What Can Streaming Platforms Learn From Digital Media Content Creators?

By Victor Potrel, VP of platform partnerships at TheSoul Publishing

Content consumption habits have changed. Driven partly by younger generations who have grown up with smartphones and numerous other digital media for entertainment, the volume of content watched online continues to rise.

Traditional TV channels and even newer streaming platforms now have to compete with popular social media outlets, which are continuously adopting increasingly innovative approaches to secure audience attention.

Digital content producers are also harnessing the power of this growing opportunity by creating engaging and high-quality content that rivals content produced by Hollywood. 

In particular, TheSoul Publishing, as the world’s most prolific digital content producer, is responding to this opportunity. Ever since the company created its first video in 2016, TheSoul’s strategy of monitoring trends, adapting quickly, and experimenting with new technologies and platform innovations has led us to become extremely successful.

That success has translated into a growing audience of more than one billion subscribers across its channels and has generated more online views (according to Tubular 2022 rankings) than any other media company, including Disney and Viacom-CBS.  

To stay relevant in the industry, digital content producers are adapting to the combination of continuously changing viewing behaviors and increased competition by reassessing their strategies more frequently.

On the other hand, traditional channels and streaming platforms have been less quick to integrate new trends into their business models.

Although they are facing numerous challenges, these channels and platforms must take stock and learn from leading social media content creators in order to compete in the increasingly crowded digital world.

Below are some key trends that reveal the challenges more traditional channels face, alongside suggestions on how to best tackle them.

The rise in short form content

Short form content is on the rise, demonstrated by the popularity of platforms like TikTok and the launch of YouTube Shorts in 2021. These videos, which are predominantly under a minute long, are changing the game, with newer streaming platforms such as Disney+ even incorporating short content alongside their long form shows. 

Short form content poses many advantages. Firstly, it takes less time to produce, allowing creators to quickly assess what works and adapt new content to suit their audiences. It also opens participation, which encourages audience engagement and the creation of user-generated content, which is known to build brand awareness and increase views.

The rise in multi-screening

There is also a sharp rise in the number of people using multiple screens simultaneously.  A recent survey by TheSoul found that the majority of British individuals (64%) currently use multiple screens in this way.

This trend has grown significantly since 2020, when only 51% used multiple screens. When exploring why this might be the case, the same survey revealed that consumers are increasingly turning to social media for a sense of community and to engage with others who have similar interests.

This type of content interaction naturally favours social media platforms that encourage cross-channel pollination and audience interaction. It is therefore important that streaming services cater to this demand by making better use of social media channels to ensure audiences can carry on the conversation beyond the shows they watch.

The power of free to access content

Finally, another advantage of social media content compared with content available on streaming platforms is that it’s free to access – with creators making their money through brand sponsorships or ad revenue instead of subscription fees.

Over the last decade, the subscription economy has grown exponentially. Streaming platforms experienced a boom during early 2020 as people were stuck at home looking for new forms of entertainment. However, in the first quarter of 2022, Netflix announced a drop in subscribers for the first time, hinting at a potential burst of the subscription bubble.

Naturally, different businesses will choose different business models, but there is something to be said for keeping content free to access. Not only does it offer greater access across the globe (and thus higher potential views), it also provides an alternative to consumers seeking to make spending cuts or who can’t afford a subscription. 

Adapting to suit consumer needs is key to business success, and it seems Netflix is already taking a leaf out of social media’s book by trialing a cheaper subscription rate that features ads.

The future of entertainment

The digital landscape will keep evolving, and new content platforms and creators will continue to appear, adding to the constant stream of engaging, entertaining, and high-quality content that can be reached by audiences easily with a single swipe.  

Social media channels and streaming services both drive and respond to audience trends. Entertainment producers across the board will need to take a responsive and flexible approach to retain audiences and meet the demand for more frequent, varied, and free content, which is already pushing more established platforms to up their game.