September 24, 2020

Streaming services are about to change … again

The streaming service game is about to change, for better or worse. As we head into this spring and beyond, there will be more and more options to stream from and an unending wave of new original content making its way onto streaming service platforms. There will also be new technologies that impact streaming, such as 5G and the emerging presence of video games as a streaming service.

Unfortunately, this all means that you probably won’t be able to go to one streaming service to satisfy all of your needs, and you will probably end up paying more in the long run. I wanted to break down all of this exciting news and determine what it means for the average consumer.

Streaming Service by Channel

Streaming may become almost like surfing channels in the near future. Image:

Streaming services started as a convenient and attractive alternative to watching cable TV. An evolution of the renting media model, streaming services allowed consumers to skip the long commercial breaks and waiting a week for the next episode of their favorite show, as they could find it all on one groundbreaking service.

If you think about it, what Netflix has done is revolutionary and it’s almost hard to believe they got away with it. The service literally moved an entire generation (the “Netflix and chill” generation?) away from the clutches of cable providers and served said generation unlimited programming through the internet; our second home anyway.

Unfortunately for us, that channel model couldn’t be kept away for long, and I think the days of paying $10 for unlimited everything are going to be a thing of the past. More and more, providers of shows are starting to pull their programs from Netflix and Hulu and are putting them up on their own services. The most glaring example is Disney, a company that has canceled a handful of fan-favorite Marvel TV shows within the past year. Fans are not happy, but Disney needed to do this as these shows were joint ventures with Netflix, and Disney is trying to sever all ties with the competing streaming service.

Disney is not the only company launching a streaming service, though. Below is a list of some streaming services that are either hitting the market soon or are already up and running:

  • Apple
  • CBS All Access
  • Disney+
  • ESPN +
  • Netflix
  • Hulu
  • NBC Universal
  • Viacom

Video Games Streaming

Playing video games in the future may not require an expensive video game console or PC, but rather just a reliable internet connection.

Streaming has taken over the way we consume media over the past ten years. Starting with Netflix for movies/TV and continuing with Spotify and Apple Music for music, streaming has become the go-to way for almost all types of popular media. The last major form of popular media to adopt streaming as a distribution model would be video games.

The industry has tried, sure, but nothing seems to be catching on. A startup called OnLive was the first to try, but it failed and was absorbed by Sony/PlayStation in 2015. PlayStation then tried building on top of some of what OnLive had established with the Launch of PlayStation Now, but it has admittedly not had the same impact on games that Netflix had on movies/TV.

The common problem with the early iterations of games streaming is that there is an extra layer of latency put on top of the media. This doesn’t matter in a passive experience such as watching a movie or jamming out to music, but in games it makes a huge difference as games are an active experience. If you are constantly two seconds behind, gaming becomes less fun and more frustrating rather quickly, especially if you are playing a multiplayer game.

Lately, there have been more and more attempts to crack the game-streaming formula. The latest attempts come from the likes of Google and Microsoft. Starting with Google, the company launched a test of what it is calling Project Stream last year, allowing users to play Assassin’s Creed Odyssey through Google Chrome. Users didn’t need a fancy gaming rig to play, but rather a speedy and reliable internet connection. Reviewers were impressed by the project, and now the public is just waiting for Google to formally announce the service, with rumors saying that it will come during this year’s Games Developer’s Conference. As far as Microsoft’s game streaming service goes, it is currently named “Project XCloud”, and is yet to be formally unveiled. Regardless, expect games to be streamed more and more as we head into 2020 and beyond.

5G: Stream on the Go

5G connectivity may allow us to stream high-quality content anywhere and at any time right in the palm of our hands.

Right now, you can technically stream your favorite movies and TV shows and music with not much of an issue. 5G will take this to the next level, though. With this next generation of cell phone service technology comes increased bandwidth and speeds, which generally means more high-quality content to go around. I’m talking 4K movies on the go, higher quality music streaming, even live streaming video from your phone with performance greater than even your home internet in some cases. There may even be use applications where you can stream the latest console-quality games to your phone wherever you are thanks to a 5G connection. The use cases are seemingly endless, and the possibilities varied.

Change is Coming

If you take anything from this post, it’s that change is coming. For the better? I can’t say for sure. A lot of people don’t like change, but with technology, constant change is just a part of the game. I am excited to see where things go, but unfortunately, I think it will mean that us consumers will have to pay more to access the content that we enjoy.

Sources/Extra Reading:

  • Zach Ferenchak is a current Senior studying Emerging Media with an emphasis in PR. Along with serving as managing editor for The Chimes, Zach is heavily involved with the Public Relations Student Society of America, where he serves as the organization's incoming National Vice President of Brand Engagement. He is an avid communicator who hopes to one day elevate brands and causes through effective storytelling.

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