‘You can skip this intro’. Sound familiar? Well, please don’t this time. You’ll likely miss something important.
If you’ve been watching certain stream-able content platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc. you’ll recognise it as a commonplace option.
The odds are that over the Christmas period someone in your household was idly complaining about having to sit through adverts whilst watching broadcast television, maybe that person was you. Having the choice to skip the ‘slow’ segments of your chosen viewing can seem like a privilege at first but when does it become less of a treat and more of an expectation?
This feeds into general discussions as to the evolution of viewing habits; from traditional linear programming to a certain demographic who consume all of their broadcasting via on demand.
It’s true that broadcasting can be soured by the impatience prompted through streaming but it can also bring about a sense of nostalgia that streaming cannot currently elicit.
Broadcasting can also create a more universal viewing experience. If people watch something live, when a show is premiering, you can be sure that someone else is out there watching it too at the exact same time. Maybe it will be discussed in the news the next day, or the paper, or maybe it’s trending on social media as you watch. It’s likely going to be the subject of discussion throughout the following week.
It can’t be said that streaming services don’t see the value in advertising. There have been murmurs that Netflix itself might delve into the world of advertising . Netflix employs tests each year to see what will and won’t work for their brand and, in 2018, they experimented with recommending other shows of theirs between shows, much to their members’ dismay. The fallout was both strong and immediate.
Of course Netflix has 130 million customers and, therefore, isn’t struggling for revenue. Due to the strict ‘no advertising’ expectation being given off from their users, it’s not something they could ever branch into without garnering major backlash. Creating somewhat of a ‘rock and a hard place’ situation.
If nothing else, Netflix has capitalised on this with comments on social media.
As Netflix is delivering something others are not, despite them losing out on money from advertising, it can give them a user-friendly edge.
However, an example of a previously uninterrupted service that has now enabled advertising is YouTube. In January 2009 , YouTube began advertising before videos, gaining two billion views on their advertisements each day from October of that year. YouTube does offer an alternative to sitting through these ads, removing them for the rate of £11.99 per month through the use of YouTube Premium (formerly YouTube Red).
Though this service includes ad-free viewing, a Spotify-like service and more, it is said that it’s not rivalling Netflix just yet. This could be due to the fact that users aren’t willing to pay for something that was given out for free previously. This would likely be the case if Netflix were to adopt a similar approach. Perhaps Netflix may use YouTube as a case study in which to plan their own move to include advertising? Analysing the possible pitfalls and financial shortfalls prior to any launch.
The truth of the matter is that whereas broadcasting will continue to use advertising both in live viewing and VOD, major streaming services don’t have this option, having limited flexibility. The potential is there to adapt when streaming services may have already stagnated.
For broadcasting, although it is rooted in history, that doesn’t mean that it is old news.