Hot and new: Our KeyTrends mid-year update report

New digital marketplaces for media rights, the rising popularity of real-time video broadcasts and the effects of algorithms on content discoverability… Here are a few of the trends covered by CMF’s latest report on developments shaping today’s screen-based industries.

Summer is not only made for having fun around the pool or enjoying a BBQ meal with friends. This is the happy time of the year when we release our Mid-year Update Key Trends report. First and foremost, let me take this opportunity to thank all of you for reading and sharing extensively our 2015 Key Trends report entitled The Big Blur Challenge.

Let’s see what grabbed our attention in this Mid-year Update that can download here.

Users are being channeled into isolated filter bubbles

There is unprecedented choice of content, but users’ attention span has shortened leading to overwhelmed users who tend to limit their network access to fewer yet larger and dominant platforms.

What we explore in this update is the fact that most of these dominant platforms (such as Facebook, Google, Amazon and Netflix) rely on algorithmic formulas to provide recommendations, thus creating “filter bubbles.” Indeed, each user’s individual web profile (based on browsing history, geographical location, etc) influences what he or she sees on the web.

In many cases, this “personalized content offering” can be appreciated by users... but, it also reduces the discoverability of content that doesn’t match a user’s profile. This can become even more problematic when platforms and services favour certain types of content (such as paid content) over others as we show through examples and data in the report.

Content globalization and integrated markets

As we have noted in our previous reports, the transfer of TV content toward online viewing is gathering momentum. In the US, PricewaterhouseCoopers predicts that electronic home video sources combined (i.e., streaming video, video on demand, over-the-top and transactional) will generate more revenue that the entire film industry by 2018.

Yet, we now know that this streaming culture is essentially based on a logic of free access to content or on very low entry prices. The challenge for all stakeholders will be to find ways to sustain their program investments in original content in the future.

In the meantime, rights management is also moving toward globalization. While Netflix wants to acquire global rights for its new acquisitions and original content investments, the European Commission is proposing regulatory measures such as lifting geo-blocking for European content and modernizing copyright laws.

Game watching, eSports and changing real-time viewing habits mark the rise of new content formats

Since the release of the latest Trends report in January, eSports have conquered new ground and invaded linear TV and theater screens in North America. This remarkable rise points to a broader phenomenon: the arrival of new content formats based on long-form video and broadcast in real-time with little or no editing or narration.

This growing appetite for lengthy real-time entertainment explains in part the almost spontaneous popularity of Meerkat and Periscope, two real-time broadcasting applications. While this format isn’t completely new to television (think of live journalistic coverage), it’s gaining new ground on the small screen. Slow TV (hours of unedited content) has left its homeland of Norway and is being adopted by several broadcasters and even advertisers around the world.

Will future audiences grow as digital-only consumers?

While we previously focused on the rise of what is referred to as new digital personalities such as YouTubers, this time we focused on those who watch these new creators. When we know that Twitch (a dedicated game-watching platform) has 51 million viewers worldwide and that at least 49% of them are under 35 years of age, it seemed important to take a deeper look at the new cohort of content consumers, i.e., the ones who follow the millennials: generation Z (which spans from the mid or late 1990s to today).

According to Nielsen, the average US teenager (12–17 years old) watches 4 hours less of traditional TV per week compared to 10 years ago. A similar trend is being observed in Canada. Will this new generation ever revert to more traditional content consumption platforms?

Fewer and fewer gatekeepers in the generation of revenue

Could further automation lead to new (and more disruptive) ways to trade audiovisual rights?

To this day, the transition to digital has also meant optimizing services, rationalizing processes, introducing efficiencies and cutting back on middlemen. Aggregation platforms like YouTube, Vimeo and Dailymotion do much the same thing in the audiovisual world. They automate delivery and distribution while facilitating monetization, where applicable, through transactional models, subscriptions or advertising.

But while rights clearance and commercial negotiation still exist upstream from this online exploitation, we could see a growing number of virtual marketplaces like Rights Trade or Fadel disrupt traditional markets. They might even bypass sales reps or distributors while providing new opportunities for right owners to control their exploitation at a lesser cost than distributor commissions, with consumers potentially benefiting from lower prices.

Is there anything to tame the giants?

This last chapter always refers to the transformation of the competitive landscape and the new players that are shaping the content ecosystem. Previous reports have pointed to a growing dominance of major American web players such as Google, Facebook, Netflix, Amazon and Apple.

In this report, we reflect on creative alliances, new competitors and bold regulatory proposals that could “tame the giants.” We focus specifically on the heated competition between YouTube and Facebook for online video views, on the players that remain staunchly independent despite the pressure (Snapchat, Vice and Vessel), on the rise of China and India as digital economy powerhouses, and on new regulatory proposals to keep the giants in check, such as Europe’s Digital Single Market plan.

At the end of the report, you will also find a table summarizing the challenges and opportunities facing content producers and distributors in regards to the many changes that are presented in the report.

Enough said. Grab that cocktail, sit comfortably by the pool and click here to read the full report.

Catalina Briceño
Renowned for her outstanding communication and engagement skills, for the past 20 years, Catalina Briceño has helped companies in the media and cultural sectors develop and deploy digital transformation, innovation, and diversification initiatives. Among her main accomplishments, she contributed to the growth and the international success for Têtes à claques (Salambo Productions) and founded and managed the Canada Media Fund’s Industry & Market Trends department (2010-2018). As a visiting professor at UQAM’s École des médias, she today shares her passion for industry and market trends and forward thinking on the future of television and media with her students and industry colleagues.
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