There’s no doubt about it. Streaming video will transform the way that Americans…nay, the world…will consume video content. And we won’t have long to wait for the transformation (ahem…revolution) to occur (remember pace & degree?). Even the biggest media companies are getting into the game so that they don’t miss out the audience (and revenue streams) of the future. From just the past couple weeks, several examples:
- Sling TV — Dish hopes to capture the expanding online video audience, whether they’re cord-cutter or cord-nevers; it’ll be a low-priced, slimmed-down bundle of a dozen channels built around ESPN.
- Sony is working on the Playstation Vue, which a wide selection of broadcast and pay-TV networks along with catch-up VOD and cloud-based DVR functionality. This will be a direct competitor to traditional cable or satellite service.
- ESPN will stream the World Cricket Championships independently of its standard cable offerings. Starting Feb. 3, U.S. cricket fans can sign up for a subscription at ESPNcricket2015.com, and then access streams on the Web; ESPN says it will have iOS and Android apps available by Feb. 11. The long tail…
- Nickelodeon will launch a stand-alone streaming service in March. “We believe this innovative service, which will have a distinct brand and will target the fast-growing mobile market, will be very attractive for parents and children,” said Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman.
Why go over-the-top (OTT)? ESPN alone makes hundreds of millions of dollars from carriage fees from cable and satellite companies. Quite simply, these strategic moves are motivated by economics. Media companies want to be where their audience will be, and, increasingly, already IS. More and more, that audience isn’t in front of their TV, located in their living room. They’re on a laptop, or a tablet, or their smartphone. “…[P]eople are moving away from the conventional television monitor as their prime viewing mechanism. According to a study released in March by research firm Millward Brown, Americans now spend more time on average on their smartphones (151 minutes per day) than in front of their TVs (147 minutes). Indeed, Cisco forecasts that by 2019, nearly three-fourths of the world’s mobile data traffic will be video by 2019. Mobile video will increase 13-fold between 2014 and 2019… The untethering of entertainment from the 20th century’s main purveyors is also beginning to change the very nature of the entertainment medium itself, particularly for younger audience. Perhaps the clearest example is in childrens’ and teen programming.
One of things that makes the YouTube experience unique is the way the content creators engage the audience directly… it’s not unlike what children’s TV icon Fred Rogers did for decades on PBS’ Mister Roger’s Neighborhood,… speaking to children directly through the camera, much like vloggers like iJustine or gaming stars such as Stampylonghead. But the open-ended nature of the streaming platforms, unconstrained by time limits, program schedules and regular commercial breaks, is changing the type of content kids are accustomed to viewing.
Separated from the requirements of broadcast, “content” takes on a whole new meaning, as described by Malik Ducard, global head of family and learning for YouTube, at the “Creating Content for Children’s Media: What’s Next?” event. And anyone with a teen can attest to the truth of his observation:
“A lot of these (YouTube) videos are an hour long,” Ducard said. “And there’s not just one. They’re like, ‘Here’s me going through the entire Pokemon game. There’s 26 versions, they’re all an hour long.’ I have twin 8-year-old boys, and if I didn’t stop them, they’d watch every single one. The reality is – it’s not so much (about) storytelling. They connect with playing the videogame.”
The very nature of entertainment is changing: How and where it’s viewed, what is being viewed, how viewers relate to it…significant transformations which will surely impact those content-owning companies which populate these over-the-top services, whether they’re owned by big names like DishTV and Nick or they’re niche-specific like Docurama or WatchFreeFlix.com. Streaming will overtake broadcast. Mobile will dominate traditional. These future developments seem pretty certain. If your OTT strategy doesn’t take into account facets of the market such the multitude of devices being used, responsive design or alternate monetization strategies, you MAY be missing out.