In the early 2000s the average global viewer sat down in front of the TV for 38 hours a week and spent just a couple of hours watching video online. By 2020 that person will be watching 24 hours of online video each week.
So does that mean that TV as we know it is dying out?
No, according to the TV experts at MIPCOM 2016, an event that sees industry professionals come together in Cannes to buy, sell and discuss their changing industry. During the opening morning of the event the audience saw data which showed, somewhat surprisingly, that the increase in online viewing is not putting much of a dent in TV watch time. In fact, by 2020 people will apparently spend a staggering 61 hours a week watching video, with 44% of that online and just one hour less of TV. TV is not going anywhere; it’s just going to be sharing a piece of a bigger pie.
However, the way people use their TVs is changing, gone are the days of planning your evening around the scheduling of your favourite programme, as more and more opt for a replay or VOD service offered by their television provider.
But that doesn’t mean we don’t need or want live TV, it’s hard to imagine a future where people watch news and sports in VOD – these events will always be better live, on a large screen and shared with family and friends. It’s also a viewing style that’s supported by the power of social media, people want to be able to watch, share and discuss big events as they happen.
So, concretely, what could TV be like in the future?
It seems likely that people will continue to want big screens to gather around. On that screen you could be using some kind of ‘super platform’ that compiles video content from several sources. At the same time platforms like YouTube or Netflix will probably start offering linear TV options – in fact Hulu announced earlier this year that it was already working on live scheduling – mean you may no longer need a traditional TV service.
On the flip side traditional media will continue to invest and explore digital options and so eventually online VOD services and ‘TV’ are going to collide somewhere in the middle. The big question is, with all that choice – who will survive? As A+E Network’s Sean Cohan warned today in his keynote: “There will be winners and losers”.