Streaming Services are Growing to Meet Global Need During the Pandemic

As companies struggled to find new ways to do business during the pandemic, streaming services really stepped up to the plate. They’re being used to a novel degree- and they may be changing the way we do business forever.

Where streaming stood in 2019

The streaming market looked bright at the end of 2019, with a value of $24.9 billion. Industry experts expected a steady growth of 4.5% over the next five or so years to reach $32.3 billion by 2025.

There was good reason for the modest but confident predictions. About 55% of households had at least one streaming service, with more being developed by major players like Disney and Discovery Channel. User-owned content on YouTube and other streaming platforms was growing as well. 

Enterprise adoption was rising at a slightly slower pace. It showed promise, but many companies still considered it a second best option compared to physical meetings and events. The conversation was, “Is streaming worth the effort?” instead of, “How do we stream effectively?”

Then the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and predictability went out the window. 

Throwing a wrench in “business as usual”

The pandemic was already starting to affect business when 2019 came to a close, and 2020 only made things worse. In an effort to limit the spread of the virus, governments imposed major restrictions on local movement, the use of public spaces, and international travel.

Under the weight of those restrictions, businesses that relied on in-person activity or movement were hit hard. That included:

  • Major events like conventions, sporting events, and concerts
  • Hospitality and recreation, especially restaurants, hotels, and fitness centers
  • Business-to-Business (B2B) interactions such as seminars and sales visits
  • Enterprise activity that requires personal interaction, like operations meetings and recruiting fairs

Even when events were allowed to take place, there were limits. Suddenly everyone was struggling with occupancy restrictions and sanitation protocols. At the same time, employee outages were at an unsettling high. 

The result was slower production, slower shipping times, and higher operational costs.

This had a devastating impact on global markets. Most major economies are estimated to have lost at least 2.4 percent of the value of their gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020. In the United States, which lost 2.3% compared to a 4% increase in 2019, that translated to a loss of over $500 billion

Stock markets reflected the damage. In its worst performance since 2008, the FTSE dropped 14.3% in 2020. As early as March 16th the Dow Jones Index was reporting a single-day fall of nearly 3,000 points- the all-time largest single day drop on record.

Streaming services to the rescue

Kept indoors and with unexpected time on their hands, people globally began spending more time on streaming video services. When the United States imposed their first widespread restrictions in March, Nielsen reported a 34% surge in streaming video on demand (SVOD) usage over just 2 weeks.

Streaming has become part of daily life instead of a coping mechanism. 75% of internet users are still watching more streaming content now than they were before the pandemic.

They aren’t just spending more time with SVOD. They’re also experimenting with variety. Platforms such as YouTube, Twitch, and creator-owned apps are seeing a significant rise in both new users and time spent on platform.

Content, not cost, has become the most important factor in choosing which subscriptions to prioritize. Only 46% of users say they choose a platform based on price. Instead, they follow content that speaks to them and are willing to pay a little more for consistent quality.  

How streaming services have transformed enterprise operations

The biggest change in streaming services during the pandemic has been a steep rise in enterprise usage. Companies who were considering widening their investment in streaming now rely on it to keep their business running smoothly.

Streaming services keep companies in touch with their employees. More than 89% of the workforce operates from home at least part time during the pandemic. That makes live streamed company and team building events critical interactive engagement tools. 

These events pays off in productivity and employee loyalty. Employees who consistently have positive interactions with company executives are three times more engaged at work. 

Businesses are also using streaming to continue their company training programs. This way they can stay compliant with federal and industry guidelines without putting their workforce at risk of exposure.

Customers respond to streaming media, too, with e-commerce live streams experiencing a boom. E-commerce streaming covers events like:

  • Live demos
  • Tutorials and training courses
  • Product releases
  • Interactive Q&A sessions
  • Live stream shopping

Live stream shopping has been a surprise hit during 2020. It’s bringing a dynamic experience to users who are shopping from home more often. The category generated $136 billion in China last year. Industry experts are watching for that success to fuel the growth of live stream shopping elsewhere over the next few years.

On a larger scale, virtual events are picking up the slack from major events which were cancelled due to the pandemic. There have been successful conferences, workshops, fandom conventions, and seminars throughout 2020. Some of the in-person aspects are limited, but the lower overhead costs and wider accessibility give these events an impressive potential for profit. 

Some industries caught up faster than others. The Detroit Auto Show- a huge annual event for the automotive industry- was cancelled with no virtual counterpart. San Diego Comic Con, which can be considered the entertainment equivalent to the Auto Show, went ahead with a live streamed event that included a virtual dealers floor and interactive fandom panels. 

Continuing a major event during the pandemic both protects a brand’s reputation as an industry leader and keeps the audience engaged. Streaming is a way to do that safely and economically.

Streaming’s impact on the music industry

Music has a complicated history with streaming services, but the pandemic has improved that relationship. Streaming was valued at $26 billion in 2019 and is projected to hit $46.9 billion by 2027. That comes at a time when downloads are dropping in popularity by more than 20%.

Live streamed concerts are growing in popularity and profitability.  Bandsintown tracked over 60,000 in 2020 alone. There was a huge boom in March, a steady upward climb through the summer, and a slight dip in Fall before the current rise of 5% monthly.

More than 80% of fans are interested in watching a live streamed concert now. More importantly, they’re willing to pay for the show. In June paid live streams were less than 2% of available shows; by November they accounted for nearly half. 

Having premium streams as a viable revenue source is helping many artists stay afloat with their usual concert schedule reduced or cancelled entirely. This is especially true for rising artists, who account for nearly 20% of live streamed shows.

What makes enterprise streaming so appealing?

Pandemic or not, streaming offers advantages even over live events at times. The most obvious is budget related. Streaming an event lowers costs for both the hosts in terms of overhead and attendees in their travel expenses and time expenditure. 

It’s possible to read a wider audience with streaming than a live event. Physically, the event isn’t limited to those who can spare the time and money to travel or by site occupancy restrictions. Simultaneous translation opens the door for attendees from other language groups. The virtual framework can be made more ADA accessible, too, which is a common stumbling block for live events.

Streaming is also more convenient for the audience. It’s less disruptive to their daily life, and if they can’t watch live hosts have the option to make the video available online afterwards. 

Most importantly, streaming services can still offer a high quality experience on par with live events. Because operational costs are lower, more of the budget can be directed towards higher tier guests, materials, and special effects.

It’s also possible to share things that can’t easily be shared in a conference center, such as:

  • Fixed-site prototypes
  • Demonstrations of large or space-sensitive services
  • Guests who can’t make time to travel

In short, streaming offers a comparable experience at a lower cost with more flexibility. That speaks to companies who are trying to do less with more to meet their business goals in a tough year.

What does the future of streaming services look like?

As you may have guessed, the streaming market is wildly outperforming expectations from 2019. It was predicted to reach $32.3 billion by 2025, but as of 2020 is already valued at $50.11 billion. Experts are estimating a growth rate of 21% through 2028.

There have been some technological stumbles adjusting to the increased demand on infrastructure, but at this point those are evening out. The ability to rapidly increase capacity to meet demand is winning over those who were skeptical. 

Now, streaming for enterprise is becoming as accepted as entertainment streaming. It’s no longer a fallback plan- it’s a viable first choice. Even after the pandemic fades into history books, streaming will remain a safe, reliable option for both work and play.


Whether you’re a creator looking to connect with fans or an executive planning your next corporate event, FanHero has the tools you need to get streaming. Claim your free consultation with a streaming expert now!



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