What would the holiday season be without predictions for the new year. 2017 will be yet another year of rapid revolution in online video. The lines between what Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials define as TV vs. online video will continue to blur as the variety of devices to watch video increases.
One change that is firmly underway is a focus away from channels toward shows. And it’s not only Millennials. I’m a Baby Boomer, and I already have a total show mindset. I either record shows or watch on demand—rarely watching “appointment TV.” This way of thinking about video consumption impacts network programmers worrying about prime time schedules and positioning shows to lead viewers to stick with their channel for an evening. Shows have to stand on their own merit, and not count on audience from the show in the previous time slot.
The impact of 4K TV
Expect to see continued sales growth of 4K TVs in 2017, and consumer confusion over standards for High Dynamic Range and HDMI2.0. So far sales of 4K TVs worldwide are strong and expected to hit over 50 million sold. Is this consumer demand or industry push? Just visit any large consumer electronics retail store and the industry hype for 4K TVs will be evident. Prices have dropped to the point where saving a few dollars by purchasing a 1080p HD won’t make much sense. So what’s wrong with this picture? The fact is that at the typical viewing distance most people use, there will not be an obvious difference between a 4K and an HD screen. There is a reason people stand so close to 4K sets—it’s the only way to see the higher resolution.
But audiences at home aren’t going to pull their seats up to the TV to watch. The simple marketing reality here is that selling based on a number is easy. 4K is bigger than 1080, so it must be better.
There are technologies that make 4K standout beyond the resolution issue. Higher contrast and high dynamic range (HDR) combined do have a meaningful impact on the viewing experience. 4K TVs supporting HDR and higher contrast are on the market. Their prices are higher, and standards aren’t settled yet. A meaningful discussion of the issues around standards for 4K is beyond the scope of this blog, so if you want to learn more, this c|net article does an excellent job of explaining them. The risk in purchasing 4K sets now is that most won’t be upgradable as the standards are settled, so could be obsolete within a year.
There are more than 3,000 OTT services active right now vying for viewer attention and subscriber fees. But according to the latest Limelight “State of Online Video” report, the average number of household OTT service subscriptions is three. Some will depend on ad revenue, but something has to give way. I expect to see OTT service providers partnering to form bundles consisting of multiple services in the same genre. In the early days of cable TV, this was a common practice that worked well to cross promote programming successfully. But overall, it doesn’t seem likely that all these services will be viable long term.
While Virtual Reality (VR) is garnering most of the media attention now, Augmented Reality (AR) will find broader market adoption long term. Unlike VR, AR is only partially immersive. You can see through and around it. AR inserts virtual images onto the actual physical world the user sees, thus “augmenting” it. The below images are of AR glasses views of a driver navigating in a city, and a visitor in Venice. There are overlay images added of blue directions guidance, indications of parking facilities, street signs, information about a site, etc.
The mobile capability of AR gives it the potential to have a similar role as mobile phones and tablets, and with that comes a user base in the hundreds of millions of users. VR means wearing a video screen on your face, AR is like a transparent mobile phone with the potential to become the next evolutionary step in mobile communications and applications. This opens up a wide variety of applications in social media, sports, navigation, and advertising, etc. For more about AR and VR, see a blog I posted earlier this year.
The massive DDoS attack against Internet infrastructure company DYN was only the beginning of what is likely to become a series of targeted attacks against specific organizations. The Mirai botnet tool and 100K compromised IoT devices were deployed against DYN. Many security experts believe this attack was a “Weapons test” trying the capabilities of the Mirai botnet, and to observe the reactions and recovery strategies, in preparation for future usage against an organization.
Now is the time to get cyber defenses in place. Defending against massive volumetric attacks like Mirai requires a large defense surface, exactly what is provided when DDoS attack interceptor technology is integrated with a CDN.
Stay tuned for more as these predictions pan out in 2017, I will blog about them here.