How will online video and TV evolve in the future?

online video and TV mergingThe future’s bright. The future’s orange. Actually scrap that. The future is full of lots of different devices, including TV’s, but everyone will be watching everything online. At least this is what we think.

There is a tendency to compare online video with TV and to wonder when online video will take over. At the moment, this seems futile. The crossover is obvious but ultimately TV is useful for a certain time and a certain place, as is online video. TV has a long history. Coming up to a hundred years in fact. Whereas online video only really began five years ago. It would be impossible for online video to replace something as established as TV in that space of time, no matter how fast things move these days in comparison to way back when. Instead, the overlap between the two mediums and the rise in new devices is creating a range of different viewer options and behaviours.

The advent of online video has highlighted some of the disadvantages of TV. For example, in terms of the power of advertising, no one can measure the true number of people watching adverts on TV. It is impossible to know how many people leave their TV screens to get a drink during an ad break for example. With online video, it is possible to measure how many people click to ‘skip advert’. It is also possible to measure hot and cold spots in a video i.e. when people switch off and stop watching.

Another point that online video has managed to make in it’s young life is that people will watch adverts, if they are worth watching. We know this because audiences search for adverts online and the view counts of these videos are on display for all to see.

Online video has affected marketing methods

The rise of online video has pushed marketers to work hard at creating content that people will like enough to share via social networks. This is part of the reason for the rise of content marketing and the shift in focus to storytelling rather than pushy advertising. The major bonus associated with this is the fact that brands don’t have to spend hundreds of thousands to place a video online. They also aren’t restricted by a 30 second time limit associated with traditional TV advertising and instead have some flexibility to be creative.

So, rather than interrupting an audience while watching their favourite TV show and forcing them to watch an advert, marketers are now faced with the challenge of producing content not only that people will watch, but also that they will seek out for themselves (rather than having it shoved down their throats). Even more so, marketers are aiming to create content that audiences will like so much that they will tweet about it and put it all over their Facebook walls. Having reach in the hands of the consumers forces producers to create great content which in a way is similar to viewership numbers in that a program will get cut if it doesn’t pull in the viewers and will be promoted to a more popular slot if it is rowing viewers rapidly: both hopefully result in better content, but the time lag in the world of TV is much greater.

A future possibility for online video

Online video streaming has made it possible for audiences of millions to watch music, sport and other events live. This idea makes online video a little more like TV in terms of people having an ‘appointment’ with the Internet. Normally, audiences don’t have to worry about ‘missing’ an online video because the assumption is that they will be there forever.

This may be one way that online video will move forward in the future; making an ‘event’ of a show so that lots of people watch a video at the same time. It may be that incentives are necessary to encourage engagement. This would provide a more solid offering to advertisers; a video producer could state how many people they are hoping to reach within a shorter time frame and can then evidence the results to the advertiser.

And the survey says…

An NPD survey which was carried out in August 2012 revealed that 25% of the respondents watch online content via their TV’s several times a week. 18% do so at least once a day. These are big numbers representing the growth of online video.

However, nearly half of the respondents to the survey said that they don’t watch any online content on their TV and they have no desire to do so. The report produced from the survey stated that the lack of interest in watching online TV could be attributed to people not having the devices or technological infrastructure to do so. Could this be because people associate the sofa and TV with relaxation and the desk in the office with work? If so then surely these associations will be gone within a few years.

Viewers tastes do change as technology changes. As it becomes easier and increasingly possible to watch YouTube via different devices, interest in online video is predicted to grow. YouTube will take on board from this survey that convenience is the most important thing for viewers. They therefore need to look at how they can make it possible for more viewers to be able to watch YouTube content from their existing TV screens/devices.

The Paralympic Games – a case study

YouTube broadcasted the Paralympic Games live for the whole world to see. This was welcomed by audiences in the USA and Canada where the Games were being delay broadcasted by NBC, a major US network. This highlights how there can be situations when online video will outdo traditional television. A question has to be raised as to why showing the Paralympic Games live was not a priority for a major TV broadcaster in the US? The Olympics didn’t have the same issue. This tells us that TV can’t/won’t always accommodate everything that is in demand – meaning there will always be gaps for online video to fill. There will always be an audience too.

I.D.E.A. interview: CNN’s Erin Burnett talks to Shane Smith, CEO of Vice, and Tom Freston, MTV’s founder

Online video is part of a bigger picture story of fragmentation. You just have to look at the increase in the number of TV channels and cable providers across the world over the past 30 years. Online video is yet another option for people to watch content. Soon we won’t even be referring to ‘online video’ – there will just be ‘video’… or ‘TV’… I can’t predict which label will stick.

It is difficult for me to imagine not having a TV. Maybe I should be ashamed to admit this. One thing I do know is that more and more I am thinking to myself (when watching online content) “I wish I could watch this on my TV”. I am guessing I am not the only one and think that I am part of a market that is only going to grow. The future as I see it is that we will still have TV’s, computers, mobile devices and tablets etc but that we will get closer to being able to access the same content from each of these devices. All of this content will be online and the idea of ‘offline’ will be a thing of the past.

If you are wondering how you can promote your business with an online video production then please give us a shout.

MWP are a video strategy, production and marketing company with a focus on delivering measurable results.

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