Is UX design the final frontier of the streaming wars?

In the ever-expanding world of streaming, content is undoubtedly king. But is the battle for eyeballs leading streaming giants to neglect their users in the process? CR investigates

It’s hard to imagine life without streaming nowadays. For many of us, our streaming habits have become woven into the fabric of daily life, whether that’s binge-watching series-upon-series on Netflix, relying on Apple Music to get you through your commute, or regularly going down the rabbit hole of weird videos on YouTube.

Over the last decade, the rise of major music and TV streaming platforms in particular has been meteoric. When Spotify was founded in 2006, the Swedish startup was largely responding to the growing piracy problem facing the music industry. Today, streaming accounts for 75% of how we listen to music. Around the same time as the birth of Spotify, Netflix was just beginning its transition from a DVD rental business to a subscription-based streaming service. By the end of last year, it boasted 204 million subscribers.

With the global revenue of video-on-demand services estimated to be roughly £40 billion, it’s unsurprising that a number of existing entertainment giants have been eager to enter the fray, most recently the long-awaited Disney+ and HBO Max platforms. Given that almost a quarter of homes in the UK already subscribe to two or more services, however, we’ve clearly reached the point where there are more streaming services than people are willing to pay for.

Apple Music’s UX on iPad

In the past, the key differentiator between the major streaming players has been the quality and quantity of content on offer. While binge-worthy original series and a huge library of classic film and TV might attract users in the first place, could the secret to keeping hold of subscribers in the long-term be how easy a platform is to use?