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Q&A: Why interactive streaming is the future of entertainment (Includes interview)

Streaming services are changing the way we access home entertainment. In the U.S., the average streaming customer has already subscribed to three services and the market is worth in excess of $21 billion. With conventional streaming established, the next development is likely to be the socialization of video streaming, which can add to the ‘Netflix-style experience’ for users and platforms alike. Michael Pazaratz, CEO of Rave, explains how such systems will work in practice and what advantages both content providers and consumers will gain from this new technological wave.

Digital Journal: How has the way we access entertainment changed in recent years?

Michael Pazaratz: Media consumption has shifted from primarily a communal activity to an increasingly solitary one. There are two main factors behind this: instant streaming and ubiquitous screens. While we used to have to watch a television show or see a movie at a specific time, we can now access virtually anything at the touch of a button, meaning no reason to watch at the same time. And with more personal, portable screens than people, the days of crowding around the solitary television set in the house (or neighborhood) are long gone. Simply put, the factors that made watching together a practical necessity are long gone. But what else have we lost in the name of ‘progress’?

DJ: Why has streaming become the popular model?

Pazaratz: The anywhere, anytime model of Netflix and its peers is irresistible. In a few short years, the idea of releasing a single episode a week feels antiquated. We want everything, everywhere, all at once. And there’s no going back.

DJ: What do content providers gain from streaming?

Pazaratz: Streaming has changed the industry. “Because it’s on” is no longer a valid reason to watch mediocre television. It’s either compelling or it’s ignored. Within seconds, users can switch to an alternative program, or a competing service. However, unfettered mass access enables hits to become phenomenons literally overnight. Now more than ever, streaming has turned media into the ultimate “winner takes all” battle royale.

DJ: We’re familiar with streaming, but is what is social streaming?

Pazaratz: Much as we reminisce about the ‘good old days’, there’s no going back. Gathering around the trusty CRT to watch a VHS with your family, or watching MTV with your high school buds may illicit fond memories, but 480p doesn’t cut it anymore. The only way to recapture some of that magic is to recreate it in the modern age, and marry it with the convenience of mobile devices, streaming, and VoIP conversations.

DJ: What advantages can content providers gain from social streaming?

Pazaratz: In a word: engagement. The two ‘stickiest’ app categories far and away are messengers and media players. Combine the best elements of each, and you have superglue. Users are more likely to stick with content they’re only tepidly interested in if they can chat about it (or anything else) with friends. Statistics show they watch for longer and be more likely to return if they can get their entertainment and socializing in the same place. We’re social animals by nature, and don’t do well when isolated. Offering social options for enjoying entertainment should be a no-brainer.

DJ: Will new technologies help social streaming to become more interactive?

Pazaratz: In a few short years, tablets and mobile devices has gone from technically able to stream media, to a primary screen for an increasing number of teens, tweens, and beyond. Speakers are louder, screens are bigger, and it’s the first widespread application of OLED technology, making modern phone screens look markedly better than most televisions. Simply put, handhelds are more than up to the task of providing compelling media experiences. Failing to take advantage of their communications potential is a tremendous missed opportunity. As mobiles continue to improve by leaps and bounds, social streaming becomes inevitable.

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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