The Streaming Wars Are Going To Be Brutal: Here's How To Survive

The Streaming Wars Are Going To Be Brutal: Here's How To Survive

It was just after midnight when I landed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, late last year. After a nine-hour flight, I just wanted to go to my hotel and sleep. Exiting the plane, my phone started to go off wildly — DramaFever, WarnerBros.’ streaming service centered on Korean Drama,  was shutting down .

But it’s not just DramaFever. Over the last year, some of the larger streaming services like Alpha, Filmstruck, and YahooView have all shut down. I believe we are in the early stages of a streaming media war. Unfortunately, we are going to see many more battlefield casualties — including some of America’s top brand names — before it’s over.

The challenge for incumbents and new entrants isn’t about entertaining audiences. Consumers absolutely love streaming video. Rather, the challenge is that consumers are not changing how much they are willing to spend on streaming subscriptions when compared to traditional terrestrial and cable television. On average, consumers spend about $35 a month on streaming services compared to more than $100 a month for cable subscriptions.

Although streaming pricing should increase as cord-cutting itself does, even if consumers are willing to pay a bit more to have a collection of streaming subscriptions, there’s still just not enough room for every entrant to the market.

What if cutthroat competition doesn’t scare you? Here’s how to claim your niche:

Grab A Highly Engaged Market 

Successful streaming services have superfans: a core group of extraordinarily dedicated, engaged and often lifelong fans. By first focusing on a dedicated niche market, such as sports or nature programming, streaming platforms can collect the resources and clout they need to scale.

Take Curiosity Stream, founded by Ex-Discovery Channel Chairman John Hendricks. CuriosityStream showcases real-world, nature-focused and education-driven content to a core base of engaged fans. The platform offers a mix of subscription types that range from $3 to $12 to engage fans at the highest level to those who are more casual. With over 2 million members, it’s clear that this entrant understood the value of pursuing an engaged fanbase.

More importantly, CuriosityStream also iterated and tested different types of content before greenlighting its most expensive tentpole series. Aside from other streaming entrants, this is a lesson for entrepreneurs generally: Test everything using a metrics-driven process.

Another example is MLBAM. After hitting home runs with and MLB Radio, MLBAM partnered with the NHL, PGA Tour and more to launch 120 Sports, a sports streaming video service.

One sport that has extraordinarily dedicated and passionate fans — but has yet to create a streaming platform — is NASCAR. NASCAR’s fanbase is extraordinarily passionate, maybe even more so than those in any other sport. In fact, their engagement intensity on social media channels like Facebook and Twitter after a race is more akin to the fervor of Tik Tok and YouTube influencer fans than any other professional league.

Go Where Your Consumers Are

Because I’m a millennial without a cable subscription, I can’t watch my favorite Showtime series, Billions. Showtime, like many networks and cable providers, requires consumers to subscribe to traditional cable providers in order to gain access to any online streaming content. Content providers that take such a “walled” approach shoot themselves in the foot, a mistake that often leads new entrants to the market to an early demise.

Never stop would-be customers from paying you for your service. Today’s most successful platforms are accessible to consumers through every outlet imaginable: Apple TV, Roku, mobile applications, social media and more. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different financial models to scale, including a mixed revenue base of advertisers and subscribers.

Try Advertising-Supported Models

Although a mixed model may be the future, there’s a reason broadcast television has stuck around for so long: Viewers don’t like to pay. Cater to them without shutting yourself off to customers who prefer a premium experience.

Iflix, which serves emerging markets like Southeast Asia and Africa, understands that it needs to provide Netflix-like service at a fraction of the cost. If iFlix users watch advertisements, then part of the platform is open and free. But if they want to see an in-demand series, then they pay a monthly subscription fee. Here in the United States, Spotify and YouTube operate the same way.

Advertising dollars are difficult to generate without a subscriber base, though. First, go where your customers are, then use a freemium approach to acquire new ones. Over time, you’ll lessen your reliance on increasingly scarce subscription dollars.

Be Aware Of Your Real Competition

With streaming services, the competition is steeper than you think. Netflix founder Reed Hastings believes that the company does not compete with other entertainment programmers as much as it competes with the likes of Fortnite — or even sleep.

Yes, sleep. Streaming services now have to compete with games, social platforms, apps and every other activity under the sun. Oh, and by the way, he says Netflix is winning.

This points to a key insight: Streaming services are competing to monopolize as much of their users’ time as possible. To make headway, streaming service entrants need to understand that they are competing with other types of entertainment applications, gaming, socializing, work and activities that also seek to both monopolize and even monetize people’s time. If your strategy is focused on competing with a new series on a different streaming service, then it may be time to reevaluate.

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The Streaming Wars Are Going To Be Brutal: Here’s How To Survive

Source: By Alex Gold

Perseverance: Why It Was Southwest Airlines' Herb Kelleher's Most Important Lesson for Entrepreneurs

Perseverance: Why It Was Southwest Airlines' Herb Kelleher's Most Important Lesson for Entrepreneurs

Sadly, Kelleher died last month. But his legacy lives on: Ever hear of how he and his airline became Texas's largest bourbon distributor?

