We are living in the video era – the staggering statistics on video growth make that abundantly clear. According to Cisco’s Visual Networking Index: Forecast and Methodology 2016–2021, video will make up 82 percent of all consumer internet traffic by 2021, an increase from 73 percent in 2016. To put this in perspective, “it would take an individual more than five million years to watch the amount of video that will be crossing global IP networks each month in 2021.”
While viral cat videos and homemade YouTube tutorials will always be part of the mix, more and more of this mountain of video will consist of highly produced content created by the global media and entertainment industry. The explosive growth of Streaming Video on Demand (SVOD) services like Netflix, Amazon Video, and Hulu suggest as much.
This video era has also given rise to the “golden age of television,” thanks to the proliferation of high-quality scripted dramas available to the video consumer. Linear television is no longer the only place (or even the main place) where people watch this content, but the major broadcast and cable networks remain key drivers in its creation and distribution.
In 1996, Bill Gates famously wrote, “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.” The changes in the media industry over the past ten years have been truly transformational, but it’s easy to lose sight of this fact when immersed in the industry day to day. It’s eye-opening to take a look in the rearview mirror and review just how far the business has come in the past decade.
Ten years ago, original scripted shows were consumed primarily via traditional television (broadcast, cable, and satellite). This content reappeared in secondary distribution channels such as hotels, planes and packaged media (DVD’s) in the home. But many of today’s popular video platforms were in their infancy (or didn’t even exist). Hulu launched in 2007, while Netflix, still in its “red envelope” DVD rental phase, added a streaming option for a limited selection of titles. Google bought one-year-old YouTube in 2006. At that time, YouTube was already delivering an average of 100 million video views per day. But most of this content was user-generated or pirated. M&E content providers who uploaded videos to YouTube were simply trying to drive consumers to the primary distribution channels.
While Apple launched the first iPhone in 2007, the first commercial phones running Google’s Android did not appear until the following year. And mobile video as a taken-for-granted part of daily life was still years away. As for Amazon Prime? In 2007, it was still just a customer program for receiving free shipping of physical goods. Social media was no different. Even though Facebook launched in 2004, it wasn’t available to the masses until 2006—the same year Twitter was born. And Instagram and Snapchat were only twinkles in the eyes of their founders.
Fast forward to today, and we see a very different media landscape.
We now live in a world where far more video is being created than ever before, and for many different types of devices. As a result, Over the Top (OTT) content providers like Netflix and Amazon have grown considerably. TV-connected devices (which allow people to watch streaming video), mobile video, and video on social media have also exploded.
Some numbers from recent studies illustrate these trends:
This new media landscape for distributing video has created huge challenges—as well as opportunities—for the media and entertainment industry.
Ten years ago, the big technological transformations affecting the television supply chain were primarily the move to end-to-end file-based workflows and the migration to HD. Today both transitions are largely complete—from acquisition all the way through distribution.
But new changes keep coming, including the move to even larger sized file formats. HD is in the process of being supplanted by 4K video, with 8K not far behind. NHK in Japan recently announced plans to launch the world’s first 8K channel next year. And a whole array of completely new video categories—360-degree video, VR, AR, MR, HDR, WCG—is entering the mainstream media industry.
Supporting new distribution platforms and adapting to new video formats are only part of the technological transformation story within M&E. For example, content producers and aggregators are increasingly looking to IP technology for data transport within their facilities. More broadly, the evolution of the cloud has had a massive impact on how media companies of all types operate today. Big data analytics and AI provide deeper insights into customers’ viewing habits. And data security has become an important aspect of almost all technology decisions.
All these technological changes, combined with the ever more globalized content supply chains, have radically altered how media companies approach content creation and distribution—specifically the infrastructure and processes needed to support them.
What will the landscape look like a decade from now? We can follow the trends and make predictions, but only time will tell.
This is the first article in our three-part “need for speed” series. Be sure to check out the other two or download the full series PDF version: