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Expect Major Changes to Streaming Market in 2023

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After the ups and downs of 2022, 2023 is already shaping into a year of significant changes to the streaming market. Richard Schneider, CEO of Antennas Direct, outlines specific factors that will come into play that could dramatically alter the current landscape of the streaming sphere.

The first big shakeup is the anticipated consolidation of major players and the subsequent impact on programming offerings. “The Gold rush to streaming has turned into a bloodbath for the major players,” Schneider says. “Not surprisingly, we will see a pullback in spending on sports rights and scripted series.  The burn rate for content and rights holders is unsustainable with the Sinclair regional sports networks (RSNs) likely to file chapter 11 bankruptcy in Q1 2023 with some of the rights reverting to a mixture of streaming and Over-the-Air (OTA).”

A subsidiary of Sinclair, Diamond Sports Group, currently carries over $8 billion in debt and is suffering from the delayed launch of their direct-to-consumer Bally Sports+ service, along with other market pressures such as widespread declining subscription numbers, and rumors that major sports leagues are in talks to buy out Diamond Sports. According to Ampere Research, the cost of producing scripted narrative shows has also contributed to a decline in new orders, dropping 24% in the second half of 2022.

Another revelation is that linear and OTA are not as on the verge of extinction as once thought, especially with the advent of Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) 3.0, which will greatly improve the broadcast quality of both video and audio. Schneider considers this as one of the most unexpected recent upsets for the industry as a whole.

Sinclair says, “Over-the-Air viewership will continue to climb, and people will accelerate the adoption of antenna television into their viewing habits. The rollout of ATSC 3.0 (Next Gen Broadcasting) will accelerate this trend. With over 100 markets on air before the end of 2023, the first 4K broadcasts will begin before the end of Q3 2023. ATSC 3.0 is IP broadcasting, essentially streaming over the air with the added benefit of unlimited concurrency. ATSC 3.0 will give viewers additional rationale to cut the cord and trim back on streaming services.”

Current inflationary economic factors are also inevitably influencing consumer streaming spending habits. Suppose large industry entities do not change their business approaches. In that case, further reductions in revenue are likely to occur, while more flexible small-scale players stand to reap the benefits of this fallout. “As people review their monthly outlays, there will be a reduction in all forms of pay TV, including streaming content,” Schneider says. “The media landscape will look radically different in a year, much like a Godzilla movie, with major media players duking it out, destroying Tokyo, with some tapping out or going bankrupt, with a few players surviving in their current form.” This only further strengthens OTA broadcasters. “While the major players continue burning billions, killing their balance sheets, and damaging their core businesses, a little company staffed by handsome people in the Midwest will sell more antennas while Tokyo burns. Unlike the next big thing, OTA is profitable,” Schneider says.

There has already been a measurable shift towards the dominance of live-TV ad-supported streaming services such as Sling TV, FuboTV, and YouTube TV, reflecting the overall shift towards more traditional linear TV-viewing habits. Along with the rise of ATSC 3.0, this does spell out a monster-movie-like shakeup of the industry that should keep the experts at the edge of their seats.

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