Audials and the streaming wars in the pandemic
The past year 2020 was probably one of the most exciting in our company's history, because we found ourselves in the middle of a global technical upheaval, the "Streaming Wars", while the corona pandemic broke out across the world ...
The background: streaming - no stone is left unturned
In the "good old days" you consumed music from media (such as CDs or mp3 files), television was viewed linearly (you chose from dozen of channels, saw what was coming), and listening to the radio meant listening to regional stations on FM frequencies enjoy. For several years it was already becoming apparent that these times would soon be irretrievably over.
Because the alternative media consumption via streaming is easy to consider: Everyone in the world can always see and hear whatever comes to mind, anytime and anywhere - an extremely tempting promise. It was therefore foreseeable for a long time that this would completely change the world of media consumption - new players would appear, the "old media" would have to change drastically or gradually disappear.
This upheaval accelerated dramatically in 2020, especially in the video sector - but what no one could foresee was the unexpected role of the corona crisis.
Early 2020 - "Begun, the Streaming Wars have!"
The television market is gigantic: on average, people watch TV between 3 and 4 hours a day, depending on the country. It is actually - together with "sleeping" and "eating" - the most widespread leisure activity worldwide.
Now the situation was heating up: the pioneers Netflix and Amazon Video had been available for years and had captured the lion's share of the dynamically growing video streaming market. For the actors of the "old television world" an obviously extremely threatening situation - they had to act consistently or would disappear.
Disney used its top content consistently: In 2019 “Disney Plus” was launched in the USA. Star Wars, the Marvel Universe, the Pixar films - this new service became an overwhelming success worldwide, the “Big 2” became the “Big 3” providers.
The choice of strong content for users increased enormously. It was our job to keep our PC software solution compatible in order to be able to record everything in the highest quality.
Spring 2020 - Covid strikes, the first lockdown - video streaming is booming!
A new coronavirus appears completely unexpected. And shortly after that came the lockdown. From “now for the same” we largely switched to home working. Fortunately, our team had been working internationally for years, and home working was already well established, so we were "used to" discussing everything important via video conference. So we managed this change without any problems.
For many people, this first lockdown was not only bitter, but also one thing above all: boring! So many occupied themselves with discovering the possibilities of the "brave new video streaming world". Netflix even had to consider reducing the quality - which they were largely able to avoid.
On the one hand, the Easter season was exhausting for us - because our work processes had to be reorganized and, above all, the great uncertainty “how will it all go on?” Also bothered us. On the other hand, it was also extremely successful: As more people use video streaming, the use of our software also increased sharply.
Summer - just a little relaxation
Finally the lockdown was over, the "time of relaxation" began. The use of streaming remained high - because once you have enjoyed the freedom to see what you want, when you want, you no longer want to go back to linear television. In the important case of being able to watch broadcasts live and in real time, “Twitch” and “Youtube Live” established themselves as central platforms instead. Podcasts and audio books were also able to continue their boom.
Late autumn - Corona 2.0, creeping death of the cinemas?
At the same time, the “Streaming Wars” continued to heat up: With “HBO Max”, another of the major content providers, Warner Media, started its own streaming service, initially in the USA.
In order to be able to hold its own against the already established top dogs Netflix, Amazon and Disney+, HBO Max pulled a trump card up his sleeve: Up until now, it was customary for "film exploitation" to follow a sequence: first, new films are only shown for the cinema. It takes months for them to appear in streaming services (or on Blu-ray or DVD, etc.).
For many people, this is the main reason for going to the cinema: Although you could "gawk" in the highest quality at home thanks to huge 4k televisions - but the very latest films were only available in the cinema.
The cinemas were already suffering enormously from the corona pandemic; in 2020 they were simply largely forbidden to show films. Now Warner released the film "Wonder Woman" simultaneously on HBO Max and in the few still open theaters. Commercially it was a huge success, so they indicated that they would always want to do it this way "until further notice" in the future.
It is foreseeable that the other content producers will follow suit - because the “streaming wars” are brutal and require “maximum commitment”. And unfortunately it is also foreseeable that this could become the “coffin nail” for many of the Corona-weakened cinemas, because it deprives them of an essential livelihood. Some films still try to stick to the old film exploitation - and suffer: The release of the new James Bond film "No Time to Die" has been delayed for over a year.
Audials at the cutting edge
For Audials, however, the year was positive from a brand perspective - although we are of course worried about everyone's worries: Our new software generation “Audials 2021” was an enormous success, and 2020 brought us significant growth. Audials 2021, for example, is able to accelerate video streams to double the speed and record them without any loss of quality! We were also able to accelerate the recording of music enormously. Despite all the "Corona adversities", we succeeded in releasing this new, world-leading streaming recorder software in September. The work paid off: It became the most successful product that we had ever developed!
We also closed the year with the release of a completely redesigned app for Android, which is popular with millions of users, especially for listening to streaming radio, podcasts and music.
2021 - what's next?
However, the development in the streaming market is irreversible. We can foresee that streaming will take over the entire television market worldwide, as well as radio and music listening, and will become the only transmission technology in the long term.
There will be an uphill battle between the providers; some will prosper while others will perish. The motto “content is king” remains: only those who offer the best content, and that exclusively, can win.
Users will benefit from a wide range of high-quality media, but will also suffer from the confusion and changing availability - Audials has decided to provide further help here. We are already working flat out on new, exciting extensions to our leading software and apps to discover and record streaming content and enjoy your own media collection.
The Audials Mission - It's my stream
Our team sees it as a task to help the user stay in control of the “brave new streaming world”. We want to make it possible to
- find and enjoy content that is as interesting as possible from a large number of providers. Radio streaming, music streaming, podcasts, video streaming, live TV streaming - because the streaming world is immensely large and offers millions of pieces of content
- create your own music and film collection as a private copy by means of a highly optimized recording as a private copy - because the streaming world is volatile, the offers are constantly changing
So we naturally found ourselves in the middle of the “Streaming Wars” and so far had a challenging but also exciting “Corona time”.