Streaming’s Evolution: From Growth to Profitability, Industry Leaders Discuss Future Trends


The streaming industry is at a crossroads, with user growth slowing and major players seeking to consolidate. Despite this, profitability is finally within reach, particularly for Netflix. The New York Times recently interviewed several industry leaders, including Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos, Amazon’s Prime Video head Mike Hopkins, and IAC chairman Barry Diller, to gauge their thoughts on the future of streaming.

There was broad agreement on several key themes, including the introduction of more ads, higher prices, and a shift away from big swings on prestige TV. These changes are driven by the need for profitability, rather than growth at all costs. Prices have been steadily rising, with the introduction of more affordable subscription tiers for viewers willing to watch ads.

Executives believe that streamers will continue to raise prices for ad-free tiers, pushing customers towards ad-supported subscriptions. The growth of ad-supported streaming could also impact the types of movies and shows produced, as advertisers tend to favor reaching a mass audience.

This shift is already underway, with executives insisting they’re not abandoning their hopes of finding the next “Sopranos” or “House of Cards.” Sarandos noted that Netflix can produce prestige TV at scale, but also emphasized the importance of other types of content. Hopkins similarly stated that Prime Video needs both tried-and-true formats and big swings that surprise and delight viewers.

Other predictions include greater investment in live sports, more bundling, and the potential shutdown or merger of some existing services. There was consensus among executives that streamers need at least 200 million subscribers to be competitive. While some changes may be welcome, they reinforce the sense that streaming will not be drastically different from the old cable TV ecosystem.

Anthony Ha
Anthony Ha
Weekend Editor. Previously, Anthony worked as a tech writer at Adweek, a senior editor at the tech blog VentureBeat, a local government reporter at the Hollister Free Lance, and vice president of content at a venture capital firm. He lives in New York City.

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