Streaming TV vs Digital Video

A question for you... What is the definition of TV?

If you thought about your answer for more than a few seconds, that’s simply evidence of TV’s growing complexity. Defining TV today is far murkier than it was 20 (or even two) years ago.

It’s time to find some clarity, at least about what TV is not.


What is Streaming TV?

Streaming TV refers to the delivery of TV content over the internet, which allows viewers to watch TV shows, movies, and other video content on-demand without the need for linear TV subscriptions. Plus, instead of broadcasting content that can only be watched on a TV set, streaming TV delivers to devices like smart TVs, computers, tablets, and smartphones. 


The Key Differences Between Streaming TV and Digital Video

As the lines between digital and traditional channels blur, there’s growing confusion on how to classify streaming TV, especially thanks to its new accessibility across devices. Some have wanted to resolve this confusion by thinking of streaming as a type of digital video. However, while both streaming TV and digital video involve watching content through digital means, they differ in the scope of content, how the content is accessed, and subscription models.  

Scope of Content

Streaming TV focuses on delivering television-like content through subscriptions or ad-supported models. In contrast, digital video includes everything from a short clip on a social media platform to a full-length movie on a streaming service, addressing a much wider range of purposes and audiences. 

Access to Content 

Streaming TV often requires a subscription to access the provider's content library. These platforms are accessible on smart TVs, smartphones, and computers, allowing the user to watch content wherever and whenever they want. Similarly, digital video is also available on multiple devices but offers a more open-access model and is usually free to view or supported by ads.  

Subscription Models 

Streaming TV typically involves paying a monthly fee to access video content without the need for a traditional cable subscription. However, free ad-supported content is growing more popular as a form of streaming TV. Digital video platforms also offer multiple tiers of access ranging from free to ad-free for a cost.  


The Blurring Lines Between Streaming TV and Digital Video 

Sure, “TV” is in the name, but how streaming is bought, sold, and measured is more digital than TV has ever been before. Which is why some brands have asked their digital video team to guide their streaming strategy. 

But even though streaming TV is watchable across any internet-connected device, most streaming still takes place on a television screen. Netflix has said 70% of streams take place on CTVs as opposed to mobile devices. And in 2021, more than half of YouTube viewers watched on a CTV. 

Although streaming has digital qualities, it’s still viewed as TV by the consumer. Brands interested in streaming should develop a strategy separate from digital video and more aligned with their traditional TV plans. 


Future Trends in Streaming and Digital Video 

Streaming TV and digital video platforms are already redefining the way we consume content. With new technologies, changing viewer preferences, and evolving avenues for content creation, we can expect a future where content delivery advancements, AI and personalization, and changing business models will dramatically transform both digital video and streaming TV.  


Advancements in Content Delivery 

5G and Beyond: The introduction of 5G technology is expected to revolutionize the streaming landscape, improving the quality of streaming and reducing buffering times. It will likely make 4K and 8K streaming more accessible to a larger audience and reduce latency. This will pave the way for real-time interactive content and live-streaming innovations. 

Cloud-Based Gaming and VR Content: Streaming isn't just for traditional video content anymore. In the future, we are likely to see a surge in cloud-based gaming and virtual reality content being streamed directly to devices, offering immersive experiences without the need for expensive hardware. Even today, platforms are experimenting with VR concerts, events, and interactive experiences, expanding the boundaries of digital entertainment. 


Artificial Intelligence and Personalization 

AI-Driven Recommendations: Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing content discovery by providing more accurate and personalized recommendations. Streaming TV platforms will eventually leverage AI to analyze viewing habits, social media interactions, and even emotional responses to tailor content suggestions, making discovery seamless.

Automated Content Creation: AI is also set to play a pivotal role in content creation. AI platforms can already generate music and video. Down the road, this content could be highly customized based on user preferences and trends, ushering in a new age where viewers can influence the storylines, characters, and settings of the shows they watch. 


Changing Business Models 

Microtransactions and Pay-Per-View: As consumers become more selective about their subscriptions, streaming services may adopt flexible pricing models. Microtransactions for premium episodes or pay-per-view for exclusive live events could grow more common, offering viewers the freedom to pay for only the content they want to watch.

Bundling and Collaboration: To combat subscription fatigue, streaming platforms might explore bundling services or collaborating with other digital services to offer comprehensive entertainment packages.  


Growth Ahead for Both Streaming TV and Digital Video  

The future of both streaming TV and digital video is filled with opportunities for innovation and transformation. As technology continues to advance, the boundaries of what's possible will likely only grow more blurry. But for now, while these two types of video share similarities, their differences are just as important.  

Streaming TV is already revolutionizing the landscape of entertainment and advertising. With a growing presence in homes across the country, streaming provides unique opportunities for brands seeking to enhance their visibility. Marketers can make the most of that opportunity by recognizing that, at the end of the day, streaming TV is exactly that... TV.  


Interested in learning more?  

Read our Streaming TV whitepaper to learn how advertisers are developing cost-effective streaming campaigns that drive business results. Or connect with our team to discuss how Annika Streaming could improve your streaming TV campaign.