Nothing moves slowly in the wide, wild world of online video. As we embark on a new year, filled with ever more changes, here are a few of my predictions for the online video industry in 2014.
Netflix will go on a diet
As it continues to experiment with new ways to drive more buzz and viewer engagement, Netflix will start curbing its appetite for binging. Look for the company to roll out scheduled content that looks surprisingly similar to the linear programming it bid goodbye to in April. This will be more akin to Amazon’s combination of binge-able and regular programming than Netflix’s current model, pioneered by House of Cards, which lets viewers watch an entire season’s worth of episodes the day the season starts, if they want. The trial move will be driven by a few factors: a) Netflix will purchase content from a licensor that requires its programming be aired on a schedule, and b) providers of all stripes, including Netflix, will be seeking a cure for over binging.
While binging has its pros, it also has its cons: When viewers tune in for a marathon session of Orange is the New Black, or similar content, providers lose valuable data around more nuanced viewing habits — even Netflix can’t pass on that opportunity. And, the buzz around a binge schedule dies too quickly, leaving a hole to be filled. As all content providers know, you’re only as good as your last program.
Cord ‘nevers’ will feel the love
We’ve heard a lot about “cord cutters,” or people who have dropped cable subscriptions in favor of viewing all their TV content online. But what about people who never had cable TV in the first place? Call them “cord nevers.” The growing group of untethered, online-only viewers will gain recognition in the New Year as providers begin offering more targeted, personalized “micro-bundles.”
Content providers will cozy up to this technically savvy market segment that can’t or won’t shell out the funds for current pay TV models, and offer them more tailored on demand and linear programming in digital-only form.
While this new programming approach is a small victory for unbundling advocates, don’t expect the U.S. to offer a totally “a la carte” approach, like Canada’s, anytime soon.
Nielsen won’t measure up
2014 marks the end of Nielsen’s grace period for acclimating to online measurement. Advertisers and content providers are weary of waiting for digital measurements that provide solid data around viewer preferences, behavior, device, location and other metrics. Competitors such as ComScore and others will jump to fill the growing gap for digital performance metrics and establish themselves as viable Nielsen alternatives.
Viewers will be loving it live
Droves of viewers tuning into 2014’s epic sporting triumvirate — Super Bowl XLVIII, the Winter Olympics and the World Cup — will shatter all records for live streaming. That will be no small feat: Super Bowl XLVI had more than 2 million viewers log in, and live streaming of Super Bowl XLVII reached more than 3 million unique viewers, an increase of more than 43 percent.
In Latin America, where smartphone adoption is close to 50% of all new mobile phones, the country will continue amping up its 3G and 4G infrastructure, allowing millions of additional fans to stream the World Cup, and scream GOOOOOAAAAAALLL!! from virtually anywhere nationwide.
And Univision will make five
The big four networks will become the big five in 2014 as Univision’s following continues to expand both online and offline. The Spanish-language American network has more than nine million viewers daily, and it routinely rates ahead of or alongside CBS, FOX, ABC, and NBC.
By and large, Univision’s audience is comprised of early adopters who watch more programming online than other viewers , giving Univision a much more nuanced understanding of its viewers’ habits. Univision will fuel even more growth throughout the next year by leveraging those online measures to create digital-only programming tailored to its viewers’ preferences.
What are some of your predictions for online video in 2014?
A co-founder of digital video company Ooyala, Belsasar Lepe now oversees the company’s Solutions Consulting group. Bel and his team manage large-scale deployments of the Ooyala platform around the world, helping customers to optimize their businesses across mobile devices, browsers and IPTV. Before founding Ooyala, Bel was a Google systems engineer.