The state of video: expansion, not exodus

By Allen Bush on Dec 09 2014 at 12:30 AM
“We have passed from an era where it was necessary to build a purpose- specific pathway to deliver video. The innovation of Internet Protocol 
has freed video from these closed pathways and single-purpose devices.”
 
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s words, from an October blog post rallying support for new rules that would ease market entry for Internet-based video service providers, may seem obvious to those of us who live and breathe OTT. We see on a daily basis the migration of the traditional TV audience from the living room to the outdoors, from the TV to the tablet and smartphone.
 
It’s not a wholesale exodus, as some Silicon Valley TV-doomsday-theorists suggest. It’s an expansion of our TV experience across a broader landscape of devices. It’s about the right device for the right time of day, ideally suited to our immediate surroundings and circumstance. In fact, studies show that the total amount of time spent consuming media in the United States is growing, 
among both younger and older viewers and across all ethnic groups. 
 
That growth stems from a 16% jump in video viewing on mobile devices, PCs and connected TVs, according to the latest Nielsen Cross-Platform Report. The surging demand for premium video experiences that cater to our personal preferences (and budgets) is at the heart of Wheeler’s rallying cry. 
 
It may seem a long time coming to the media and technology companies who’ve spent the better part of the last decade paving the way for the next generation of TV. But it’s a heartening sign that the call is now being made by those with the influence and authority to help remove the fences that divide the future from the past.
 
Another critical sign of the times is that the Internet-driven evolution of TV and video is now embraced, rather than spurned, by the TV establishment. HBO, CBS and others are touting new IP-delivered offerings. Charter Communications CEO Tom Rutledge says the number of programmers planning OTT deployments is good for the cable industry, which will have more flexibility in content bundling; and good for the consumer, who will have more choice. 
 
And discussing heightened competitionfor audiences and ad dollars in VARIETY, Josh Sapan, president-CEO of AMC Networks, referred to “an almost unstoppable trend for technology to facilitate consumer discretion and choice.”
 
Technology and choice are the common threads underlying the evolutionary thinking that’s precipitating a new crop of web-delivered services, and keeping OTT at the top of every major player’s to-do list. Not only are the largest broadcasters in the world taking to the Internet for audience engagement, companies like Amazon and Netflix are investing hundreds of millions in made-for-Internet programming.
 
Today’s spirited attitude towards the video evolution is a far cry from the tone of the industry in years past. That more conservative stance was well summed up in 2010 by CBS Chief Les Moonves, who said of web-based distribution at the time, “It’s nice to have our toe in the water. I’m glad we didn’t dive in head first... If too many people shift to online, I’m not going to be able to produce CSI.”
 
This quarter, our Q3 2014 Global Video Index examines the current state of this evolution: the trends developing as we consume our news, sports and entertainment across many different screens across the hours and days. We take a look at the ongoing takeover of mobile and tablet video, and the impact of major news and sporting events on over-the-top consumption.
 
The industry’s collective vision for the future of television
is still coming into focus. But our data demonstrates significant progress toward that future. The complexity inherent in providing the choice consumers desire is still growing. But every quarter, viewers around the world move closer to a simpler, more personalized experience. One with more freedom, more choice, and more satisfaction.
 
In Tom Wheeler’s words, “Such benefits follow from innovation.”
 

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