It doesn’t take a technological Darwin to recognise the changing landscape of how we consume entertainment content such as TV shows, movies and music. A number of us now head straight online if we wish to pass a few hours by. Watch the latest series on Netflix or look at a goat falling over on YouTube. Increasingly, we’ll decline the banal ramblings of (enter generic daytime TV host here) and choose original, exciting content through online platforms.
That push towards subscription-based original content viewing is gathering pace. Joining the likes of Netflix and Amazon are two new players in the market, Google and Disney. Both of the brands named above have staked their claim in the content subscription market by announcing the launch of their own services.
YouTube Red is Google’s attempts to gain traction in the content subscription market. Launching initially in the US, the service will offer their own original, exclusive programming. High-profile YouTube stars such as PewDiePie, Rooster Teeth and Lilly Singh are amongst those who have signed up, with details of their shows already revealed.
Amongst the YouTube originals will be:
Scare PewDiePie– A reality adventure which stars the YouTube gaming icon as he encounters scenarios based on his favourite video games. The creators and executive producers of The Walking Dead are on board.
Sing It!– A comedy show that satirises reality singing competitions.
Fight of the Living Dead– A reality show staring YouTube personalities who are thrown into a realistic zombie apocalypse.
I Am Tobuscus– A scripted comedy revolving around a YouTube creator and his quest for world stardom.
YouTube will even be creating their own content specifically for VR. MatPat from The Game Theorists will be creating a TV series which explores the science behind video games, built specifically for Virtual Reality. As you’d expect, users who do jump the paywall and invest in YouTube Red will enjoy all this new content without any pesky advertisements.
From the 28th of October, US-based YouTube users will be able to enjoy a month free trial of the service, with a view to signing up at $9.99 a month. Where YouTube may hold the upper hand when compared with rival services is the four-pronged attack that YouTube Red will have on your entertainment viewing. Alongside access to their unique content, subscribers will also get:
- Access to YouTube Music, which was announced a few months ago under the name “YouTube Music Key”. The service offers ad-free unlimited music video streaming and downloads.
- Google Play Music, Google’s answer to Spotify.
- YouTube gaming, an app built for gamers who want to keep up with the latest happenings in the industry.
They aren’t the only worldwide brand who are dipping their toe in the streaming service pond. Disney, home of children’s animation movies and a number of entertainment powerhouse brands such as Marvel and Star Wars, are also launching their own streaming service.
Disney Life will contain a number of the company’s best-known films, with music, books and TV programming all rolled into the service. They have noted that any titles from famous franchises that they own the rights to, namely Star Wars and Marvel, will be absent at launch. Costing £9.99 a month, Disney Life will differ from YouTube Red by launching in the UK.
What it means
The shift in emphasis from Google and Disney is hardly surprising, but ultimately significant of a changing industry. Increasingly, lines are being blurred between content creators and distributors. Traditionally, a company would produce some content, and look to sell it onto a broadcaster, who would draw most of their content from these various creators.
Today, creators are distributing their own content directly to the customer, and traditional broadcasters are creating their own content. The modern approach has been perfectly encapsulated by Netflix. After recently announcing they wouldn’t be renewing contracts with major film distributor Epix, the subscription powerhouse marked a clear pathway to providing their own content.
Conversely, creators of content such as Disney or HBO are choosing to provide their own online platforms for providing this content, rather than selling it on for others to use. This way, producers have a direct relationship with their customers, and cut out the middleman.
Will these new channels work?
For Disney, you can see how their new channel could easily turn a decent audience. Armed with one of the world’s biggest brands, parents could easily see value in spending a tenner a month and converting that into several hours of keeping their kids quiet. As Disney’s content sees itself stripped from other sites (as we assume it might), customers interested in streaming services to please the younger ones might come directly to Disney- and often price is no object.
For YouTube, there is cause for more debate. After basing the entire existence of your service as providing droves of free content, how many of us are likely to choose to pay for it? Sure, ads are annoying and getting rid of them is great, but most of us are willing to grim and bare it in order to not pay a penny. YouTube won’t be expecting a high percentage of their users to suddenly switch, but given the more rounded entertainment package that includes music, gaming and TV, rivals service such as Apple Music and Spotify will have taken note.