Get ready to be overwhelmed by streaming services all over again.
The top subscription streamers are set to more than double the number of available pricing tiers in 2024, introducing options that include access to premium content, yearly contracts, bundles, and more, according to Deloitte’s annual TMT (technology, media, and telecom) predictions for next year.
“Will there be the right option for everyone, will it help the streamers grow, and will it reduce churn? Or will it be like a restaurant with a 15-page menu…so many choices that consumers can’t make up their minds?” the firm asked in its study.
You’re already seeing the results of the streaming services’ shift to prioritize profitability. Virtually every streaming service has raised prices on their existing plans, or introduced new tiers, like Max’s Bleacher Report sports add-on, which will costs an additional $9.99 a month starting in March. Netflix brought back its basic plan — with a $2 increase. Disney+ and Netflix introduced cheaper ad-based tiers, with Amazon set to roll out ads next year, with the option to pay $2.99 to remove them.
But, according to Deloitte’s predictions, this is just the first step. The top U.S. providers offer an average of around four pricing tiers, typically ranging from a cheap ad-based one to a premium one with offline viewing and 4K or Dolby Vision quality video. That average is expected to double to eight tiers next year, with the firm noting that some may offer many more.
“As streaming services work toward profitability, they’re getting resourceful with how they offer content to viewers,” said Jana Arbanas, vice chair of Deloitte who leads the firm’s telecom, media, and entertainment coverage.
These tiers show that the days of paying a single rate for all of the content are long gone, and that consumers will need to do more homework when figuring out which plan is right for them. This gets infinitely more complicated as people are increasingly looking to trim their budgets and keep their subscriptions to a minimum.
Deloitte notes that streaming services are pivoting hard after the media companies dropped the ball on several predictions on streaming services, including prioritizing subscriber growth at all costs and assuming the heightened viewing during the pandemic would hold up after things went back to normal. The result are an increasing number of options.
Beyond offering offline viewing through downloads or higher-quality video, new (almost certainly more expensive) plans could include access to live sports (like the Bleacher Report) or video games. The services could also take a page from the pay-per-view playbook and charge extra for live sporting events or other limited time premium content. That could even mean early access to high-profile shows and movies for premium subscribers, with lower end plans having to wait.
Some of that premium content could also be saved for customers willing to pay for a full-year of service, reducing the chance that they’ll cancel or switch to another service.
Conversely, there could also be more variability on the low end with ad-supported services. Deloitte’s study found that consumers were willing to accept more ads per hour if it meant a cheaper service.
Deloitte also predicted that some services may make it harder to cancel, including using bundles of different streaming options, or partnering with mobile or telecom players.
“It has been said that history doesn’t exactly repeat but it does often rhyme, and 2024 will likely see a return of some of the mechanisms and business models that helped media and entertainment companies become highly profitable before the streaming revolution,” the firm said.