’21 Predictions… how did we do?

Every year on this blog, I do two things. I make predictions for the coming year, and I look back at the predictions I made a year ago. Generally, I tend do be very wrong in my predictions. For you, dear reader, that makes them a lot of fun.

In my article last year I said the rapid rise in streaming services would all collapse as smaller, low-cost services disappeared. I called it “streampocalypse.” Was I right?

Surprisingly I’ll give myself a B- on this one.

No, there wasn’t this massive collapse of streaming services brought on by a return to normalcy. Partially that’s because we didn’t really return to normal in ’21 like we all hoped. But really that was a pretty long reach and it didn’t happen.

There was no massive crash of streaming services. Instead there was a slow, continued consolidation of the big boys. The smaller services didn’t disappear, but they became progressively less important. Ask yourself: when was the last time you downloaded a new streaming app? When was the last time you even tried one?

The big boys and the medium boys

As it stands now, there is really just a small clump of streaming apps that have taken off in the marketplace. You know the big boys: Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Prime Video, HBO Max, YouTube. I’m willing to guess that 90% of your viewing is on those apps. In the second tier you have the “vertical” apps like Paramount+, Peacock, and Discovery+. These apps want to be HBO Max but they aren’t. You also have live TV services like Pluto, DIRECTV Stream and Hulu Live Channels that appeal to the true cord cutter. And then, you have… everyone else.

It’s great that there are these other apps that appeal to very specific groups. It’s a way to bring people with similar interests together. But it’s not likely that any of them are going to really break out into one of those upper tiers.

Streaming becomes mature

Instead of collapsing, streaming became much more mature this year. People started to really embrace routine instead of continuing to explore new options. So it’s really the best possible path forward for streaming services.

More importantly, because there wasn’t a huge disruption in the streaming world, it didn’t cause any chaos in the world of traditional pay TV. That’s good for everyone, too.

Stay tuned tomorrow, when I’ll give my predictions for ’22. I took a pretty big swing at the end of last year, and it wasn’t completely off base. Who knows what I’ll come up with this year?


About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.