Among other notable trends, Deloitte correctly identified what they saw as a trend towards increased streaming in their 2015 paper, Digital Media: Rise Of On-Demand Content. They pointed out an increased consumer demand for both audio and visual content, along with an upswing of content consumption on mobile devices.
Early last year, Global Web Index posted a chart showing an increased interest among digital content consumers for live-streamed events (particularly comedic and entertainment events). This was convincing proof that streaming hype was alive and well, and that various services would be further tuning their platforms to better enable live content (which we can now see on Facebook, YouTube, etc.).
This begs the question, how will streaming evolve in the coming years as the online landscape continues to shift?
There Are Challenges Afoot
The first thing to take into consideration is that there are some obstacles poised in the streaming market's path. The debate over Net Neutrality continues to rage, with major internet players arguing vehemently that a loss of coherent neutrality standards could cripple their ability to perform in a fair environment. Beyond that, though, there's also reason to be concerned about making sure smaller, independent creators can thrive.
Back in August of last year, a post appeared on ClickZ, identifying the potential confusion that could arise when advertisers can't control the kind of content their ads appear on, reminiscent of the recent YouTube "Adpocalypse." As you'll recall, after ads started appearing on content that was deemed offensive, advertisers hastily pulled their money away from YouTube. This decreased the revenues of many content creators and caused some to consider abandoning ship.
While some are of the opinion that independent creators' contributions are minimal, it's these unique personalities that many consumers tune-in to watch. If independent creators cease to exist because they can't turn a profit, the brands they helped make into giants could suffer. Thankfully, there seems to have been some return to normalcy; many creators are learning to safeguard themselves from calamity by diversifying their income streams.
Styles Will Continue To Evolve
Live streaming is going to keep expanding (it's estimated to account for 74% of total internet bandwidth by the end of 2017) but that's not the only way that video is changing. As the reliance on mobile devices grows, so may the emphasis on shorter pieces of video content better fit for consumption on smartphones. While independent creators on platforms like YouTube and businesses that rely on social media marketing are no strangers to this style of video-making, it could stand as a new test for traditional forms of content (like scripted shows), which may have to adapt their style to fit a mobile-focused audience.
According to DaCast, video formats might also change. They're predicting a "rise of next-gen formats," citing H.265 as one possibility. This could increase the performance of online video by reducing file sizes, allowing for consumers to stream a greater deal of content. There might also be a proliferation of high dynamic range (HDR) and 4K video technologies, enhancing the quality of streamed content as well.
Technology Is Changing The Game
Virtual Reality technology could change how the masses consume video content, according to a trends report from Edelman Digital. If the price point for these devices stays low, then a focus on so-called "immersive content" could start to rise. These experiences would incorporate interactivity along with 360° video elements to create whole environments for consumers to explore. Coupled with streaming, this could lead beyond their current expected use (video gaming) and into new territory like scripted shows and movies done specifically for VR consumption.
Streaming isn't going anywhere. In spite of the challenges, this a field that will continue to grow, and brands will need to adapt their methods to take full-advantage of increased interest and the rapidly evolving technologies.
Avi Savar is CEO and Managing Partner of Dreamit, a top venture accelerator and early stage investment fund. He is the author of Content to Commerce and consults globally on trends in digital media, disruptive technologies and corporate innovation. He has been featured on Fox News, Forbes, Mashable, Business Insider, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, the New York Times and is a contributing editor for Inc.