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Live Streaming Trends in 2021: What To Keep in Mind

With a large number of players on the market, only those companies that are able to merge subscriber-approved content and the latest technology will stay afloat.

The latest statistics indicate that content streaming began to make up a significant portion of internet traffic as more people had to spend time at home due to the pandemic. With COVID accelerating digital transition, many companies have found themselves on new turf, and their ability to adapt will determine their success in the years to come. 

What’s more, accessibility plays a major part in the increased popularity of streaming and the quality of streamed content. Thanks to the emergence of new technologies, streaming viewers enjoy engaging and memorable viewing experiences. With a large number of players on the market, only those companies that are able to merge subscriber-approved content and the latest technology will stay afloat.

Dramatic Increase in Media Consumption at Home

The pandemic induced a dramatic shift in the way people spend their time at home. With over 4.5 billion people using the internet every day, streaming services are now easily accessible to the biggest audience worldwide.

At the same time, fewer people are watching TV or listening to the radio, making streaming services like Spotify, HBO, Netflix, and many others now the #1 in-home entertainment sources. Major US networks lost over 5 million subscribers in 2020,as their one-time viewers are now watching streamed content. Looking at the data from all over the world, the numbers differ, of course, as TV remains the main source of entertainment in many places.

Live Streaming as a Social Media Marketing Strategy

Video streaming now dominates social media. Fueled by a massive audience that uses mobile phones to access their favorite content, YouTube has become the #1 platform for social media, followed by Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.

Live streaming has proved to be a successful way for marketers to reach their audience. Businesses now produce live events to promote products, engage with audiences and build a brand.

Infprgraphic that shows Top 3 Social Media Platforms for Video Marketing

OTT Services Partner with Mobile Operators

Over-the-top (OTT) media services were soaring even before the pandemic, with hundreds of millions of subscribers worldwide. Their popularity stems from their offer, which includes limitless access to video content. Platforms like Disney+, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and HBO—just to name a few—are some of the biggest names in the industry, with Netflix at the top.

With more original content, these platforms attract the younger audiences that are driving subscriber interactions on social media. Another way for OTT platforms to grow has been to partner with mobile operators and generate additional revenue. The model has proved successful as more mobile users activate free subscriptions.

Interactivity and Gamification

Allowing viewers more social interaction and mixed media experiences is one way for broadcasters to improve their offer. The lockdown pushed websites like Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook Gaming, and they all grew massively during the last two years. By leveraging its tech-savvy audience’s interests, Twitch added new features for live broadcasting to make it easier to air various types of content.

Broadcasters have started investing in real-time videos, interactivity features, and gamification. They’ve understood how important it is to develop new protocols that deliver real-time video at scale. Moreover, chats allow viewers to comment on their favorite content and share it with others.

As to sports, their earnings took a knock while stadiums and other public venues were closed. Some NBA teams decided to simulate games on NBA 2K and stream them on Twitch. Those games drew hundreds of thousands of viewers and showed great potential going forward. With more millennials and Gen Z opting for video and gaming subscriptions than traditional TV networks, it’s clear that this is the new direction in which the industry is heading.

Dynamic Ad-Insertion

While Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI) is not a new feature, it used to operate mostly through proprietary solutions. Third-party cookies are a well-established way of targeting ads across online platforms.

As OTT services move towards monetization, DAI can work as a valuable asset to fuel media channels. Once OTT platforms start using DAI, there should be a new wave of hyper-targeted ads that might exceed the number of ads seen on commercial TVs.

DAI can personalize the end-user experience, beat ad-blockers and ensure seamless transitions between content and advertisements. All these personalization models are projected to rise in 2021 as low latency services incorporate DAI

Co-Viewing Feature Becomes the Norm

OTT platforms have taken over as a new way to make connections among viewers. The concept of a shared watching experience is not new, but “synchronized viewing” allows true audience engagement that resembles going to the movies in a cinema with your friends or family—while sitting at home.

Synchronized viewing initially emerged on social media networks and surged in popularity during the pandemic. Until recently, synchronized viewing was mostly available on live sports apps and social networks like Twitch, or was supported via 3rd party applications like Discord. Now, Disney+ has introduced “GroupWatch,” Hulu launched “Watch Party,” and Amazon quickly followed by adding the same feature on Prime Video this year.

Co-viewing is a trend that streaming platforms are picking up as they realized the enormous potential and importance it has for viewers. With new, interactive features, viewers can connect and enjoy watching live-streamed content together. One of the biggest benefits for service providers is reduced piracy, as people have to be signed on to participate in co-viewing.

Next-Gen 3D

Consumers are always searching for new ways to enjoy content. Oculus was first to create a headset that could enhance the video gaming experience. Today, their focus is on video streaming and mixed reality, and other brands have entered the market to offer support for 2D and 3D video streaming.

With high demand for efficient and performant mechanisms to transmit 3D video content, Google, HTC, Samsung, and Sony started developing new-generation products for the video streaming ecosystem.

Wrap Up

Much innovation is born out of challenging situations like the 2020 pandemic. With the fast-paced development of live streaming technology to meet increasing consumer demand, we are witnessing the transformation of the technology used to deliver content and additional social activity features within platforms.

1. Leichtman Research Group report, March 4 2020 (August 16,2021) report