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The Streaming Wars: Are Consumers a Casualty?

It started innocently enough. I planned to ring in the New Year much as I had spent it, sprawled
out on my couch, channeling a kinder, gentler time through ‘90s cinema. What could scratch
the itch better than The Pelican Brief? Chases! Legalese! Julia Roberts’ really, really big hair!
I had recently seen it pop up on one of the litany of streaming services I subscribe to, so with
freshly popped popcorn in hand, I set out to watch. Now … where was it again? I thought I had
seen it on Hulu, but nope, it’s not there. What about HBOMax? Not there either. Netflix? Also a
wash. I came to realize that, though I had seen it somewhere in the weeks leading up to this
moment – poof! – it had disappeared.

As a brand strategist, I found myself simultaneously delighted and in dismay – yes, the movie of
my choice was out of reach, but I had managed to stumble upon a true consumer pain point
within the streaming space.

This got me thinking about the challenges at work for both brands and consumers as the
streaming landscape continues to grow. With several high profile platform debuts in the past
year, the space has become crowded and therefore more difficult for consumers to navigate.
So, given this current challenge and with an eye to the category’s future, I began to wonder
what a streaming brand needs to do to break through and garner consumer confidence.
At Egg, we’re fascinated with questions like this and often collaborate with brands to explore
category growth, challenges and opportunities through both a business lens and from the
consumer perspective.

For streamers, there’s clearly a balancing act between the limitations of content availability and
consumer expectation. Untangling the rights and licensing of back catalog content presents a
unique business challenge to these brands, and until they have a their own stable of newly-
produced, branded content, legacy titles (like The Pelican Brief) are central to the consumer
experience.

So, how can streaming brands live into their promise of seemingly “endless” content, while
knowing that catalogs will always be shifting? The solution may come down to a clearly
articulated brand positioning that speaks both to the unique power of streaming – Consumer
agency! So many options! – but more effectively sets consumer expectation around what to
anticipate from the experience.
If you find yourself pondering a similar brand dilemma, feel free to give us a ring. Oh, and for
those wondering, I did end up plopping down a few bucks to rent The Pelican Brief on Apple.
Yes, Denzel Washington as a hot shot DC reporter really did the trick, but I couldn’t help but
feel a little cheated.