I am putting my futurist mind to work for a moment to discuss where I think media consumption is headed soon. Specifically, I would like to discuss what I think will happen with TV shows and live entertainment such as sporting events in the near future. Recently, media networks have gone through a massive paradigm shift due to OTT (Over the Top) services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video who started gaining market share quickly and now have a strong foothold in the media business. The traditional route of selling media to MVPDs (Multi-Channel Video Program Distributors) has faded away quicker than incumbent media networks had anticipated. In short, the bundle of all the channels provided by MVPDs became too expensive for media consumers, so they cut the cable cord and opted for cheaper solutions that still met their needs. The typical consumer went from a $100 cable bill to a $50 internet bill with an HD antenna, $10 Netflix, $10 Amazon Prime, Hulu for $8 while still saving $22 a month. Concurrently, cell phone providers like AT&T and T-Mobile started offering free HBO and Netflix respectively with the purchase of an unlimited data plan. The dollar savings for consumers were in plain sight…snip.
More Content is NOT Better
What the television networks should have learned from the disruption to their pow-wow with MVPDs is that more content is not necessarily better. The bundling of networks was inefficient for consumers. Joe who only watched ESPN had to pay for the Food Network and the Hallmark channel even though he only watched ESPN. Furthermore, Joe only has roughly 5 hours of his day to allot to leisure entertainment. This time can be used for reading a physical book, browsing social media, or watching TV among other things. Even if Joe only watches ESPN, he only has so much time to view content. Offering Joe the ability to watch 3 baseball games everyday is pointless. Watching 3 baseball games a day would take 9+ hours to watch and average Joe does not have that kind of time. Targeted relevant time conscious content is key.
People are Lonely
The more internet connected our society becomes the more isolated we become from each other in real life. This is a problem. I’m not going to quote any studies, but if you google “Loneliness in America” you can have hours of content to read as part of your daily allowance of leisure time. We are watching and consuming content unilaterally. A person who consumes content can not talk to their TV and interact with what they are watching. Humans crave interaction. Humans crave being connected to each other. Humans crave being social. Slowly our humanity is becoming more comfortable with talking to strangers on the internet. As we become more comfortable with communicating with strangers an amazing shift in how we consume media will spark with a vengeance. We want to be connected to each other, and we may just find that connection through media.
Imagine a world that you and your friends can watch a TV series together while video chatting, calling, and communicating with text. You can share with each other how you feel during the show. Now imagine that you can watch a TV series with 1 million other people that have the same interest as you. I hate to break the news to you, but this is already happening. You may not know this, but Facebook is leading Television’s Social Revolution. You can emoji while watching content to show how you feel at different times of the content. Chronological comments allow viewers to see what people were thinking at different times during the content. This is truly a game changer in media consumption. Right now adoption of this content is slow, but once people realize how cool this is it will explode.
Choose Your Own Path
The next wave of content will let viewers decide what happens next in a TV show. For example, two characters get into a fight and suddenly the action stops. The viewer then gets to choose what happens next, and as a result the show takes a different path. Of all the people that watch the show a portion will choose each path. From that point on the show can split paths again and perhaps reconnect at the end. This will promote repeat viewership and more engagement with content.