To see the phenomenon Stranger Things, you must have Netflix. The overproduction Westworld it is only enjoyed on HBO Spain. Arde Madrid, one of the most jailed Spanish productions of last year, is in Movistar +. A favorite of critics, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, You can only see it on Amazon Prime Video. The praised performance of Benedict Cumberbatch in Patrick Melrose You will find it in Sky. For many others you have to browse Filmin, Rakuten TV, Facebook Watch, Orange Series, Flixolé, Fox Now, AXN Now …
Video on demand services, both paid and free, multiply at a time when the television industry is experiencing a permanent revolution. Each one tries to attract the viewers with their own and exclusive content. In January Acorn TV arrived in Spain (4.99 euros per month), available in smartphones and with television productions from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada and Australia. And he is preparing his landing in March Dazn (price to be announced), focused on the sport and that will come with the MotoGP, the Premier League and the Euroleague basketball.
If more than a dozen options already seem many, to these could be added next releases that, almost with total security, will arrive in Spain. Disney + will start at the end of the year in the United States with an investment of about 500 million dollars in original content for its launch. Apple will also launch its platform this year, which already has actors and creators such as Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon or J.J. Abrams. Warner will launch its own video on demand service later this year.
The television landscape was already very fragmented by the proliferation of channels on traditional television. Now we must add the presence of video platforms on demand. Users see how the program they have recommended is on a platform that they do not have contracted, the bill at the end of the month does not do more than upload. If someone were subscribed to the seven main platforms in its basic version, would pay 135 euros per month (the minimum wage in Spain is 900 euros per month and the average salary, 1,951 euros). According to the consultancy Leichtman Research Group, 43% of American households are subscribed to more than one platform: the average is two or three video services in streaming per household and almost always one of them is Netflix.
"One thing is the course that the television market is taking and quite another, the mass of subscribers that are capable of scratching those services," says Elena Neira, professor of Communication Studies at the Open University of Catalonia. For Neira, it is already indisputable that audiovisual groups must have a section dedicated to the streaming. "Traditional media have understood that the present means assuming the fragmentation of consumption and the multiplication of agents," he adds. For other companies, their video on demand services are just a means to a larger goal. The purpose of Apple is to sell their devices. Amazon includes its series within the Amazon Prime subscription. Facebook seeks to retain more time for users within the social network. Movistar only offers its television in packages with telephony and Internet.
How long will the market endure at this rate before saturating platforms? "It will depend on the money that these companies can invest, their capacity to scale the business globally and to survive with low margins," Neira answers. This multiplication of players has already had some victim. The series offered by YouTube Premium (titles like Cobra Kai, that recovered the characters and actors of Karate Kid, or the science fiction story Impulse) They have become accessible free since January. The payment for your watch your episodes has not worked.
"The battle seems to favor the pioneering platforms, especially Netflix, they have a lot of ground gained because they have dedicated a lot of time and resources to gain market share and to transfer the perception to the average viewer that it has a very wide catalog of leisure and entertainment. "says Neira. Other voices point to the services that are aimed at a more defined and niche audience as those who have more chances to survive in this jungle of options. The last word, in any case, has some viewers converted into users and customers.
Faced with this fragmentation, the United States is already talking about the possible offer of packages that group some of these services to try to make life easier for users with offers and the same invoice. In that sense, in Spain Vodafone has agreements with HBO Spain and Filmin, while Movistar teamed up with Netflix in a union that just finished two months. In an interview with EL PAÍS last year, Sergio Oslé, president of Movistar +, before the alliance became official, already pointed to the link between platforms as something inescapable: "There is a lot of content, maybe too much, and maybe too many distributors and this will be bad for the consumer, at some point, the user will stop us and say that this is too complicated. "