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Streaming trends in the new year: 5 things we hope to see in 2022
What can we predict in the way of streaming trends for 2022? We’ve seen two rather tumultuous years in the entertainment industry, as everyone continues to deal with COVID-19 and its effects on virtually every aspect of our lives. Netflix‘s bottom line has hardly been the most pressing pandemic concern, but we have seen major shifts in the streaming landscape as everyone adjusts to the new normal.
So, what can we expect in the new year? Where is the industry going, and what do we want to see? Read on for our top five predictions and wishes for streaming in 2022.
1. Longer streaming windows
Have you ever logged onto your favorite streaming service hoping to watch episodes of a show you’d been getting into just a few days ago only to find the whole series gone?
It’s a normal part of the streaming ecosystem. If a given title isn’t doing well on, say, Netflix, why would they keep licensing it? And if a rights holder decides to move a title from one streamer to another, they’ll usually take the chance to do so.
Sometimes that gets a little tiresome, though. There are films and series that come and go in increasingly short windows. You might see a new title and add it to your watchlist and find it gone before you get to watch it. That process sometimes takes less than a month.
Maybe this is wishful thinking, but as we reach a saturation point with streaming services, perhaps 2022 will see those windows getting a bit longer. That’s a streaming trend for 2022 that we could get behind.
2. Clearer lanes for each streamer
Longer streaming windows may simply become the norm organically, as streamers become more territorial with the titles they own outright.
With more and more media companies investing in their own streaming services, the landscape is shifting. While companies like Warner Bros. or Disney previously relied exclusively on licensing deals with third parties to get their titles streaming, they have their own streaming services now. They haven’t stopped licensing their titles or making them available to rent or own on VOD for that matter, but they are clearly making moves to shore up their libraries.
Something similar is happening at NBCUniversal’s Peacock and ViacomCBS’ Paramount Plus.
With most major players now in the game, can we expect more predictability?
Apple TV Plus has already established itself as a service (pretty much) exclusively dedicated to original programming. Disney’s acquired Fox properties are a little spread out, including on the Disney-owned Hulu, but Disney Plus is home to only Disney titles, including from Marvel, Lucasfilm, and National Geographic.
There are still plenty of streaming sites relying largely on third-party content though, like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and some niche services like Shudder, Mubi, and The Criterion Channel.
We expect to see further consolidation as a streaming trend in 2022, and for streamers to offer a clearer sense of which one does what, precisely.
3. Global expansion/consolidation
If Netflix’s Squid Game taught us anything about streaming in 2021, it’s that entertainment isn’t interested in borders. A good bit of programming can be a global phenomenon.
As a Canadian viewer, I can’t even count the number of times I’ve assumed a new Hulu show would appear on Disney Plus Star here, only to realize it was on another service I don’t subscribe to. In other cases, it can take weeks or even months for titles to make it here at all.
There will always be regional differences based on existing agreements and just plain old varying access from streamer to streamer. Having said that, it’s been nice to see some amount of standardization in the last year or so. To use a Canadian example again, all HBO Max content is available, same day, on Crave. And increasingly, Hulu titles do go straight to Disney Plus Star.
Let’s hope that more of that becomes a streaming trend in 2022. Or at the very least, let’s keep things easy and predictable for subscribers, so we’re not always guessing where our favorite titles might end up.
4. A new relationship between theaters and streamers
It already looks like media conglomeration is changing the way we watch movies.
HBO Max made waves in 2021 by releasing Warner Bros.’ entire theatrical slate, same-day, for subscribers. That means anyone with an ad-free HBO Max subscription could watch movies like Dune, Godzilla vs. Kong, and The Suicide Squad in the comfort of their homes as soon as they premiered in theaters. That was a drastic measure in response to COVID-19 and uncertainty around public gatherings, but it’s not completely isolated.
Where will the chips fall as streamers take up a bigger part of the film market?
Already, the streamer is planning to release 10 titles from the Warner Bros. 2022 theatrical slate in a similar way. That’s in addition to the streamer’s existing HBO Max Originals, which include feature films released exclusively online. This strategy is made possible by the fact that Warner Bros. and HBO Max are both owned by AT&T and can collaborate to maximize overall profits for their parent company. That’s basically a confirmed streaming trend for 2022 in its own right.
See also: Android Authority reviews Dune
We’re seeing that elsewhere too. Since buying Fox, Disney has begun using its own streaming services to move a few films exclusively online. In 2022, that will include the Predator prequel Prey, as well as the Adrian Lynn-directed erotic thriller Deep Water, starring Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas. Both films are set to bow on Hulu.
5. The most important streaming trend for 2022: Good content
Let’s not forget the actual shows and movies we go to streaming services for in the first place!
2021 was a killer year for new shows. Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building was a near-perfect new comedy. Squid Game on Netflix captured the whole world’s attention. Apple TV Plus and Amazon Prime Video dazzled us with epic genre fare in Foundation and The Wheel of Time, respectively. And Disney Plus took the MCU to whole new levels with five new shows featuring familiar heroes.
At the end of the day, what we want most are some great shows and movies.
Here’s to carrying that energy into 2022!
There’s plenty to get excited about. Paramount Plus is launching its Halo series and Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. Amazon Prime has a new Lord of the Rings prequel show. Netflix is adapting Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman. And HBO Max is launching its own crossover hero franchise with Peacemaker, a spinoff of 2021’s The Suicide Squad. You can also look forward to new seasons of Servant (Apple TV Plus), The Umbrella Academy (Netflix), Ozark (Netflix), and plenty more.
First and foremost, we’re looking forward to all of this great stuff to watch in 2022.