With 2007 wrapping up, it's time to look ahead to the new year and make 6 predictions about what's ahead for broadband video in 2008. In general, I'm extremely optimistic about broadband's potential in the new year. To be sure, there are lots of challenges ahead, but much to look forward to.
Here's what my crystal ball is telling me:
1. Advertising business model gains further momentum.
Many of you have been hearing me beat this drum for a long time now; I'm just going to go right on beating it in 2008. Advertising is the primary business model for broadband video and this will only continue to grow in importance as the year goes along.
All the elements are falling in place for the ad model's momentum. In '08 we'll see more video consumption, especially of high-quality video, and more syndication, all of which will lead to more ad inventory. But 2008 is about more than just a quality and volume; it's also about better targeting, better formats, more sophisticated sales processes and more interactivity/community building around video. I'm impressed with the range of companies pursuing each of these areas and expect them to gain lots of traction.
2. Brand marketers jump on broadband bandwagon.
2007 marked the continuation of brand marketers creating their own broadband video-centric destinations, wrapped in increasingly clever campaigns. I track these initiatives very closely and wrote about many of them (Dell and Gap, Frito-Lay, Neiman-Marcus, Smirnoff, Dove, CIT, Campari, Universal Pictures, Showtime, etc.).
In 2008, we're going to see a proliferation of these direct-to-consumer broadband-centric marketing campaigns. Marketers and agencies across the board are coming to recognize how important broadband is for engaging their audiences in a way that TV spots simply can't match. Then factor in the high cost of TV and the rampant use of DVRs to ad-skip. I'm expecting lots of creativity from brand marketers in '08 as they push deeper into broadband, further pressuring the traditional TV ad business.
3. Beijing Summer Olympics is a broadband blowout.
NBC plans to stream an unprecedented 2,200 hours of live Olympics coverage at NBCOlympics.com. All of this is going to completely redefine how broadband adds new value to live sporting events. In particular, NBC's coverage is going to shine a very bright light on the appeal of broadband to deliver multiple simultaneous events in their entirety as they occur, instead of the usual chockablock, tape-delayed coverage. It's also going to demonstrate how well-suited broadband delivery is for niche but passionate audiences.
If NBC executes well, I think it has the potential to open up a whole new horizon in how broadband can augment (and in some cases, maybe even replace) broadcast coverage of sports events. For example, golf is a sport that cries out for improved coverage that broadband can offer. Instead of cutting back and forth to players' key shots, broadband would allow for cameras to stream all players' full rounds simultaneously, with fans able to watch just their favorite player, while also keeping an eye on the main feed. Bottom line, the '08 Olympics is going to show sports and live events producers everywhere what broadband can offer them too.
4. 2008 is the "Year of the broadband presidential election."
What TV was to the 1960 presidential campaign is what broadband is going to be to the '08 campaign. Broadband's impact has already been felt. Virginia Gov. George Allen's campaign was aborted after he was caught uttering a racial slur in his classic "YouTube moment." CNN has already hosted joint debates with YouTube. Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy in a video posted on her web site and also just launched TheHillaryIKnow.com with a passel of video testimonials about her softer side. Barack Obama's web site brims with video from the trail.
In '08 broadband video will be interweaved into the fabric of the major candidates' campaigns. It won't be an augment, it will be a central feature for reaching voters, particularly young ones. Broadband offers an unprecedented inexpensive way to convey the candidates' emotions and connect with voters. Presidential campaigning will never be the same again.
5. WGA strike fuels broadband video proliferation.
As the writers' strike slogs on, it is inevitable that many writers and producers (especially below the top tier) are going to look upon broadband as an attractive new medium to ply their trade. The signs are already there. It will be an ironic twist that the strike, which is centered on reallocating "new media" revenues, is going to stoke more interest in broadband productions, but outside the traditional apparatus.
I can't put my finger on exactly how this is going to unfold, but I think I can say with confidence that there is a lot of smart money eager to place bets on broadband video content. Writers and producers with track records and plausible plans will get funded. Quarterlife, Next New Networks, FunnyOrDie are all pre-strike examples of this. The strike only accelerates things.
6. Broadband consumption remains on computers, but HD delivery proliferates.
I wrote about this in detail just last week: regrettably broadband video is NOT coming to the masses' TVs any time soon. My guess is that 99.9% of users who start the year watching broadband video on their computers (or mobile devices in some cases) will end the year no closer to watching broadband on their TVs. Some initiatives will gain some ground, but on the whole, don't expect any mass adoption of devices or mechanisms to converge broadband with TVs in '08.
Nonetheless, do expect that HD or near HD-quality broadband video is going to proliferate in '08. A survey I worked on with a client, whose results will be shared in early '08, will attest to strong content provider interest in HD broadband video. That means that viewer experiences are only going to improve, and for those with big monitors and/or easy chairs, it may actually start to feel like this whole connect-the-computer-to-the-TV is unnecessary anyway.
So there you have it. Post a comment and let me know if you agree or disagree!