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Editor's Note: The Streaming Gold Rush of 2021

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It's a cliché to say that the last year has been unprecedented, but for those of us in the online video industry, it's been especially so. And not just in terms of the sheer number of streaming service providers and platforms entering the market or the spectacular growth in viewing numbers, but also in the amount of investment and consolidation among technology providers. I could list them all here, but I’d need a full page!

Perhaps it's not entirely unprecedented, but you’d have to go back 15 years or so to see this much activity in the market. I asked Brett Sappington, VP of consumer insights firm Interpret, for his thoughts on the great streaming gold rush of 2021.

"Companies are realizing that many of the changes brought about by the pandemic are likely to be long term, and they are adding pieces that better position them for the future," Sappington says. Multi-party video conferencing is here to stay for both business and personal use, he adds, and live streaming, remote production, efficient online workflows, and analytics are key technologies for now and the future.

As I've spoken with vendors in the space, one consistent theme has emerged. Over and over, I hear them say that the streaming video industry has crammed 5 years' worth of growth and technology advances into 18 months. To keep up with demand, streaming tech providers have needed to grow quickly. "In some cases, companies are acquiring proven partners to enhance their current offerings," Sappington says. "In others, they want to bring key expertise in house as they consider future product design."

So the big question is whether or not the activity will slow down. Sappington doesn’t think so.

"I think the activity will continue to be brisk in the short term," he says. "Overall M&A activity is high due to a number of factors, including available capital and a desire by companies to be more competitive coming out of the pandemic. In the video tech space, as companies make these acquisitions, rivals want to be sure to keep pace."

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