Discussion of the streaming wars tends to focus on content. For example, they talk about who has the deepest catalog or the best proprietary content. However, the technology behind content delivery is just as important as the content itself. Let’s take a look at the tech side of the streaming wars.
Major movie studios were afraid to release movies on streaming platforms because of piracy. This eats into their revenue. The worst-case scenario would be what happened to Game of Thrones. The season 8 premiere of Game of Thrones was pirated 54 million times, so the illegal streams had far more viewers than paying viewers. Every service needs to have protective measures in place to minimize streaming and identify illegal streams if they want to protect their cash flow. Patent enforcement may be necessary to use third-party content, too.
This guide about streaming services discusses some of the issues related to third-party content, though the challenge is so great that it led many services to work on creating more unique content. But you’ll still need intellectual property protections in place if you don’t want other people stealing your content and putting it on their sites. And warnings on the title screen are not going to matter to those stealing short videos and whole moves in mass.
HD streaming has become the norm, though customers may stream low-resolution content on mobile devices or save money. 4K is increasingly common though not yet the dominant format. But you need to ensure that customers get an uninterrupted data stream no matter what resolution they’ve requested. They don’t feel like they’re getting their money’s worth if they have a beautiful frozen image on their screen. This may force your company to invest in high-performance storage or distributed storage as well as bandwidth. Other services need to improve their gatekeeping so that premium content isn’t available to those who haven’t paid for it.
Scalability refers to how fast you can scale up if demand is greater than expected. A good example of this is when a video going viral puts so much demand on your service that servers crash. The best services have the ability to scale up in order to meet traffic surges. This is generally done by copying content to additional servers or opening additional ports while delivering content via the cloud. You want to be able to scale down, too, as demand slacks off so you don’t waste money for capacity that isn’t being used.
It isn’t enough to have high-quality video and great content. Your customers are consuming content in a crowded market. And your performance is being compared to that of every other site and service they use. Make sure that your service works seamlessly on the devices your customers use and that the latest version of your app doesn’t conflict with the latest OS updates. Ensure that content from your partners delivered through your service or ads stitched into the data stream doesn’t create problems for users. Experiment with improvements in content recommendations and the user interface but be willing and able to go back to the prior system if users hate the new one.