The Battle of Social Networks vs Streaming Services

Social networks create their own web series as streaming wars continue.
Wednesday 13 November 2019
Social networks are on the lookout to create more online series. Photo: Unsplash

Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat are creating their own original shows to get their piece of the advertising pie. Traditionally, these social networks have always been the go-to place for connecting with friends, keeping up with the news and posting user-generated content.

So what caused the change?

In recent years, social networks have invested in creating online series which are free to view – unlike the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney Plus, who charge for subscriptions. For YouTube, offering high-quality series helps enhance its reputation.

Professor Mark Beal of New Jersey-based Rutgers University, who wrote the Decoding Gen Z book, said “Young people do not respond to traditional advertising.” However, Beal added they may be more receptive to branding tied to original content on social network platforms such as YouTube.

When YouTube first started churning out their very own series, the company focused on quantity over quality – similar to the model of streaming services. However, YouTube is now choosing to go on the opposite direction. The focus of quality over quantity sees the company scraping multiple new and existing programs to focus on a few successful shows.

Facebook’s also following the same route. In October, it released Limetown, a web drama series starring Jessica Biel, based on a popular podcast of the same name. The show helps drive users to its Facebook Watch platform, while enhancing the social network’s image with prestige content.

Smartphones changing the way we consume content.

Social networks have one major advantage over streaming services. Photo: Unsplash

While there’s no running away from the allure of streaming services, social networks do have one major advantage when compared to the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime. The over-reliance on smartphones dictates the way we consume content. And the main cause of our mobile phone addiction, are undoubtedly social networks

Therefore, social networks could have a major say when it comes to content consumption, in this case, via the production of web-based series that rivals streaming services. Snapchat is a great example of this. The platform creates fictional programming to increase user interactions and time spent on its platform, but in its own distinctive way.

Episodes are typically only a few minutes long, shot at a frantic pace with flashy visual effects, and are filmed vertically to suit smartphone viewing. And unlike YouTube and Facebook, Snapchat is not holding back on quantity. In April 2019, it announced six brand new scripted shows, followed by a further three in September and another one in October.

“Mobile is now the dominant medium for telling stories and consuming content,” said Snapchat original content head Sean Mills. So it might only be a matter of time before YouTube or Snapchat’s version of Friends and Breaking Bad becomes the talk of the town.

Source: AFP Relax News

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