2016 Year In Review

Published on The Drum

The below post is part of Found Remote’s 2016 Year in Review guest post series and is written by Jason George, CEO, Telescope.

Christmas comes early for content creators and producers

There has never been a better time to be in the content creation business – with so many new buyers and more and more distribution platforms for rich video, the competition for premium content is at an all-time high. Conversely, these are scary and challenging times for MPVDs and traditional networks: cord cutting is accelerating, time-shifting is on the increase, and players with plenty of muscle are entering the market with rich content and competing for those eye balls that support the $80 billion TV advertising market here in the U.S. The news that ESPN lost 621,000 subscribers in October grabbed headlines and raised eyebrows, but more significantly, it’s been losing an average of 300,000 subs per month for some time. How long until those expensive sports rights no longer stack up against dwindling subscriber numbers? And if it’s happening to ESPN – the jewel in the crown of cable and satellite providers – there must be plenty of others who are also struggling.

OTT services are a major factor in this shift – the step up in original output that the likes of Netflix, Amazon and Hulu are committing to as well as the increased breadth of their content offerings – is giving TV networks a serious headache. Showtime and HBO – among others – now have direct-to-consumer plays and more are coming. But these players are mostly focused on big budget “on demand” scripted programming, so what about live content?

2016 was the year that Facebook Live muscled its way straight to the top. That dollars are moving towards digital video is nothing new, but Facebook’s concerted push to attract more video creation on its platform, with a special focus on live video, is potentially a game-changer.

While Twitter, YouTube and others have also made significant moves, Facebook is already dominating the landscape in live, and major events like the Presidential Election saw a massive leap in live streaming across social networks.

This is only likely to continue into 2017 and beyond. The quality will improve, audience engagement and measurability are built into those platforms, and Facebook will be able to leverage its incredible insights from behavior and preferences for content discovery and recommendations. All in real-time.

Imagine watching a live NFL game and getting dynamic, personalized brand messages served into that experience during natural downbeats in the action. Plenty of challenges lay ahead before we get to that point but the technology is there to make that type of seamless integration of great content with natural (and targeted) advertising a reality in the near future.

There are still many unanswered questions and the old model is not dead yet. There is still plenty of money rolling into the “old” TV business and I still see plenty of spot ads out there. But how long before one of the new entrants starts to make a serious bids for major sports rights exclusive to their platform? They have the financial muscle and the distribution power to meet the requirements of leagues and governing bodies. Once that happens, the race really will be on. Could 2017 be the year?



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