2021 Comperemedia Telecom & Media Trends: How’d We Do? (Part 1)
Each fall, we develop our annual industry trends based on industry observations, competitive marketing, and consumer data. This year, as the world navigated an ongoing pandemic, we observed a continued demand for internet connectivity and reliance on digital entertainment that has propelled forward many of the trends we predicted for the year. As we start preparing our 2022 trends, we continue evaluating the progress of the Comperemedia 2021 Telecom & Media Trends. Here’s how our four 2021 Telecom & Media Trends are shaping up so far.
Wireless Comes Home
Carriers will rapidly expand fixed wireless availability, driving better residential connectivity and heightened competition.
How’d we do? Spot on with the overarching trend, but a little off on one detail.
We are seeing an explosion of fixed wireless availability this year, particularly in the US, where T-Mobile and Verizon are key drivers of the trend. T-Mobile brought its Home Internet product out of pilot phase in April, making it available to 30 million homes, and the company launched a massive marketing effort to connect with rural and small-town communities as it brings more connectivity options to them. Verizon consistently expanded 5G Home markets throughout the year, and in July it doubled the availability of LTE Home (its other fixed wireless offering), which it is heavily promoting in direct marketing.
In Canada, Bell, Rogers and Xplornet are investing in partnerships and infrastructure to expand their fixed wireless capabilities. In February, Rogers for Business announced it was bringing broadband services to 52 communities throughout British Columbia, using fixed wireless.
As part of this trend, we also thought major carriers would introduce all-in-one wireless bundles, featuring both fixed and mobile wireless. While both Verizon and T-Mobile offer attractive bundled discounts to customers who take both mobile and fixed wireless services, neither of them nor any other company, has presented a true, all-in-one wireless bundle, yet. This may be due to the potential sticker shock of bringing these pricey services together, and/or the complexities of mobile wireless options that make it harder to pull into a one-size-fits-all bundle. We still think there can be attractive ways to feature this type of bundle, however, especially as more consumers are choosing to get home internet and mobile service from the same provider, according to Mintel research on home ISPs and bundled services.
With the pandemic making internet connectivity more vital than ever before, consumers have embraced fast, reliable connections in whatever way they can get them. Nearly seven in 10 internet subscribers don’t care how they get their internet (e.g., wired vs wireless), as long as it is fast and reliable. This appears to be a shift in perception, considering that in 2019, more than two in five mobile subscribers felt mobile networks couldn’t deliver the same quality of internet as cable internet, according to Mintel research on mobile network providers. The fact that consumers are more accepting of non-cable options bodes well for fixed wireless’s continued expansion, as well as new options like high-speed satellite internet in the years ahead.
License and Entertainment, Please
A changing streaming landscape, paired with production delays caused by COVID-19, will drive greater experimentation with licensing, paywalls, and theatrical windows, as streamers look to build and sustain excitement around their services.
How’d we do? Right on the money.
We’ve observed some interesting content licensing activity between services in 2021, which makes it clear that streamers are willing to explore new ways to license content as it continues to be an important revenue stream. It was particularly noteworthy that in addition to licensing content between streaming services, some streamers started licensing their content to TV networks in 2021. For instance, HBO Max licensed some of its originals to TBS and TNT networks. Reportedly, Netflix, which has heretofore avoided licensing its content to other services, has been considering licensing some of its older titles to CBS, Peacock and others.
With increasing streaming video consumption driving a greater urgency to keep content fresh, and continuing nervousness about in-person cinema visits, we anticipated that many streaming platforms would debut new movies both in theaters and on their services simultaneously. We already knew going into the year that HBO Max would bring a full slate of Warner Bros. films to its service and theaters same-day, and anticipated that other streamers would engage in similar activity. And they did – Disney+, Hulu, Peacock and others released select films on their services same-day.
We didn’t expect same-day releases on streaming platforms to become the norm (and they haven’t, as studios are embracing theaters again), but we did anticipate that theatrical windows would be forever changed as a result of shifting attitudes and consumer behavior that were accelerated during COVID-19. This is happening, too. Prior to the pandemic, the standard theatrical window (the time a film played exclusively in theaters) was 90 days long. The new theatrical window is winnowing down to 45 days or fewer, as indicated by moves from Disney, Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. this year.
Streaming video continues to upend traditional methods of consuming film and TV series. As we look to the years ahead (and the next trend on our list), signs point toward streaming video getting upended, or at least evolving into something new, as a result of greater interactivity and storytelling that spans multiple platforms.
Check out Part 2 to learn about how our predictions fared as we look at the ‘Multidimensional Engagement’ and ‘The Embedded Advantage’ trends.