Where Content Is Headed in 2019

It’s prediction season, when pundits turn to the past to predict the future or where they turn sesquipedalian when they’re stumped.

Recently I’ve seen several articles proclaim, “TV isn’t dead.” Maybe, but traditional TV is struggling. United Kingdom telecom regulator Ofcom, for example, found viewers in that country consume 5.1 hours of audiovisual content daily, but only 71% is from broadcast. The other 29% is OTT. Among the 16-to-34 demo, broadcast share is 46%. Saying traditional television viewing is “robust” is like telling the kids the goldfish isn’t dead, it’s just sleeping.

Here’s what I see coming in 2019:

1) With the increasing role of AI, “polycloud” becomes common vernacular, acknowledging Microsoft, Amazon and Google, for example, offer similar core services, but each has its own special expertise. Polycloud architecture creates a more custom solution.

2) We’re not done with M&E M&A. Consolidation makes it clear control of your content supply chain is crucial. On the horizon:

• The Justice Department swings and misses in its “re-effort” to disrupt the AT&T-Time Warner deal;
• Hulu do-si-dos and changes partners as Comcast, The Walt Disney Co. and AT&T find it impossible to come to mutual agreement on how the service evolves.
• AMC, Lionsgate, CBS and Univision — among others — are potential targets.

3) Google and Facebook controlled 58% of the ad market in 2018, Amazon just 4%. In 2019, Amazon leverages its accumulated purchasing and browsing data, along with consumer credit card data on hand, especially as Facebook’s audience skews older. Look for a double digit share by 2020.

4) Huge spending on AI by the industry’s biggest players means we’ll see better management of data, allowing companies to better utilize that data in advertising, content delivery, content development and more. Better data mining produces true business insights and opportunities.

5) Oddly, pundits like to compare OTT to traditional TV, positing that the bumper crop of OTT services has saturated the market, creating insurmountable challenges for new entrants. That’s absurd. OTT is not traditional TV; it thrives on consumer choice, random interaction and its own ability to iterate and respond to the changing conditions of new TV. AI will help “mine” audiences for niche producers globally, enabling smarter solutions for distributors and consumers. In 2019, Netflix and Amazon continue to grow, while audiences supplement with a revolving carousel of services.

6) Every sports team, league and conference will go over-the-top because that’s where their audience is. With the legalization of sports betting in the U.S., sports accelerates its move online to appease the 64% of 25-to-34-year-old North American men expected to dabble in sports betting.

7) The next generation of cord-cutters is looming, this time wired broadband, as 5G quickly ramps up to offer speeds and latency performance to rival fiber. About two dozen carriers are expected to launch 5G in 2019; another two dozen plus are expected in 2020. 5G wins before the race even officially starts.

Your thoughts? Email me at Jim@ooyala.com.

Jim O’Neill is principal analyst at Ooyala, a provider of online video platforms and workflow management systems.