Streaming Media

 

Streaming Media Predictions: What's in Store for 2013
To find out what's in, what's out, and what's new for the year ahead, we surveyed 11 industry leaders. Here's what they told us.
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2012 was generally an excellent year for the streaming media sector, as the industry continued to enjoy impressive growth across various markets.

So what does 2013 hold? To find out — or at least to get the “best guesses” from people in the know — Streaming Media approached leaders in content creation/production, distribution, and streaming media technology. We asked them to forecast, in a question-and-answer format, which streaming media trends would be big, which factors would be influencing the industry’s growth, and what trends were on their way out. Here’s what they told us.

What do you think the big trends of 2013 will be in streaming media, and why?

Dick Glover, president and CEO, Funny or Die, Inc.: Aggregation and editorialization of streaming media, especially when combined with analytics. The problem continues to be getting mindshare so people know how and where to consume the content they are interested in and the content they will enjoy when discovered. The folks who can be trusted to aggregate what the user wants and then editorialize to present what the user will also consume will win.

Ran Harnevo, SVP of the AOL On Network: There are three main online video industry trends I anticipate seeing in 2013. They include:

1. More investment in premium, original content: We’re seeing big players like YouTube and Hulu (and of course AOL) investing in this more and more. In fact, YouTube recently announced that it is taking its original programming initiative to the next level, extending it into Europe, with at least 60 new video channels.

We’ve just launched HuffPost Live, and made a big bet behind it. As this trend continues into 2013, we’ll begin to see TV advertisers take us more seriously and invest more, which is what the industry has been waiting for, for a while.

2. The rise of connected TV: In the coming year, we can expect to see connected TV really take off and become a threat to mainstream TV with a surge in consumer adoption and premium Web publishers’ integration of these devices.

There will be a lot of high quality, premium content available on various devices including Xbox, Hulu, Roku, Samsung, and others. Consumers will follow, with everyone waiting for Apple to make that last move (launching the iTV, of course).

3. More distinct levels of video inventory: As inventory scales and the industry matures, we are going to start seeing more distinct levels of inventory divided into buckets based on the quality of the content and the audience.

At the top of the pyramid, we’ll see premium publisher content where most advertisers will try to place their dollars first. And then on the reserve side, we’ll see more and more programmatic content.

Alex Wellen, VP of Video Products and Business, CNN: Personalization and portability lie at the heart of future video products and business models. Better metadata, better algorithms, and better curation will inevitably help streaming video users find the content they are looking for. Right now, most video is served up with blunt force based on a heading, short description, a few tags, and potentially a collaborative filter. Imagine the precision you can get when you weave in video completion rates and transcripts, for example. For news, there will also be a blurring of live streaming and video-on-demand.

Ciaran Quinn, Director of Olympics & Strategic Business, deltatre: From our experience working with sports rights holders in 89 territories for the largest streamed sporting event in the history of the world [the Olympics], I see the major upwards trend being mobile, mobile, mobile. This is not to say that other areas will trend down, but that mobile will continue its rapid rise that we saw start with our work on the 2011 Rugby World Cup where mobile consumption was far greater than desktop consumption on a per-user basis.

Sports rights holders will have the challenge of being pan-platform and distributing content to consumers across many devices.

I also see more and more rights holders stream content pan-platform to fill what I refer to as the “Broadcast Hole.” Certain sports rights are simply not available live on TV in certain territories. But that doesn’t mean that the content is not of interest to some fans who live in those territories. Filling the Broadcast Hole gives fans a legitimate way of consuming content that otherwise might be pirated in a territory. Fans win. Rights owners win. Pirates lose.

Patty Perkins, internal communications solutions team leader, Wells Fargo: I think that user demand for mobile video in the enterprise is starting to be heard and significant gains will be made in 2013 as corporate infrastructure and security start to find ways to make it happen.

