• A World Awash In Video - Part 2

    Ten years ago, in my pre-VideoNuze days, I wrote “A World Awash in Video,” for my then once per month e-newsletter. Based on numerous recentIy announced initiatives, I predicted that we were “on the cusp of experiencing an explosion in the quantity of high-quality video available” and that all of these choices would create a “golden age of video.”

    Of course that was all before Netflix, Amazon, YouTube and many others exploded. My main premise - that broadband’s open platform, which removed the traditional friction of reaching audiences - was a powerful catalyst that would fuel a massive escalation of video production.

    Indeed, there’s no doubt that we have more choices than ever, but reviewing last week’s news, it’s clear we ain’t seen nothing yet. We are on the brink of being even more awash in video than ever. And one big difference vs. 10 years ago is that today’s boom is driven by companies that all have extraordinary resources and very strong incentives to invest heavily in video.

    Here’s a quick recap:

    YouTube - The 800-pound gorilla of online video has been avidly pursuing TV ad dollars for years and at its Broadcast NewFront last week, YouTube essentially doubled down, announcing yet another initiative to produce a slew of free ad-supported shows with A-listers like Ellen DeGeneres, Kevin Hart and Ryan Seacrest. And note, all of this is on top of the shows it is pursuing for its ad-free YouTube Red subscription service.

    Facebook - CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been talking about pivoting the company to be “video-first” for a while now, and the imperative to do so is acute. Facebook has messaged that ad revenue growth in its core mobile newsfeed model will slow in 2017 (though its 49% jump in Q1 belied that), so it desperately wants to start tapping video CPMs to sustain its growth. Facebook has been all over the map when it comes to originals, but Business Insider reported last week that the company could announce up to 2 dozen high-quality shows next month, purchasing rights instead of relying solely on revenue sharing.

    Twitter - If Facebook needs video to keep up its revenue growth, Twitter needs it simply to survive. Twitter has concluded that the combination of its real-time engaged audience is a natural fit with video, leading to last week’s announcement of a 24/7 breaking news service with Bloomberg. Twitter also announced 11 other video partners for news, entertainment and sports.  

    Hulu - While last week’s big Hulu news was the launch of its skinny bundle, originals continue to play a meaningful role for Hulu, which is having a moment with well-reviewed “The Handmaid’s Tale.” When it comes to high-profile originals, Hulu has always been in the shadow of Netflix and Amazon, but now originals are taking on greater importance to help differentiate the company in the brutally competitive skinny bundle market. Last week Hulu announced its own Marvel original series as well as “The First” from “House of Cards” creator Beau Willimon.

    Snapchat - Newly public Snapchat has very big expectations to deliver on and with Instagram basically copying it feature for feature, video is a key part of Snapchat’s competitive story.  Snapchat’s Discover has now grown to 60 content providers and marquee partners like Conde Nast are investing more heavily than ever. As it becomes even more difficult for advertisers to reach teens and younger audiences, Snapchat is likely to further pursue video.

    Amazon and Netflix - No two companies are driving the boom in original video more than Amazon and Netflix, which together will spend over $10 billion this year. Amazon has concluded that video is the key to driving its all-important Prime memberships. Meanwhile Netflix is playing in more segments than ever - reality, kids, etc. - increasingly using originals to drive its critical international growth.

    Countless traditional TV networks and content providers  - While the above companies are newer video entrants, the entire traditional TV industry is cranking out more originals than ever (witness “Peak TV”) as it tries to defend its central place in an ecosystem that is shrinking due to escalating cord-cutting. Then there are all the traditional publishers (e.g. NY Times, Time, Hearst, etc.) that are eagerly investing in video to evolve their models and tap into rich video CPMs.

    Add it all up and it’s clear there are a broad range of deep-pocketed companies that have strong incentives to pursue video. In fact, the only major player that is not yet aggressively executing a video strategy is Apple, which continues to simply dip its toe in the water. Should Apple ever decide (belatedly) to really ramp up its video involvement, that would further accelerate things.

    The golden age of video kicked off in 2007, but ten years later, in 2017, we are on the cusp of phase 2 of this explosion. Video is poised to be everywhere in consumers’ lives, with more choices than anyone could have ever imagined.