media has become a big part of our lives and is here to stay. Leading SVOD services will have to make sure they can keep the steady flow of content coming to stay competitive and profitable despite tremendous behind the scenes work that must be done to support the enterprise as well as ensure they pay all of the contributors along the way. The need for speed is real. There’s no time for error or hiccups in the digital supply chain.