Multichannel News began publishing its annual Viewer Watch Special Report in 2006 with an eye toward seeing how the changing use of video was transforming the TV business. It is extraordinary what has happened in the ensuing years to digital media, which was long referred to by executives as “emerging” and “new media.”
Early on, they debated some issues that now seem quaint. Should cable networks put their content online? Was it wise to sell their content to Netflix? Why would anyone watch video of dubious quality streamed over the internet when they could view it on a beautiful, large TV in this emerging video standard called high-definition?
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Often the discussion veered into apocalyptic terrain. Will Google Fiber wreck the pay TV sector? How fast will cord-cutting destroy the cable industry? Or, alternatively, just how quickly will young people return to the pay TV fold as they get older and presumably wiser?
Over time, discussions of the power — or poverty — of new media have thankfully disappeared. In transcribed interviews with 22 TV executives and researchers for this 2018 report, the phrase “new media” appears not at all — and for good reason. Heading into the New Year, Magna Global was predicting that the digital media ad spend would exceed TV advertising revenues by more than $30 billion in 2018 and that it would hit $105 billion in 2019, slightly more than the $101 billion PwC is predicting consumers will spend on pay TV subscriptions.
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And those trends make many of the central business and economic issues that have long been the obsession of this report more relevant than ever. If new media has passed into a mature media, the old questions of how to make money from video content or craft consumer-pleasing products are now central.
Given the difficulties many face in turning those old problems into newfound profits, we hope that this report will once again help readers understand the major trends that will impact their businesses in 2018 and beyond.
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As usual, we are indebted to many people who helped with this report. In addition to the executives at pay TV operators, networks, OTT players and research firms who generously gave of their time, many research companies also contributed their insights and data. Among those, we’d particularly like to thank Frank N. Magid Associates, Horowitz Research, Magna Global, PwC, Nielsen and SNL Kagan for sharing their data with us.
To download the full Viewer Watch report, please click here.
Contributing writer George Winslow compiled the data, conducted the interviews and wrote the articles for this report.
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