New Media Disruptors: The Future of Content & Streaming

By Charmaine Niewerth // 23 July 2020


On May 28th, Founders Forum hosted the seventh session in our FF Live series, “New Media Disruptors: The Future of Streaming & Content”, in partnership with McKinsey & Co. Panellists included Efe Cakarel, Founder & CEO, MUBI, and Jean David Blanc, Founder & CEO, Molotov TV.

The discussion centred on the competitive streaming landscape in the US vs Europe, expectations for a post-COVID streaming world, and how both challenger brands have worked to create novel ways of consuming content.

Led by Kabir Ahuja, Partner, McKinsey & Company, we would like to offer our thanks to both Efe and Jean David for generously giving their time, alongside the 150+ attendees to the session for their contributions.

The following insights emerged from the discussion:

The content streaming sector was already growing at a fast rate; Covid-19 simply accelerated this trend

  • Whilst the majority of the media ecosystem is seeing flat or negative growth (such as cinema attendance), the underlying dynamics of streaming services were very strong pre-Covid, seeing a continual increase in the number of subscribers year-on-year
  • There are now roughly 400 million global subscribers to some form of export service: research suggests this could double to nearly 800 million subscribers by 2025
  • Covid has simply accelerated these trends as more people are at home with little else to do; MUBI and Molotov both reached their end of year goals for subscriber numbers within four months of 2020
  • Services such as Molotov have also fast tracked the launch of new content – e.g. the ‘Molotov for School’ channel, which was launched in 10 days – as lockdown led to a market gap and increased demand

Streaming engagement is likely drop post-Covid, but level to a higher plateau than previously

  • As lockdown continues to ease and consumers become more comfortable leaving their homes, engagement with streaming services is decreasing
  • However, MUBI expect to see post-Covid engagement levels fall to a higher plateau than pre-Covid; the service saw 3x usual engagement levels during lockdown and don’t expect new subscribers to churn off at the same rate they joined
  • Information and news channels on platforms such as Molotov have been a huge driver in increasing engagement as consumers follow the news about Covid and local regulations: this is sure to decrease post-Covid

There are concerns streaming platforms will hit a content wall if lockdown returns within the next six months

  • The impact of Covid new content production has not yet been seen; what is currently being shown on screens is fresh content that was shot six months ago
  • In six months from now export services may hit a content wall, as films and TV programmes delayed or cancelled due to Covid were meant to be published
  • The wide availability of library content can help soften the blow by trickling older releases alongside new content in the coming months
  • This said, in the absence of cinemas certain studios have shifted to releasing films directly through streaming providers, upending the traditional model of cinema first releases with likely lasting impact

Rights owners are fighting back against streaming services by building a direct relationship with consumers

  • Big rights owners such as Sony and Warner are increasingly looking towards direct to consumer distribution, cutting out the middleman that is streaming services and increasing their own margins in the process
  • This is in part a defence against moves by streaming giants (Amazon, Netflix) to own both production and distribution, cutting traditional studios out of the picture
  • Disney has already proven this concept can be successful, going from 0 to 50 million subscribers almost overnight; however, this can be a risky business model that may not pay off, exemplified by Quibi’s lack of subscriber conversions post their free trial
  • Smaller streaming services are being left out of this battle, forcing them to rapidly figure out their own IP development and production strategy, or differentiation plays, in order to survive in the long run


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