If you think that competing with OTT giants like Netflix, Amazon or Spotify is impossible, think again. Despite Netflix and Amazon’s dominating presence in the entire streaming scenario, the OTT market still has room for all kinds of niche players that cater to a specific audience.
Take the example of CuriosityStream, a niche VoD service streaming high-quality documentaries that has predicted to reach more than 100 million households by the end of 2019. Its content library has more than 2,400 fact-based programs covering topics such as history, culture, technology and nature.
You too can not only launch your own niche streaming service and reach the likes of say, CuriosityStream, but also thrive as a niche player. Our streaming experts have curated some special tips for you to sail you through choppy OTT waters. But first, let us understand what niche streaming is.
What is niche streaming?
Niche streaming basically refers to streaming services that cater to a relatively smaller audience targeting specific taste groups. Unlike OTT behemoths like Netflix and Spotify that have tons of audio and video content, niche streaming platforms have smaller content quantity which covers very specific topics. For example, Magic Stream is a VoD service that caters to an audience who are interested in magic tricks only.
Niche streaming players are distinct from their more popular streaming service counterparts as they are providing genre-specific content for a particular audience instead of providing general content for a larger group of audience.
Some successful niche streaming services:
- Shudder– It is an American SVoD service that streams horror, thriller and supernatural titles at $4.99 a month.
- PokerGo– This OTT service streams content on the popular game of poker, giving its viewers access to live poker events and tournaments. It is available at a monthly pass of $10.
- Crunchyroll– Crunchyroll is synonymous with anime-based content like manga, music and TV dramas available at $7.99 a month.
- CuriosityStream– Created by the founder of Discovery Channel, CuriosityStream is an SVoD service that streams award-winning documentaries based on genres such as nature, history, science and technology. The standard service charges only $2.99 a month.
- Britbox– This SVOD service launched in 2017 as a partnership between ITV and BBC streams classic British programs including drama, mysteries, comedies, documentaries and soaps. It costs $6.99 a month.
- Dust– Independent studio Gunpowder & Sky launched its own streaming service, Dust, to stream science fiction content.
Can niche streaming services compete with OTT giants?
Do you really have to compete with the most popular OTT platforms?
Think in this way – Niche streaming services have their own market which is distinct in itself, that runs parallel to the more conventional OTT market dominated by streaming giants like Netflix or Amazon. In fact, some influencers have even argued the benefit of niche VoD services from the onward march of high-end OTT players because they have successfully exposed the streaming market but they do not pose themselves as a direct competitor to the niche players.
Walter Iuzzolino, the Founder of an AVOD niche drama service named Walter Presents, opines: “It’s true that distinctiveness can defeat scale. When we launched Walter Presents, which showcases the best award-winning foreign-language drama, we had an anxiety that we would simply create a content war with the streaming giants. But that simply didn’t happen.”
Iuzzolino asserts that steaming giants have a different complimentary market. “They lavish enormous amounts of money and offer everything like a supermarket, whereas we are more like a delicatessen, where you go to get something distinctive and special.”
How can you survive as a niche OTT player?
Of course, launching and surviving as a niche OTT service is not an easy job as there are more than hundreds of streaming platforms in the market. Standing tall among them are giants like Amazon, YouTube, Netflix, Spotify, etc. Standing out among the already overfilled crowd and carving a new way can be challenging for new and niche streamers.
While there have been some famous streaming video closures, such as NBCUniversal’s Seeso and WarnerMedia’s Filmstruck, there are other instances where niche SVoD services like CuriosityStream and Crunchyroll have managed to reach more than 1.5 million subscribers. So, what’s their secret? What is the key to creating a popular niche streaming platform? Our OTT experts have curated some expert tips that can help you survive as a niche OTT player:
1. Create compelling content– As a niche streaming service, you are providing exclusive content catering to a particular taste group only. So, your content should be so powerful that it should make you stand out among the niche OTT space.
According to Jon Cody, CEO of TV-4 Entertainment, “It’s important to keep evolving and iterating your service, developing and producing content that audiences have shown strong interest in. Ultimately, they will let you know if you have something worth paying for.”
Think like this- if you are running a streaming service based on magic skills, create unique magic tricks that are not available in any other platform. If your content is unique, people will appreciate and pay for it.
Take the example of Britbox, a subscription service that offers quality and affordable British TV content to North American audiences. It presently has 4000 hours of content, making it the largest storehouse of exclusive British content to the US and Canadian market. Since Britbox has content that is not available elsewhere, it has developed a large fan-base in Canada.
2. Promote customer loyalty– This is one of the most basic strategies for niche streamers to thrive in this highly competitive market. Customer loyalty can be achieved by either curating focused content on customers’ requests or even bundling handpicked content at an attractive price.
Findings of a recently conducted survey portray that 79% of end-users recommends a streaming service if they have had a positive experience. So, if your end-users build a sense of loyalty towards your service, they can recommend your platform to others and in this way, you can build and grow your network.
3. Offer attractive price points– Well, content quality matters, but affordability matters too. If end-users can afford your service, then there is no point in launching the service anyway. Many niche players are turning away customers from bigger providers by setting affordable price points.
While a basic Netflix plan costs $8.99 a month, where users don’t even care to watch more than half of the content that is available, niche streaming companies are either giving away exclusive content for free or charging a negligible monthly fee. Take the example of THEA – an OTT service that features short videos, films and documentaries made by local Atlanta filmmakers. The VoD service has a total of 875 video content clips and the filmmakers are providing the service for free in the hope of getting advertising revenue in the future from platforms like Roku to sustain basic technology costs.
Niche streaming services with its unique content and teeming subscribers have a lot of potential to compete with top-notch OTT players in the future. Adaptability to change and modifying marketing strategies based on frequently changing OTT dynamics is the key to survive and thrive in the streaming landscape.
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