Looking Ahead to 2017 Viewing

In many ways, 2016 and 2017 will be go down as landmark years for the TV industry. After years of complaints, excuses, technical hurdles and much hard negotiating, consumers will enter 2017 able to view a vast array of TV content available on just about every available digital platform and consumer-electronics device, with more to come in the next 12 months.

This is a very notable development, though its gradual, evolutionary progress has made the near-ubiquity of digital video less of a headline than it deserves. When Multichannel News started this annual report in 2006 and decided to focus on how the changing use of video was affecting the TV business, hardly any high-quality TV programming was available outside of the traditional arena (that is, “over the top”). Even five years ago, a host of issues relating to rights and widespread worries that digital distribution would cannibalize existing businesses, severely limited available content.

Related > New Normal: Digital Distribution

Today, many researchers and executives would argue that the proliferation of digital content has generally been a very positive development. Despite widespread predictions four or five years ago that Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook would use their combined market capitalization of $2 trillion to swallow the TV industry like a shark digesting a minnow, the industry remains relatively healthy. Cable operators that have embraced new consumer habits, such as Comcast, have even begun adding subscribers, turning around years of declines.

Much uncertainty remains, though. As this year’s special report stresses, there are many major debates over basic issues like rate of decline in pay TV subscribers, the size of the potential OTT market and even the usefulness of widely used terms like cord-cutting. By diving into many of those debates and parsing some very complex data trends, we hope this report will once again help readers understand many of the major trends that will have a major impact on their businesses in 2017 and beyond.

Related > Old Controversies and New Businesses

In putting together this special report, we are indebted to many people. More than 20 pay TV, network, digital and research executives generously gave of their time, producing over 40,000 words of transcribed interviews that are the basis of the 2017 Viewer Watch feature stories.

A number of research companies also contributed their insights and data. Among the organizations that were particularly helpful in providing data, we’d like to thank Frank N. Magid Associates, Horowitz Research, Magna Global, PwC, Nielsen and SNL Kagan.

To download the complete "Viewer Watch" special report, please click here.

Contributing writer George Winslow compiled the data, conducted the interviews and wrote the articles.