Summer 2017: Ten Media, Technology and Journalism Trends

Did you manage to get away from it all this past summer? Congratulations if you did! To make it easier for you to get back into the beat, we have selected 10 things to remember about the summer with respect to the current transformation of media, journalism and TV.

Some of the announcements made in the past months may appear trivial, but could be indicative of more profound changes than expected.

By Kati Bremme and Barbara Chazelle (Méta-Media)

1. Silicon Valley Continues Its Push Towards TV and Film

All of Silicon Valley’s major players have now begun producing their own shows in association with social network stars or television celebrities.

Twitter has released ten or so shows and joined forces with Bloomberg, YouTube proposes 40 new native shows showcasing stars and Facebook intends to reinvent television with Watch. Apple will be investing $1 billion in programming.

Netflix now counts 100 million users and intends to dictate new game rules. It recently stirred up controversy when it declared that a film may be presented at Cannes without being released in theatres.

Be on the lookout: Amazon is acquiring more and more companies in all fields of activity (from ready-to-wear to cosmetics as well as tech accessories and video content). Bezos became the world’s wealthiest man and some predict that Amazon could soon be big enough to put an end to the Google/Facebook duopoly.

2. The Multiplication of Streaming Services Generates a Confusing Landscape

Given the fragmentation of the streaming market, it is increasing complicated to access one’s favourite shows. The simplicity that openness was supposed to generate has instead resulted in additional costs: television viewers risk ending up paying more for fewer services in the months to come.

A highlight of the summer was when Disney chose to launch its own streaming services and withdraw its content from Netflix. For its part, American producer Katzenberg is considering a mobile content platform.

3. Sports: GAFA is Gaining Traction

GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon) is acquiring more and more sporting event broadcasting rights, thereby following in the steps of Twitter, which intends to launch its Stadium sports channel by the fall, and Amazon outbid Sky for the ATP tour tennis rights.

E-sports continue to gain in popularity: Twitch Prime has gone global, and Facebook intends to take advantage of the trend by streaming tournaments on its platform.

4. The social platform fad remains strong, including with respect to messaging services

Instagram stories have already surpassed those on Snapchat at a time when editors are just beginning to get on board and reap success, as demonstrated by the 29 million viewers who were seduced by NBC News’ twice-daily Snapchat show, “Stay Tuned,” launched a month ago.

Conversational bots (or chatbots) continue to garner a lot of attention and their actors are exploring how to best use them. For example, 100,000 bots were created solely via the Messenger API.

The main platforms continue to reiterate that they have en editorial role to play. Remaining neutral in the face of hate speech no longer seems to be an option in the wake of the Charlottesville rally, and Spotify has deleted 37 heinous racist/white supremacist groups from its network.

5. News is searching for itself and seeking an audience

On the one hand, fundamental questions are being raised about journalism. The call made by Jon Snow (Channel 4) to Edinburg urging the profession to renew with the population is a strong symbol.

The fight against fake news makes less noise, but it is being waged on multiple fronts: Wikipedia has launched its WikitribuneMozilla has announced Misinformation, and Facebook has produced a white paper on fake news and now pays its fact-checking partners.

In parallel to these fundamental questions, news is still searching for viable business models.

We will soon be consuming news through Facebook and Google subscriptions. After having asked editors to provide their content (Google AMP and Facebook Instant Articles), the duopoly is now seeking to implement subscription-based monetization to compensate for the loss of advertising revenue. The challenge for the media is to transform Internet readers into subscribers, i.e., to place the login at the core of editors’ digital strategies. As for The Guardian, it has just created an association to diversify its sources of revenue.

Newsrooms are now pivoting to video. Some of them have adopted video exclusively and eliminated editor positions. However, between a poor video and a good text, both advertisers and readers prefer text. A balance has therefore yet to be found.

6. Podcasts are beating records

Boasting 62.4 % more users in 2017, podcasts are becoming mainstream and represent an interesting source of revenue, namely because of more accurate audience measurements. In the United States, advertisers are interested in podcasts and France is seeking to get to better know their users.

The future for podcasts indeed appears very promising. Meanwhile, Spotify playlists have replaced albums. The issue at stake is now to ensure audio’s online discoverability.

7. Advertising: alliances and monitoring

Editors are joining forces against the Google/Facebook duopoly. In France, media are forming alliances through Gravity with the exception of Le Monde and Le Figaro, which are going with Skyline.

Advertising is today under high scrutiny: on the one hand, brands want to take back control of their digital advertising campaigns; on the other hand, Google wants to eliminate formats that it considers too invasive. Beware that advertising is showing signs of a slowdown in the US.

8. Artificial intelligence has divided Silicon Valley for the first time

The polemic is eloquently illustrated by Zuckerberg and Musk. The former represents the ultra-enthusiasts, whereas the second embodies those who send out alerts on the profound societal changes at play.

9. Personal assistants and rise in power of the voice interface

GAFAM now proposes (or will soon be proposing) their assistants and, like Google Home, they are making their entry in France.

The accuracy of voice recognition is constantly improving (Microsoft’s voice recognition technology now boasts an error rate of only 5.1%), and voice has become the new search engine: voice is used today to conduct 20% of searches on mobile devices.

10. What’s next?

The next media revolution could come from driverless cars. "Instead of just listening, drivers and passengers will finally be able to watch video and play games," believes digital media specialist Gregor Pryor.

The iconic “Firefly” Google Car is already being retired because Google intends to begin mass producing driverless cars.

This article was originally published on Méta-Media and is presented here as part of the editorial partnership between CMF Trends and Méta-Média.  © [2017] [Méta-Média]. All rights reserved.

Méta-Media is France Télévisions' collective blog that focus on the evolution of traditional media, new media and journalism.
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