Predictions On The Future Of Digital Media

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Predictions On The Future Of Digital Media

It’s pundit time — this time, digital media style.  Last year I predicted challenges to YouTube’s dominance in online video, a beginning of cord cutting and the unbundling of video services, and an explosion in short form video content. This year the media landscape will continue to shift as VR grows up and consolidation takes over.


VR Will Be The Headline Story

Several millions of premium headsets (not just Google Cardboards) will be sold by major consumer electronics companies that have invested billions of dollars to create market demand.  It will feel like the early days of the game console market.  While gamer experiences will dominate VR in 2016, live action VR will also show promise as the language of VR story-telling develops.  Jaunt, fresh off its new massive round of $65 million from Disney and other media giants, will be one to lead the way. Photo courtesy of AFP PHOTO / JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER


Traditional Media Companies Hunt Digital-First Upstarts

These strategic bets will be driven by the realization that new DNA is needed to play in our transformed mobile-first, social and millennial-driven media environment.  The remaining multi-channel networks (MCNs) with scale and HBO-like “originals” are targets, as are leading digital-first production companies that sell to the growing list of OTT providers (such as Verizon’s new go90 service) that pay big for exclusive programming.  For creators, this heralds a new “Golden Age” of content.  And for consumers, this means choice like never before.  Too much?  Companies that can help navigate it all will be in demand.


Cord Cutting And "The Great Unbundling" Continues

The list of YouTube challengers (like Facebook and Snapchat) and challenging stand-alone OTT services will grow. New OTTs increasingly will include subscription services from both traditional media companies (like NBCUniversal’s “Seeso”) and a growing list of vertically-focused media companies (like The Chernin Group/AT&T’s Otter Medi joint venture and signature Fullscreen service).


Live Streaming Grows Up

Live streaming (both event and individual/social) will join video on demand (VOD) as a key area of focus for media companies both young and old.  Live social network YouNow recently raised $15 milllion this year and is one to watch, while Twitter acquired Periscope for about $100 million.  Will Meerkat be next in 2016?


Music Streaming Market Continues To Be Bad

On the music side, major services’ (Spotify, Pandora, Rhapsody) subscription-focused business models will continue to be challenged.  That’s why they smartly sought to diversify their revenue streams in 2015.  Case in point Pandora – which acquired Ticketfly for $450 million.  Will it be acquired in 2016?


eSports Makes More Noise

eSports – already quietly massive – will be quiet no longer, as an increasing number of stadiums will overflow with teens cheering for their favorite e-Athletes (and major brands fight to reach them).  2016 may be the year that leading e-Athletes organize to bargain collectively.  And, traditional sports and live event mega-players (AEG, Live Nation) may consider M&A to enter this digital sports world that is here to stay.


Video (Games) Kill The Movie Star (And Everything Else)

The video game industry will continue to out-pace and dwarf traditional media titles in terms of revenues due to VR and eSports rapid adoption.


The Market For Wearables And Digital Health Continues To Grow

The Apple Watch is just an early prototype for things to come.  And, just imagine the resulting data and diagnostic possibilities for mobile, democratized healthcare.  Those will come alive in 2016.


Media And Telecom Companies Vie For Global Partnerships

Borderless global partnerships amongst previously territory-constrained media and tech companies will accelerate amidst these new digital realities.  Expect an increasing array of major strategic moves like those seeking to challenge Netflix (much like 2015’s HOOQ with Warner Bros., Sony and SingTel in Asia).