This year has seen significant developments in the media industry that will have long lasting effects going well beyond 2016. Every major media trend from this past year centred around video, which now accounts for over two-thirds of all internet traffic. There's been three key trends that standout in my mind:
1. Social media platforms prioritising video content
2016 was predicted to be the year of online video, and it was 100% correct. The main social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, really put video content at the heart of all their strategies this past year. From Facebook Live's release in April, to Twitter's extension of its video character limit, to Instagram's launch of disappearing videos, each platform has sought to innovate and perfect its video offering, especially as online video now accounts for over two-thirds of all internet traffic, and is expected to jump to an unprecedented 82% by 2020.
2. Welcome to the era of 'Live' video
While live video streaming platforms, such as Periscope, first came to prominence last year, the concept achieved full lift off in 2016 with the launch of Facebook Live in April. The power of such live content was really illustrated by 'Chewbacca Mask Lady' Candace Payne, who's unforgettable Facebook Live video has generated a stunning 162 million views and over 3 million shares. With pay TV subscriptions in the UK declining significantly these viewers are moving to social media and Facebook Live is now a natural home for these viewers.
3. The fragmentation of sports broadcasting rights
2016 marked the year that sports broadcasting began to flourish in the digital age. Steering clear of traditional television broadcasters, sporting rights have increasingly been sold to online streaming services which are able to reach much larger audiences.
The rights associated with this content will undoubtedly increase in the next few years past their current valuation of £16 billion worldwide, due to the rise in online-only services like PPTV and Twitter, who have signed a deal with the NFL and English Premier League this year. The NFL is the biggest sport in America, and by signing a deal with Twitter to host ten of the games live over the regular season, it highlights the League's eagerness to test new broadcast ground, and could even see more games shift to an online-streaming home.
Sports broadcasting across all platforms around the globe is becoming increasingly fragmented, much like how Netflix disrupted traditional TV viewing, online-only sports offerings are now becoming the norm.
Looking into a crystal ball for potential media trends in the coming year, we can expect to see key developments in 2017. Video content and how it is consumed will be the constant theme and I feel that three key trends will come to the fore:
1. Social media platforms will keep trying to perfect video
As mentioned, last year saw Facebook Live's release in April, Twitter's extension of its video character limit, and Instagram's launch of disappearing videos. Next year, such video-focused innovations will continue amongst the most popular social media platforms. With online video now accounting for over so much of internet traffic, this figure will only keep increasing into 2017 and all the main players will be seeking ways to interest and excite their users, while keeping a close eye on what their competitors are up to.
2. Forget that TV subscription
Pay TV subscriptions are actually declining significantly with on-demand services, such as Netflix, which added a whopping 3.2 million international subscribers in the summer, picking these viewers up. A key trend we'll see next year is that while traditional TV subscriptions fall, a raft of new on-demand providers will looking for a piece of this ever increasing pie. Huge players such as the British Film Institute and BBC plan to launch their own bespoke services in 2017, meaning this area is likely to see fierce competition throughout the year as new providers jockeying for position.
3. Sports go fully online in 2017
As I said, 2016 was the year that sports broadcasting took off, moving from the traditional television broadcast to an online setting. Deals were struck and the way we watched our favorite sports changed irrevocably with content moving to Twitter, PPTV and Youtube. Next year we only expect this to shift even further, with additional sports moving from television broadcast to online streaming services - this is especially the case for those sports which are housed in one country and watched all over the globe. The English Premier League has already seen this disruption, but we can expect 2017 to bring further fragmentation of sports broadcasting.