Movie night’s gotten a reboot over the last several years. Rather than renting a tape and hooking up a VHS player, today’s viewers can simply pull out their smartphones or tell a robot to turn on the TV to start watching their movie of choice.
And thanks to streaming services, entertainment is now more accessible than ever. In fact, in 2018, time spent using streaming apps increased 140%. When did this big shift toward streaming apps happen, and where is technology heading? Let’s take a quick look at the history of streaming apps and what’s on the horizon.
History of Streaming
In the mid-90s, download speeds were minuscule and the streaming capabilities consumers are used to today wouldn’t have been possible. As soon as high-speed internet hit the scene, the game changed:
- 2000: Broadband internet launches, making sluggish dial-up a thing of the past. With more bandwidth available for downloading and streaming, websites see an increase in user-generated content.
- 2005: YouTube, the first major website for video streaming, launches.
- 2006: High-speed broadband internet reaches thirteen million users.
- 2007: Netflix begins streaming movies and television shows
- 2008: Hulu and Amazon Video follow Netflix, and the streaming revolution begins.
- 2009: The US government mandates all television stations to broadcast exclusively in a digital format, making streaming a clearer and even more appealing way to watch TV and movies.
- 2010: Netflix launches its first streaming app for Apple devices.
Current Streaming Trends
Today, consumers have several convenient ways to watch their favorite shows and movies wherever they are: on the go, in bed, or just about anywhere else.
Along with the streaming apps offered by Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and Amazon Prime, streaming hubs are gaining popularity, making it easier than ever to stream content. Streaming hubs allow users to access their favorite apps instantly, rather than having to connect their laptops to their TVs via an HDMI cable every time they want to stream video. Brands like Xbox, PlayStation, Roku, and AppleTV pioneered the way for consumers to stream movies, shows, and live television without a computer, and Amazon’s Fire Stick, and Google’s Chromecast joined the game soon after.
But with so many streaming devices available, consumers have a hard time deciding which streaming hub to use, and many people use multiple streaming hubs in a single home.
Television manufacturers came up with an easy alternative to streaming hubs: the smart TV.
In 2013, Samsung released its first smart TV, equipped with streaming apps, in the US—all viewers needed were an internet connection and a streaming service subscription to start watching content. Now, almost all smart TVs come preloaded with the latest streaming apps.
However, many people still prefer a streaming hub over built-in smart TV apps, depending on the TV’s quality.
Live TV Streaming Services
Consumers value paid TV packages for access to live video streaming. Dozens of networks—including Fox, NBC, ESPN, CNN, and CBS—offer in-app live streaming. However, many of these apps require provider-specific login credentials for full access. Whether it’s for an award show, live sports streaming, or viewing another televised event, there’s an app for that.
Streaming video on a phone used to be a last resort. Apps were clunky and download speeds were unreliable. Now, mobile streaming is one of the most popular ways to stream content. And as phones get bigger and cellular service improves nationwide, mobile streaming will likely maintain its popularity.
Cable and Satellite Streaming Apps
Satellite customers can now use streaming apps like DISH Anywhere to access exclusive channels and DVR recordings away from home. Paid TV packages offer great value to consumers who also want to access free media content on network apps like WatchESPN and Showtime Anytime.
The Future of Streaming
The future of streaming hinges on technological advances and consumer demands. For example, Netflix Originals increased by 88% in 2018, proving the company has the technology, time, and money to create original content specific to its customers’ interests. Other streaming platforms, like Amazon Prime, have followed suit, and consumers can likely expect more original content to air in the future.
Additionally, virtual assistants like Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa currently play a role in streaming apps. Digital assistants can be programmed for tasks such as turning on a streaming app, pausing a show, or adjusting the volume through simple voice commands. Since virtual assistants don’t require consumers to have extra equipment to control their entertainment systems, the entire process becomes smoother and easier—and it will likely get better as technology advances.
Streaming apps have certainly changed television and will continue to shape the way viewers consume entertainment for years to come.