The launch this month of Disney and Apple’s identically named “Plus” services has finally awakened the broader world that the “streaming wars” or “streaming revolution” (take your pick) is upon us and that TV is going to change forever.
This news is being reported in a series of articles which attempt to explain the changes to the masses by taking a “here’s how this will affect you” type approach (which we support) and a “we just did a study and here’s what people are going to do!” (which we don’t.)
Few things are as hard to quantify as the way we will watch TV (future tense.) That doesn’t stop dozens of companies from trying however, with report after report predicting ad spend, time spent on mobile viewing, percentage of budgets that will be shifted to digital. number of programs that will be produced, amount of money viewers will spend on streaming services, etc. and so on.
It’s an interesting scenario because the more specific the numbers get, the more frequently they are quoted.
That’s because the Wild West nature of today’s TV industry means many companies are engaged in something called “market sizing’ or trying to predict the eventual amount of money that they’ll be able to make which then allows them to approach investors with a business plan outlining the actual amount of money they will eventually need to raise in order to make said hypothetical fortune.
So why not throw some numbers against the wall and see what sticks.
Market sizing predictions mostly disappear into the depths of various Powerpoint presentations (and we ourselves have been guilty of making such predictions on occasion, veering from “a lot’ into “$XX.XX million” territory.) And they do, in their defense, generally start with some sort of educated guess or at least someone who is capable of making one.
So there’s that.
And then you have all those surveys that make predictions based on asking consumers to predict their own behavior.
As if people really know their own minds.
There are, of course, all those “will you cut the cord?” surveys, which are akin to asking people on December 30th “will you go on a diet next year?”
Then there are surveys like the one currently making the rounds that ask consumers to predict how much money they’re likely to spend on streaming services in the future compared to what they spend now.
Which is a somewhat insane ask given that consumers have zero idea what those future streaming services will look like, making the question akin to asking “how much more would you pay for a flying car?”
Am I guaranteed a relatively smooth flight? How much will jet fuel run me per gallon? Will there be airborne traffic jams? Am I getting a luxury model flying car or a subcompact? Any hidden fees? Where do you park it?
You see where I’m going with this?
The one thing we know about the TV industry’s future is that it’s going to be different than it is today.
But that’s about it.
We can predict that major changes are likely to take place and maybe even give a vague time frame for those changes, but beyond that, we’re just shooting arrows in the dark.
So take this piece as a warning, because as the Flixcopalypse unfolds, we’ll be seeing many more “studies” (it sounds so much more scientific than “surveys”) about how and where and why and when consumers and advertisers are likely to spend their hard earned dollars.
Remember to take them with an extra large grain of salt, because the reality is they’re just guessing and no one knows anything, least of all the people who are in the middle of the storm.
It’s only after it passes that we can assess the damage.