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The Streaming Video Revolution Is About More Than Entertainment

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2018 is off to a fast start, with the holiday festivities tucked away in memory, and well-meaning New Year’s resolutions still wriggling around in the back of our minds, demanding attention.

In the streaming world, the pace picks up in the first week of the new year. In Las Vegas, the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show, held annually in mid-January, yet again introduced the world to a number of new and improved consumer devices, many of which will rely on streaming to create their unique selling propositions.

This month’s issue of Streaming Media magazine, the last one before our historic 20th-anniversary issue, has a feature that I’m proud to have written, on a topic that I haven’t touched in the nearly 2 decades of being around the streaming industry.

I’ve often heard the hype that streaming will change the world. Here recently, though, it’s been a refrain that’s delivered in a bit more temperate manner, but also more grounded in reality.

For those of us who have been around for the entirety of the streaming revolution, it’s no surprise that streaming has infiltrated work and home life in a thousand different ways, making itself both indispensable for daily work and a catalyst for innovation on multiple fronts.

Yet what’s even more interesting is how it has impacted non-digital media industries. As a result, I’ll be using several writing slots in 2018 to explore industries where streaming really is making significant changes.

No one industry is more impacted, on multiple levels, by audio and video streaming than agricultural. Agribusiness has seen many innovations over the years, but the ability to couple sensor-equipped drones with live-streaming video allows farm hands, ranchers, and farmers to have an extra set (or dozens of sets) of eyes in the air across wide swaths of land. From detecting predators to counting sheep to 3D mapping, video-equipped drones are forever changing the landscape of farming.

But that’s not the only industry that’s been impacted. Later this year, we will explore use cases in manufacturing, mining, and music collaboration (multisite music creation as well as live distribution of multisite collaborations) as yet another way to celebrate the innovation that closely accompanies streaming. Manufacturing and mining are highly analog in their output of real-world “stuff” but they are undergirded by digital workflows to enhance and automate that production output.

Other topics of interest this year include the ongoing innovation in the AV1 codec and how that relates to High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC or H.265), as well as topics around audio, video formats, and the ongoing consolidation of the media industry.

That last topic, though, needs to be viewed through the lens of a global media industry. The overall media opportunity is also expanding, despite the over-the-top (OTT) growing pains of the contracting traditional media industry giants.

In 2018, I expect there will be greater expansion of the global viewing market for OTT, fueled not just by a growing cord-cutting populace in the United States but also by rapid growth in key markets that have never had cable television beyond a few major cities.

Finally, I look forward to doing at least one, and hopefully several, human-interest stories around the real-life impact of streaming media at a human level. Too often, we look for trends without spending time looking at the simple pleasures that streaming brings. The start of the year is a great time to contemplate exploring those small miracles. Maybe that’s a New Year’s resolution of sorts that we can all get behind!

[This article appears in the January/February 2018 issue of Streaming Media Magazine as "New Thoughts in a New Year."]

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