We are unquestionably in the midst of the digital age where people crave the most user-friendly experience with their technology. The ability to socialize with friends, stream media and surf the web all from the comfort of your mobile device is vital these days.
Overall TV viewership is falling, down amongst the 18-to-49 age group according to The New York Times. Pundits can’t find one clear reason to attribute this fact except for the varying ways viewers access their entertainment programming is one factor at play. Where once most homes had two or more TV sets, today’s home may just not have any.
Many viewers at the lower end of the 18-to-49 group are increasingly using their mobile devices to watch TV shows and movies. The three giants that provide contact are Netflix, Hulu and Amazon.
Hulu recently announced their subscription base pierced the 4 million-viewer goal. In addition to offering myriad of television shows, including original series available only on its service, Hulu offers streaming movies. Many titles are current, and Hulu has a vast library of classic movies along with B movies from every decade since the movie industry’s inception.
Hulu comes in two levels: a free service that has a vastly curtailed choice of things to watch across all media, and a premium service dubbed Hulu Plus, which is $7.99 per month. While their website promotes a one-week free trial, businessinsider.com revealed that users who don’t indicate they want to purchase the service are usually then offered a full month of free service.
Hulu operates as a giant on-demand library that allows subscribers to select television shows and movies can be watched instantly or placed in the user’s queue. When using the queue, users have to watch for an expiration time, which is the time that the particular item in your queue will no longer be available. This lack of availability not only applies to the viewer’s queue but to the entire website.
Netflix’s original business model enabled subscribers to receive DVD movies through the mail. When the family was done with a DVD, they would simply mail it back to the company. Netflix charged about $8 for the service, until it added streaming to its library—then they announced a price increase, promptly lost its market share and saw stock plunge.
The company restructured its price options and now offers three plans. Plan 1 is streaming-only with access to the entire library of Netflix. This plan costs $7.99 a month. Plan 2 is also $7.99 a month, and it provides subscribers DVD or Blu-ray offerings that are exchanged via regular mail. Plan 3 allows subscribers full access to Netflix’s streaming library as well as DVDs through the mail. The cost ranges $4.99 to $19.49 a month, with the variable price depending on the number of discs a subscriber wants to access each month.
Amazon also offers a streaming TV and movie service. It has not been as well-publicized as Hulu and Netflix, but it does provide a great deal of television shows and movies for viewers. Some shows are available the day after they have debuted. People who pay $79 annual membership for Amazon Prime get unlimited streaming TV and movies. For others, Amazon Instant Video is much like going to a video store; you pay per rental.
What’s It All Mean?
It may no longer be possible to accurately measure viewership of TV shows. Television shows that are later streamed from Netflix, Hulu and Amazon are not counted by rating services.
The major cable companies have had on-demand viewing for a long time now, and to remain competitive many of them now let subscribers view content on their mobile devices. DirecTV lets subscribers view some shows as they are broadcast on their computers, smartphones and laptops. It seems as though cable providers are stepping up to keep up with their customers, some providing a free mobile app to stream content to connected devices with sign-up. Users can also use it to control their DVR with their mobile device.
In regards to our socialization, how will these companies utilize networks to ensure relevancy?