I was actually on a Southwest Airlines flight when I found out that the company’s legendary co-founder and chairman, Herb Kelleher, had passed away. Kelleher died on Jan. 3, but over the five decades before that, his vision revolutionized air travel. His creation, Southwest — arguably the world’s first low-cost airline — democratized flying for millions.

The company’s differential was that by competing more with bus services than legacy airlines, it could disrupt the market. This strategy was so successful that in 1993, the U.S. Department of Transportation coined the term “The Southwest Effect” to denote an increase in origination air travel and a corresponding drop in prices, in any market the company entered.

This achievement alone is sufficient fodder for any successful entrepreneur’s legacy. But the fact that Kelleher achieved all of that in a company that was, and still is, ranked as the best place to work in America, with employees who would go without pay to work there, says even more.

And there’s yet another lesson stemming from Kelleher’s and Southwest’s story: perseverance. Kelleher’s life offers a unique guide as to how entrepreneurs can and should persevere through even some of the most daunting obstacles they encounter and still come out on top.

What, exactly, does “perseverance” mean?

The importance of perseverance in entrepreneurship cannot be overstated. Starting a new business may initially seem exciting but often, after a short time, the shock of reality sets in. Product, customer and regulatory problems hamper business growth, and many entrepreneurs end up playing an inevitable game of “whack-a-mole” just to solve their problems.

Perseverance is the ability of entrepreneurs to see through these obstacles and still win them, regardless of how daunting any specific challenge may be. Perseverance, in fact, is often the “secret sauce” that sets the most successful entrepreneurs apart from mere entrants in their field.

Stand for something more.

When Southwest Airlines was founded in 1967, the airline had no employees and no jets; it had to gain an operating certificate just to fly. Given the company’s innovative business model, incumbents like Braniff and Texas International (both of which no longer exist) attempted to block Southwest’s operating certificate through a series of historic court challenges.

Though his airline was effectively grounded for  four years, Kelleher hung in there; his persistence ensured Southwest would, and did, eventually fly.

To accomplish this feat, Kelleher first offered his time as a practicing lawyer for free. More importantly, when Southwest’s board of directors wanted to abandon the fight three years in, Kelleher shouldered all court costs himself to get the job done. It would take two Texas Supreme Court rulings and one U.S. Supreme Court ruling before the airline could actually fly.

Before he passed away, Kelleher remembered that during that tough time, he was fighting for something more: the right of free enterprise and the ability to open the skies to consumers who couldn’t afford to fly.

Of course there have been other entrepreneurs with the same kind of tenacity, founders who have carried out some mission of their own with the same motivational force Kelleher showed. Patrick Grove, the founder of iFlix, is an example: He persevered through multiple roadblocks to democratize access to media and information in Southeast Asia.

In the process, Grove created Netflix’s biggest competitor in the video-streaming market. Belief in something more powerful than just a new business or the profits it may bring — meaning a belief in the business’s mission itself — will motivate you, your employees, stakeholders and customers. By turning your business into a cause, you will be able to persevere through some of the darkest days as an entrepreneur.

Think differently.

Shortly after Southwest launched, Braniff thought that by launching a fare class at half of what Southwest was offering, it could undercut the airline and put it out of business. Other airline executives and the consumer press promptly wrote Southwest’s obituary.

But not Kelleher. He understood that to persevere through this crisis, the airline had to think differently. Examining revenue streams, he discovered that most passengers were business travelers on expense accounts who cared little for cost savings and more for time and convenience. So, he made a unique proposition: Pay the full fare and get a free bottle of Wild Turkey bourbon!

This promotion was so successful that over the course of just over six months, Southwest became the largest liquor distributor in Texas.

Stories abound of entrepreneurs thinking “around corners” and not giving up; This category includes people like the founders of Airbnb and GoodRX for example. The real lesson here is to look at the challenge and the situation before you and improviseuntil you win.

Like Kelleher, you should assess the real drivers of your business and the levers or incentives needed to change course in your direction — not to just react to the imminent threat. Often, creative solutions will materialize because by looking at a problem differently, you will come up with a divergent solution.

Perseverance matters.

Kelleher sits among a long line of great, and often colorful, entrepreneurs who disrupted and revolutionized their respective fields. The one thread nearly all of these leaders have and had in common, and which Keller possessed in spades, was the ability to persevere through the most challenging of circumstances.

Kelleher’s legacy not only shows us the power of “thinking around” the corners of a problem, it shows us the extraordinarily motivating power of believing in something — a mission — greater than oneself. That’s advice every entrepreneur should heed.

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Perseverance: Why It Was Southwest Airlines’ Herb Kelleher’s Most Important Lesson for Entrepreneurs

Sadly, Kelleher died last month. But his legacy lives on: Ever hear of how he and his airline became Texas’s largest bourbon distributor?
Source: By Alex Gold