Doug Howard, CEO, VBrick Systems: 2013 is the year large organizations will accelerate their adoption of a pan-enterprise visual communications strategy — of which streaming media is a key component. The tactical requirements for a CEO video broadcast, or recording new hire training, will continue to be supplanted by an enterprise-wide plan to create, manage, distribute and display streaming media. The volume of content and the growing number of creators has reached the tipping point where point solutions are reaching their limits.

Part of the strategy for 2013 will include adopting Hybrid Video Platforms (HVPs). HVPs offer customers the ability to combine their OVP (online video platform) with their PVP (premises video platform) into one solution that offers transparent access, management, and distribution of streaming media — inside or outside the firewall.

We think 2013 is going to be the breakout year of HTTP-based delivery of streaming video. HLS, HDS, and Smooth Streaming are all great solutions, but MPEG-DASH will finally make it easy to create one HTTP adaptive format and play it everywhere. MPEG DASH fixes the device/player interop issue, and makes it far easier to leverage caching engine infrastructure for streaming media delivery. In 2013, the Daily Double feels like MPEG-DASH and HTML5. With Firefox inching its way towards H.264, the last big obstacle seems to be falling by the wayside.

The H.265 hype cycle has to start somewhere, so why not 2013? It will take a number of years to create interoperable H.265 solutions, but that won’t stop someone from claiming market domination and “inevitable” market leader status.

Kelly Day, CEO, Blip Networks, Inc.: The 2013 theme for original web series will be “go big or go home.” Big media companies will get more serious about original web video. Big YT (YouTube) networks will diversify their audiences off YT and new distribution platforms will emerge. A bunch of YT channels will be canceled as hit shows find their audiences, and the ones that don’t will go home.

Eduardo Henrique, head of U.S. operations, Movile: Video streaming on smartphones and tablets. Beside this, content production is changing a lot and in 2013 you will see a lot of Silicon Valley money funding content production. Google, Netflix and others will invest more in content production.

I think the value chain, the business model and the logistics to distribute content need to change in 2013. Everything needs to be more on demand and users will pay only for what makes sense to them. There may be some good news in this area in 2013.

James Cridland, managing director, Media UK: One of them will be the use of hybrid. With broadcast media, whether it’s TV or radio, we have a tremendous opportunity to use broadcasting to still deliver mass-market entertainment and use IP to enhance that experience. The YouView set-top box in the U.K. is a good example of a device that makes the link between broadcast and IP almost invisible to the user: just as it should be.

Another trend will be personalized advertising. In-stream ad replacement, of the type pioneered by [companies] like Triton Digital, offers incredible benefits to ensure that advertising is seen as less annoying and more relevant to each consumer. As we become increasingly intolerant of badly targeted advertising, this is important to ensure that advertising-funded media has a bright future.

Finally, particularly in consumer products, the user interface will increasingly be the most important thing: not the feature set. Consumers are increasingly being ‘spoilt’ by the relative simplicity of iOS and Android; set-top boxes and streaming devices need to recognize this.

Fred Jacobs, president, Jacobs Media: 2013 will be the year that radio broadcasters start taking streaming seriously. Up to this point, the stream has been a “second class” citizen. Few programmers even monitor it for quality and consistency. Pandora has changed all that, and moving forward, the stream will become as important as the AM/FM signal.

Paul Riismandel, director of curricular support, Northwestern University’s School of Communication: Media management will be one big trend. Organizations of all types — enterprise, education and entertainment — have been amassing online video for at least a decade. But the methods for managing that archive have been all over the map. Most big consumer-facing providers started tackling the problem half a decade ago, while enterprise and education verticals are coming to realize they have big needs. These customers will require solutions that allow them not only to index, catalog and search their archives, but to manage versions, rights and mobile.

User-generated video will continue to be a big trend, but not in the sense of a YouTube or Vimeo. Enterprise and Education organizations need ways to accept, ingest, index and moderate content that comes from inside their organizations. This has often been called a campus or enterprise YouTube. But these organizations need to manage the lifespan, rights and other aspects much more closely than simple upload repository requires.

