Improvements in data speeds and lower broadband costs led to an infusion of video streaming services in the mid-2000s. Amazon introduced Prime Video in 2006, Hulu launched in 2007 and Netflix offered its internet-based streaming service that same year after having rented DVDs to subscribers since 1999.
Revenues for global subscription VOD services are expected to exceed $71 billion by the end of the year, a 20 percent increase over 2020, according to research. More than $32 billion comes from U .S . subscribers. The total number of VOD subscribers is estimated to exceed 1 billion users in 2021 and predicted to reach 1 .4 billion in four years. Researchers reported global revenue will continue to rise but at a slower pace, up 16 percent next year, 12 percent in 2023, 9 percent in 2024 and 7 percent in 2025.
For DeShuna Elisa Spencer, founder and CEO of Black-owned video streaming service kweliTV, the thriving sector not only represents an opportunity to grow a business but fill a void of representation on television. Frustrated by stereotypes and the lack of inclusion in TV shows and movies, Spencer raised $20,000 and launched the company in 2017 to celebrate Black stories from around the world. The subscription service offers independent films, news, web shows and children’s programming, and nearly all of its movies have been official selections at film festivals.
“I was flicking through a bunch of channels a few years ago and realized I didn’t see anyone that looked like me or anyone in my family,” Spencer told PYMNTS. “I wondered, ‘Where are the Black people? Where are our heroes?’ As a Black person from the U .S ., I felt disconnected from the lives and stories about people who look like me in other parts of the world.”
The word kweli means truth in Swahili, and kweliTV provides subscribers with independent films and documentaries from Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, Australia and Asia to represent a reflection of the global Black experience, she said.
Customers have requested uplifting and inspirational stories since the pandemic began, so the service shifted gears to minimize content that would show Black trauma or suffering, Spencer said.
Providing choices to help avoid churn
The Washington, D .C .-based company has grown to 44,000 subscribers, a 25 percent increase over the past year as the pandemic kept consumers at home and made them seek outlets for entertainment. About 60 percent of kweliTV’s revenue goes to the firm’s content creators each quarter. After a one-week free trial, users can access KweliTV for $5 .99 monthly, $49 .99 annually or have access to any title for 24 hours for $2 .99. Consumers can also watch all of its movie trailers for free.
Like many executives of streaming services, Spencer is worried about losing subscribers as venues and theaters reopen and more consumers venture out of the house. The service is offering a variety of ways for viewers to access their movies and documentaries to retain users and has plans for expansion.
Attracting and maintaining customers’ attentions means evolving the content that is available, Spencer said. As the world reopens, kweliTV plans to add an audio platform that will feature storytelling, self-help, meditation, breathing and yoga podcasts.
“Anyone who is in this industry is a bit worried,” she said. “Netflix is venturing into gaming and podcasting. The name of the game is not just one and done anymore.”
The service accepts credit cards and PayPal, and it is working with a third-party provider to ensure that consumers who want to pay with international currencies have seamless onboarding and payment experiences.
Spencer wants to maintain its recent surge in subscribers. The amount of time Americans spent streaming video content increased by nearly 75 percent last year as the number of subscribers doubled. While 83 percent were pleased with their options, customers are calling the shots. To keep subscribers satisfied, researchers concluded companies must be laser-focused on a customer experience that is fueled by data to allow them to lock in user loyalty.