Small Screen Viewing is Becoming a Very, Very Big Deal

TV isn’t dead. It has just morphed into a dizzying array of ultra-confusing solutions … that’s right, everyone has the answer. 

by Andy Marken

Take the simplest – screen size.

Streaming to the big screen has shown an increase.

But for some, the smartphone is the preferred way of watching your stuff. The kids watch nearly everything on their smartphones, including watching 2 to 3 of a series. 

Actually, with about two-thirds of the world population having a mobile device, it’s not surprising that Adobe Digital Insights recently reported that the smartphone is driving content consumption. 

According to Akamai, one of the most popular content delivery firms, the U.K. has the fastest mobile speeds, with an average of 26 Mbps; and the folks in Holland get to stream with a respectable speed of about 17 Mbps. 

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The U.S. lags behind most of the developed world in mobile internet speeds, ranking 28th.

Measuring the mobile Internet speed is important, since mobile (and especially video) consumes a huge share of today’s internet usage.

Video Dominance

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Netflix and Amazon Prime have set the pace for OTT video content streaming with their subscription services of really great content that the global audience wants.  The shrinking audience ratings – among all age groups – means fewer ad dollars for them as the content shifts to anytime, anywhere, any device internet delivery.  

A few people say it’s obvious that people are shifting their viewing to subscription services, but here’s where we disagree.

Yes, we have both Netflix and Amazon; but we (and our kids) also watch a lot of ad-supported shows like news and a variety of ever-changing series.

So do most people.

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According to the CTA (Consumer Technology Association), most folks (young and old) have given up watching live TV. 

Kids were almost born with the smartphone in their hands, so it’s logical that it’s the first thing they would turn to for their entertainment. 

But even millennials spend 55 percent of their video viewing time after the show has aired.

The viewing time has been supplanted by more folks watching through paid/free sites, network websites/apps.

The content developers and distributors are beginning to work on ways to economically deliver content to whatever the viewer is watching at the time. 

They’re not really concerned about a valid business model or if the infrastructure delivers ROI (return on investment) to the ecosystem participants.   They just want their content 24/7 on the screen viewers are watching at the time.

And I think that’s going to be a healthy mixture of long-form and short-form content.

As long as the content is professionally created and presented, it’s all good. 

YouTube and Facebook are already taking steps to move beyond the cute stuff that populates the two sites to something that has a high degree of professionalism about it. 

Both seem determined to move to the next level of content, more in line with what Netflix, Amazon and studios produce but on the short-form approach to appeal to today’s younger, shorter attention span audience. 

Undoubtedly, Jeffrey Katzenberg’s activities at the June Allen & Co Sun Valley media finance conference didn’t go unnoticed by the two firms.

After selling DreamWorks  to NBCUniversal, he was looking for his next great venture and he saw that short-form video was exploding but the vast majority was being done by amateurs.

“There was no professional approach in developing the kind of content people wanted,” he noted, “just cute stuff you obviously wouldn’t pay to view, even if that payment was having to watch an ad.” 

Katzenberg’s solution, which he is slowly launching, is tentatively called New TV, which would fund professional productions created by proven industry professionals.

Actually, this isn’t his first rodeo.  The producer of over 400 mega-franchise films originally launched a similar project back in 1999 with Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, called Pop.com.

Long before broadband, connectivity was available for the delivery of similarly professional short-form content to the desktop.

Today, with mobile devices everywhere and high-speed broadband widely available Katzenberg feels the time for professional short-form content is right and many in the industry think he just might be the one to make it happen.

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