Following in that same vein, making user-generated video mobile will be very important. Users, customers, students and employees are moving to mobile devices, especially tablets, faster than their employers and schools can react. Video platforms need to keep pace with the video-making abilities of these devices.

What factors do you think will be shaping the market in 2013?

Ran Harnevo, AOL On: The main factors that will shape the streaming video industry in 2013 will be audience measurement, quality of content, and scale. We are starting to see more and more advertisers making smarter buying decisions by looking closely at comScore, Nielsen, and other measurement and analytic platforms, which dictate pricing and audience acquisition. 

On the other hand, with the surge of inventory out there, quality of content will be a huge factor for advertisers, as they want to ensure their ads are running alongside premium, high quality content.

And lastly, as advertisers look for single-buy opportunities without having to invest across all platforms, the drive for scalable audiences will become increasingly important. With this in mind, I wouldn’t be surprised to see consolidation in the ad networks’ market in order to meet that scale.

Kelly Day, Blip: Multiplatform programs will be buyable AND measurable. Advertisers will rely less on their TV spots and more on native web video ads. 

Pricing will get stronger and new pricing models will take hold. Branded content will become more prevalent and the quality of the storytelling will improve.

Doug Howard, VBrick: Several OS launches will shape the market in 2013. This will be the year that Android 4.0 and 4.1 penetration exceeds 50 percent, giving millions of new users the capability to reliably receive streaming media via HLS. Win XP will finally leave the desktop, replaced by operating systems and players that natively include H.264 support. With the launch of a video-friendly Win 8, most PCs and all Macs will be H.264 compliant in 2013. 

iPhone graduates are in the workforce. The young recruits in the office had a smartphone in college and as far as they are concerned streaming media has always been available right in the palm of their hand. These graduates expect to use streaming media at work. Smart TV price points are dropping, making it easier to eliminate the set top box in 2013.

Eduardo Henrique, Movile: Of course Apple, Google, and Facebook will have an important position as distribution platforms. For smartphones, I believe that mobile carriers are working to show some power against these guys, but it’s difficult to see something really disruptive from them. 

Netflix on smart TVs, consoles and even on tablets is doing a great job, but I think they didn’t innovate enough on smartphones and they may lose the market on mobile. They will also have an immense challenge in changing the licensing business model to offer premium content to their users, and I believe that we will see more growth in segmented products focused in specific markets. Movile, for example, is focused in the Latino market exclusively on smartphones and Facebook, where users are not well served by these players.

Fred Jacobs, Jacobs Media: Pandora’s rise, coupled with the growth of the smartphone, has altered the way that broadcasters view their streams. Now more and more automakers are offering “digital dashboards,” exponentially increasing audio entertainment options. This will continue to force programmers and managers to focus on ensuring their streaming experience is first class.

The other factor will be measurement. It is essential that Arbitron or other metrics providers offer data that broadcasters can convert into revenue.

Alex Wellen, CNN: For long-form content — live and video-on-demand — a key factor will be improved and standardized measurement across the industry. When in place, it could potentially have a profound impact on traditional ad models. In some cases, it will simply make more sense to seek viewership or ratings online versus new digital ad dollars.

That said, however, more and more advertisers are shifting television dollars to television-plus-digital dollars. There is a debate whether traditional or new media should dictate larger CPMs; the ultimate cross-platform video experience and the actual audience should drive that conversation.

Patty Perkins, Wells Fargo: The biggest factor that I think will shape that is Bring Your Own Device. That’s the only way that devices that are designed to present streaming media will get quickly adopted in a large enterprise.

Paul Riismandel, Northwestern University: Tablets and mobile devices will continue to be one of the biggest factors. The industry is already responding to the need to serve video, whether it’s with HTML5 or native apps. But the need to ingest video and provide an experience that is seamless for the user whether s/he is on a PC, laptop or mobile device will become even more important. 

