There are a number of interesting discussions taking place now over different business models for paid TV content, but one current debate feels a bit like a throwback to 2007: the practicality of video streaming versus video downloading.
Video streaming won out in the latter part of the decade for several reasons. First and foremost, the production studios prefer streaming because it’s easier to ensure content protection. Content owners have certainly sanctioned download models, but with limited flexibility on the consumer end. Second, rapid increases in broadband speeds and greater mobile broadband availability (including Wi-Fi) have made streaming video more viable. Third, advances in streaming technology, including adaptive bit rate streaming and dynamic ad insertion, have both improved the experience and made it more profitable.
However, the streaming trend of the last few years may come up against new competition from video downloads going forward. Usage caps, particularly with mobile data plans, are a limiting factor for video streaming. And, perhaps more importantly, production studios are gaining confidence in content protection technology. That suggests that consumers will start to get more flexibility to move downloaded content around to different devices.
The cache-and-carry approach has its advantages. It won’t supplant the streaming model, which has admittedly gained significant traction, but it will increasingly provide a useful alternative that doesn’t rely on having a consistent broadband connection. The more the “carry” portion of the model is enabled – allowing users to move their video around easily – the more consumers will adopt a hybrid consumption model: more video downloading to go with that video streaming.