Guest Post by Dror Ginzberg, CEO and Co-Founder, Wochit
If video killed the radio star, what’s next in the crosshairs? Only the very fabric of the king of all media, television.
Online moving pictures have come a long way since the days of grainy, buffering dial-up video. In 2017, online video viewing was reckoned by Zenith to increase by 20%, with consumers spending on average a whopping 47.4 minutes a day watching online video.
That trend is being driven by on-the-go mobile consumption but also by a roster of content that is beginning to slide all the way up the spectrum to premium-quality content that is only available online.
Not only this, in the investment world VCs are also increasingly looking to get in on the action, as, for example, during a three month period in 2017, over £110 million was invested in companies specialising in various aspects of video content. In my own experience, VCs are always on the lookout for markets that will undergo deep, long-lasting disruption and video is certainly one of those sectors and we’ll see more investment money flow into it in the coming years.
So, outside of these overarching trends, what does 2018 hold for online video?
Overall, I think the coming year is when the young pretender takes over the throne with five key trends emerging from this ascent to the top.
1 – Streaming services become more traditional
Last year saw online streaming services taking original content to a new level – 2018 is expected to see a drastic jump in spend toward original content. Case and point: Netflix alone is aiming to spend nearly $8 billion in 2018 alone, up dramatically from the $2 billion it spent in 2017.
However, what we’re now starting to see – and what we’ll see more of this year – is the return to traditional models. Platforms like Netflix are increasingly beginning to pilot their own shows, posting content from week to week rather in bulk. I think this return to tradition will become the norm, rather than the exception in 2018. Despite online video being a digital medium, traditional TV models lend themselves to keeping audiences coming back for more.
As Facebook Watch and other social-based video platforms move into this space throughout 2018, we can expect a number of things to happen. Firstly, competition among platforms like YouTube, will increase. People already spend more time on Facebook than YouTube (7.8% vs. 5%, respectively, according to Verto Analytics), and Watch is yet another reason for people to stay logged-in to the network.
Once Facebook has sufficient buy-in from its users, I believe we’ll start to see them make a move toward creating their own original content and ownership of events in sports or music. At that point, we’re looking at social media platforms, who offer video content, competing with established streaming players like Netflix or Hulu.
2 – Premier League partnerships with online broadcasters will finally begin
This year is a pivotal and potentially game-changing year for sports rights in the UK. English Premier League rights are up for grabs once more and we will finally see an online platform, such as Facebook or Amazon, bid for rights. They are likely to win a portion of these rights to show some games.
With current TV viewership numbers falling for the league, it makes total sense to finally go all-in and sign a deal with an online platform to make sure it can recapture some of this lost audience.
This shift has been bubbling up over the last year, after Amazon won the bid to live stream NFL games and also outbid Sky to secure ATP World Tour tennis rights. These deals were relatively small – what comes next could be an ace for fans.
3 – Perpetual change becomes the norm for video
Video currently makes up 69% of all online traffic, according to Cisco, and this will only keep growing in coming years.
Due to its relative youth however, we’ll keep seeing the format evolve at a rapid pace, to keep up with consumers’ changing attitudes and behaviours. For example, in 2017 alone, we saw technology companies turn against the ubiquitous use of autoplay video.
Yet over 60% of digital publishers currently rely on autoplay capabilities for their video content, according to MediaRadar. To overcome these ever changing challenges, content creators will need to be open and flexible when it comes to video. Rather than looking at the glass as half-empty, these challenges are an opportunity to revamp content strategies to keep up with their audiences, who will expect creators to keep pace with the times.
Getting creative with content and making sure viewers have a reason to hit the play button will be more critical than ever to engage audiences and get them sharing content across their social platforms. Whatever the purpose of a piece of video content, in 2018 it needs to really resonate with audiences to ensure this content is seen, liked and shared.
4 – Fragmentation of streaming continues
As I mentioned, I believe that the end of the TV subscription is in sight, and this year will show this.
As more people opt for personalised streaming experiences rather than traditional TV programming, more players are emerging within the space, including the likes of Apple, Amazon and now Facebook. More and more competitors will keep springing up and consumers will have more choice than ever before.
However, this wide variety of choice will lead to a completely fragmented experience, as some platforms will have exclusivity over content, meaning no one streaming service will be able to cater to every consumer’s needs. Instead, we’ll likely see a rise in niche streaming platforms to cater to increasingly diverse audiences.
5 – Short form video will see huge growth, especially in sport
In 2017 we saw that audiences are increasingly viewing short, snappy, snackable video content. However, next year will see this trend really accelerate especially for ‘near-live’ sports highlights, whereby fans can watch online video of sports action, immediately after it happens. This type of short-form content will become the new norm by which sports fans will not only watch sports, but also engage online.
2018 will be the year that online streaming finally comes of age and became the new norm for consumers. This year’s shift in consumer behaviour will have a profound effect on content consumption for years and years to come. Investors and VCs won’t be slow to notice this, and expect them to continue to provide substantial investments in the industry, which will in turn drive innovation even faster, all for the benefit of the consumer.