Stop if you’ve heard this before—a new Silicon Valley tech titan has announced plans to go Hollywood and join the fierce streaming war. Yet this time, it’s a name you might not expect: Airbnb. According to an exclusive Reuters report, the home-sharing platform has lofty ambitions to develop a studio and create original programming that will include both shows and films. But why?
Perhaps a better question at this point is, why not? Already privately valued at $31 billion and gearing up for an IPO next year, Airbnb would join the ranks of Apple, Disney, and the reigning inhabitants of this space: Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. The news is representative of the company’s mission to become “travel-everything,” which in the case of streaming would mean creating series and documentaries about travel, as well as shows featuring Airbnb homes, guests, and hosts.
While still very much in the R&D phase, the company has already flexed its streaming muscles a bit by way of Apple. Set to premiere on Apple’s upcoming streaming service, “Home,” Airbnb is hard at work on a docuseries featuring next-generation homes around the world and the people instrumental in their development. Along with this strategic play, the company also recently announced that it developed and produced the documentary “Gay Chorus Deep South,” which is set to debut at the Tribeca Film Festival.
James Goode, head of creative at Airbnb, notes that the company “is rooted in the power of people to people connections.” This is a refreshing nod to interpersonal community in our digital-first world. Airbnb’s latest streaming venture further cements this notion while broadening their base. And while this space is supremely saturated, Airbnb’s mission to join the streaming war could be especially powerful given the proven appetite for shows like the late Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown.”
Equally important to Airbnb’s content development will be their execution and actual delivery of content. According to the report, the company is already considering streaming its films and shows through both its app and other video platforms in an effort to spur travel among users. This omnichannel approach is a tried and true one but Airbnb is poised to push the content in ways that transcend video, noting that it could be “audible” or even “physical,” according to Reuters.
The media streaming business is still in its infancy but rapidly growing. Major players like Airbnb are clearly looking to invade the space with a new take on what content development means in the 21st century. And with statistics circulating like AdWeek’s report on the number of exclusive streaming homes tripling in the last five years, the competition will only get more fierce.
With Airbnb’s latest announcement, the streaming war is intensifying and spanning brands not typically synonymous with original content programming. But alas, brands like Expedia and Travelocity should be taking note—Airbnb is pushing the envelope on what’s possible from a travel experience perspective.
Before we know it, Airbnb could consistently find itself on lists like this one, detailing the top streaming services and how they are redefining the future of content development. Time will only tell, but one wouldn’t be condemned for betting on Airbnb to become the destination for travel content in the future based on this latest bold move.
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