In 2018, the speed of change accelerated at such a rate that the public are now consuming media in an entirely new way to where things were just a year ago. Subscription Video on Demand (SVoD) is no longer a new and exciting way for people to watch, but for the first time, subscription numbers have actually overtaken traditional pay-TV.
765 million people worldwide are watching content on platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime
Statistics source: The Drum
Not only has the method for consuming media changed, but so has the location, with 20% of content viewed on Netflix now being watched on mobile. Although watching television on mobile was not entirely novel to 2018, again it’s the pace at which this trend was adopted by large parts of the population in 2018 that was really impressive.
4K production has become the de facto industry standard, as more and more consumers are demanding 4K content in their own homes. The Worldwide TV Market Report from Futuresource Consulting highlights that over 80 million 4K UHD TV were set to ship by the end of 2018 alone, and High Dynamic Range (HDR) is a feature in 60% of them.
We are already in the midst of early 5G experimentation, and this will not only impact viewer’s ability to watch on mobile; it will advance the way we are able to capture content. The benefits of virtualized production have already been realized by many production houses, and advancements in mobile connectivity have the potential to continue evolving what is possible in the virtual production space in 2019.
The increased adoption of cloud and virtual-production services will not only change the way teams work in the field, but also the way productions are financed. Cloud services typically lower the barrier to entry, with their associated OpEx costs.
More and more productions will benefit from decentralized curation, as content can be created, shared, collaborated on, and published from, anywhere at any time. This will allow for more field-based journalism, and will restore to traditional news providers the ability to produce and quickly deliver content from wherever it’s happening, supporting the integrity of the brand in the age of ‘fake news.’
We may not be looking at 2022 levels of data just yet, but we know that the amount of data set to be produced in 2019 is going to drive even more insights around viewing audiences, consumption, content and production methodologies, all enabled by increasing volumes of people watching video online. And as outlined above, the introduction of 5G in the coming year will enable even greater numbers to watch video content more of the time, in higher quality.
But the key, and maybe obvious, prediction is how this data will fuel more Artificial Intelligence (AI) across the media industry.
2019 will see the increased use of AI at the content-creation end of the supply chain, not only automating more processes and workflows, but also being used in acquisition and pre- to post-production, speeding up delivery time across multiple platforms, and pre-creating content for a desired audience data preference. The huge volumes of metadata generated from new productions and audience behavior can only be leveraged by AI, allowing for even greater content creation based on trends and insights.
Mixed reality in media will continue to be a big area of exploration for content producers, as they look to provide a more unique and personalized experience in order to drive greater interest and engagement from the audience in the face of hefty competition.
With more and more people viewing online, there is a boom in content producers all trying to capture viewers’ attention, from big-scale Netflix productions, right through to YouTubers.
Virtual reality (VR) technology is rapidly becoming more sophisticated and cheaper, enabling far wider adoption (see the graph below). This greater adoption will in turn pave the way for mixed reality to become a viable new entertainment platform. When we look at the introduction of mixed reality in this last year, we can see why the fastest-growing revenue segments are set to be VR and OTT.
As 4K HDR content becomes the benchmark for entertainment in people’s homes, technology that has the capability of capturing ‘big budget’ pieces in an agile and cost-effective way will continue to enter the market in 2019.
With the creation of more affordable production technology, we will also see more non-traditional brands creating content to engage the same audiences that M&E companies typically look to capture. This means the future of content control will sit with those who are best positioned to offer the audiences what they want, as opposed to with the same old commissioning or buying suppliers.
New market players and strengthening partnerships will develop, like the Netflix Post Technology Alliance Program, which Sony is already proud to be part of.
Finally, 2019 will see very specific skill sets required, and becoming invaluable in the media industry. The desire for broadcast engineers who understand IT as well as video over IP, who understand digital distribution and multi-platform audiences, will be highly sought after.
As the industry continues to transition in 2019, associations, bodies and partnerships to not only define standards, but also collaborate on knowledge, will be essential. Individual content and media organizations will be looking for partners to consult, support and, very honestly, go on this journey with them together.
2019 is set to be a transformative year, and will see more new partnerships between media organizations and industry vendors who can offer agile and flexible engagement becoming the norm.