Accessibility and captioning will also be major factors, especially now that the FCC requires broadcasters to caption online videos of programs that were broadcast with captions. On top of that states are passing laws requiring captioning by schools and other enterprises.

Eduardo Henrique, Movile: Androids will definitely be a huge trend in 2013 in Latin America, especially in Brazil. Brazil’s middle class now has the conditions to buy goods and spend some money on entertainment, including digital entertainment. Companies that understand this market well will have an incredible opportunity to grow.

We also have an opportunity to help the growing number of people on Androids to connect to the Internet. In Brazil, pre-paid plans use only 2.5G networks (edge) in a daily billing of [20 cents]. Apps that need connectivity, like video streaming, may find different ways to serve users. Another important point in 2013 will be the launch of 4G in Brazil, which is interesting, but carriers will need some time to mature the network. Movile, for example, is investing in a Wi-Fi project that will be a possible alternative to solve this problem.

There’s also a really huge opportunity with Facebook. They are most focused now on mobile, and they may find more companies that use their platform with excellence on mobile and help them to monetize. This could even be a billion dollar opportunity.

James Cridland, Media UK: The continuing removal of “all you can eat” bandwidth to mobile phones will continue to slowly hamper streaming media services, as consumers remain unclear about the true cost of their entertainment. But mobile — particularly tablet — is where it’s at: not desktops.

Dick Glover, Funny or Die: The biggest factor will continue to be scale; the big boys win.

What trends are on their way out in 2013?

Alex Wellen, CNN: With digital ads playing a more fundamental role in the video ecosystem, advertisers and agencies will need to take a serious look at their TV creative assets, and produce digital ads that reflect the right length and the right content for online consumers. Tossing a 30 second TV ad into the digital mix often is not the right answer for the consumer, the advertiser, or the brand.

Kelly Day, Blip: Cable television as we know it. 3D TV is so 2010. Impractical for the way people watch movies at home. Glasses are annoying; you can’t multi-task on iPad/laptop.

Ran Harnevo, AOL On: We will see less targeting and slicing by platform and screen — less buying only on mobile, connected TVs, or a specific browser. The time is right for the four screens economy.

On the publisher side, we will start seeing TV money shift online while the big video platforms will claim (and rightly so) that the difference between the old and new TV becomes vaguer and vaguer.

Dick Glover, Funny or Die: Small, standalone programming.

Fred Jacob, Jacobs Media: Programmers who now worry that every streaming consumer represents losses in Arbitron diaries and meters will hopefully feel confident that their total audience — on-air and online — will be properly and accurately measured. Companies will begin to start adding streaming incentives into the pay packages for PDs, because more than the terrestrial audience will be important.

Doug Howard, VBrick: Video being the domain of a few specialists: Like voice before it, video is losing its own vertical or silo within IT, and becoming more of a mainstream skill that touches every IT domain. 

The passive corporate webcast: Viewers want more than just a talking head. Organizations will respond by offering moderated chat sessions, polls and other tools to encourage dialogue. Users having to access a separate video portal to create, publish, search and view video content. Increasingly, streaming video will be embedded into the application of choice; i.e., web page, SharePoint portal, UC client, and LMS system. 

Roll-your-own video content management tools: With the variety of mobile devices, screen sizes and formats on the rise, organizations don’t want to have to spend their developer dollars maintaining their in-house solution. It is cheaper and easier to buy commercial software or SaaS solutions and look to the outside vendor to innovate.

Paul Riismandel, Northwestern University: Worrying about codecs will be on its way out. H.264 has won the day.

This appeared in the December 2012/January 2013 issue of Streaming Media magazine under the title "Streaming Media 2013: What’s In, What’s Out, and What’s New for the Year Ahead?"

2013 image via Shutterstock.