For many years, YouTube was the dominant digital video platform; 2016 will be remembered as the year that the landscape showed real signs of flattening. For instance, at Jukin Media saw, for the first time, our Facebook views surpass our YouTube views in every month of the year (differences in how each platform counts a view aside).
Beyond those two giants, platforms like Snapchat, Amazon’s Twitch, and Facebook’s Instagram have seen dramatic spikes in their video viewership, resulting in an environment that’s ripe for competition, leaving both consumers and advertisers with more viable options in video than ever before.
If one thing’s for certain about the future of digital video, it’s that 2017 will see some previously observed trends continue, while other entirely new trends reveal themselves. That in mind, below are four predictions for 2017.
- Publishers will continue to double down on video
In 2016 we’ve seen traditional publishers dramatically increase their video output, and that’s more then likely to increase even further in the New Year. Companies like Daily Mail, Tronc, Time Inc., Hearst, and the New York Times have ramped up their video output, and that’s because it’s now abundantly clear that consumers, in many cases, prefer stories told through images, as opposed to prose. As we saw with Facebook Live, Snapchat, and VR in 2016, publishers have shown a willingness to quickly adapt for new platforms and video formats. The paradigm shift that those businesses have successfully undergone, moving away from strictly text-based content, suggests that even more video is on the horizon.
We are in an era where even traditional media brands are not as relevant in the digital world as they once were. New brands and publishers will continue to emerge in the digital video landscape by creating their own distribution on the backs of social platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter, which allow new publishers to build and scale audience faster than ever before. The publishers that will thrive in 2017 will be the ones that find ways to leverage platforms, produce engaging video, and increase output while producing quality content.
2. More Fragmentation
As cord-cutters and cord-nevers continued to opt out of cable subscriptions, 2016 saw the continued rise of OTT platforms, SVOD services, mobile video apps, and individual channel apps.
Because subscribing to multiple services for content forces users to manage multiple logins and open several different apps to find desired content, the end result of all these services is a less than ideal experience for the consumer (if still better than subscribing to an overpriced cable bundle).
Today, there’s a lot of highly sought-after content out there. Cable networks make great shows. Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, and HBO all make award-winning originals. Consequently, in a world where great content is ubiquitous, user experience will often be the determining factor for the consumer. As Turner CEO John Martin has pointed out, user experience is now as important as content and distribution in formulating a successful video strategy. In the end, consumers do not care where they watch and what screen they watch it on, all they care about is good content, and seamless user experience. Until real innovation in user-experience gets to market — likely in 2018 — fragmentation will continue, and audiences will continue to splinter.
3. Content Lines Will Continue to Blur
The lines between professional and amateur, between ‘web video’ and ‘TV,’ will continue to blur.
Video services like go90 and Watchable pair content that was traditionally served through linear TV, like live sports, alongside video content that’s traditionally thought of as ‘web video’ like Buzzfeed or FailArmy; Sinclair’s new broadcast TV channel TBD will show content that’s traditionally seen on the web, but will be delivering it on over-the-air TV; services like Xumo have created a traditional TV experience out of ‘web video’ by creating dedicated channels on smart TVs that house ‘digital’ brands.
Considering the confluence at play, consumers, especially ‘cord-nevers,’ no longer look at content in boxes. It’s all video. It’s all entertainment. When similar content is available on smart TVs, mobile phones, and desktop computers, what’s the purpose of distinguishing between traditional and digital? In 2017 and beyond, worlds will continue to blend, and consumers will simply watch videos/ shows that they like, with no regard for whether it started as a TV channel or a YouTube channel. If you’re a “cord-never,” would you even know the difference?
4. User-Generated Content Will Explode
I may be biased here, but many continue to overlook UGC, which is always among the most popular and most viewed types of video content online. There is no doubt that user-generated content will increase in 2017 from both a viewership, and a content creation perspective.
As was true in years passed, video-capture devices will continue to proliferate. Drones with affixed cameras, and dash-cams will continue to gain popularity, but the biggest source of growth will come as developing nations gain access to affordable devices and broadband Internet. As places like India are brought online, they’ll begin to capture and share footage, just like the rest of the connected world.
Further, video-capture technology has become increasingly more advanced, putting HD and 4k capabilities in the palm of any content creator’s hand, and, in effect, further muddying the waters between so called ‘premium’ content and UGC.
To paraphrase a statement Reddit Cofounder Alexis Ohanian made at a recent event in LA, cat videos are how people today get their entertainment.
UGC is not some phase that’s going pass. People have many different options for entertainment, and tons of them choose to spend their time watching short UGC clips online in favor of, or in addition to, longer-form content. With better tech, those behaviors stand only to continue into 2017 and beyond.
Jonathan Skogmo is Founder and CEO of Jukin Media. He is executive producer of “World’s Funniest” on FOX, “Now That’s Funny!” on Channel 5 (UK), and the international TV series “Fail Army,” which airs in more than 221 territories worldwide. Prior to Jukin, Skogmo produced shows on MTV, CMT, Discovery, and truTV. As Founder and CEO of Jukin Media, Skogmo oversees all day-to-day operations of the company, including licensing, syndication, acquisitions, programming and production. Jukin Media has more than 120 employees, with operations in Los Angeles, New York and London.
Jonathan is a member of the Producers Guild of America and the Young Presidents’ Organization, he’s on the Board of Directors of AMCUP, and he holds a degree in Film and Television from Columbia College. He resides in Los Angeles.