A version of this article appeared on LinkedIn.
Over the past 100 years, the means of production and distribution of television and movies have been firmly in the hands of a few very large and well-funded production studios and broadcast companies.
In most countries, video content production and distribution have also, until recently, largely been overseen?--if not outright controlled?--?by an army of censors and reams of regulations and standards.
But with the explosion of online video in recent years, made possible by miniature HD video cameras embedded in handheld, mobile smartphones; flash drives and cloud-based storage capable of housing gigabytes of raw video files; and ultra-fast WiFi and 4G signals, the power of video storytelling has quickly moved into the hands of anyone old enough to hold a video camera or smartphone (and aim it in the right direction).
And today's video creators can instantaneously share their productions with a global audience, bypassing the traditional gatekeepers that used to exercise yes-no power over all video content.
As video production and sharing proliferates, online video will consume a larger and larger share of internet traffic. So large, in fact, that one forecast says that 74% of all Internet traffic in 2017 will be video.
It's an exciting time for video content creators and consumers, and the next few years hold the potential for major new developments in the technologies that power online video, as well as the content that is being created and shared.
Here are five rapidly evolving trends that, taken together, are likely to make 2017 the year of video:
1. Live video streaming takes off.
With the demise of streaming video apps Meerkat and Blab, 2016 was a bumpy year for the technology. But the year also saw the roll-out of Facebook Live, the continued rapid growth of Snapchat, and the launch of Instagram Stories. YouTube Live, another heavyweight in this space, recently announced it will start offering live streaming in ultra-high resolution 4K for standard videos and 360-degree videos.
Live video streaming is reaching an inflection point, and is likely to take-off in 2017. Streaming video apps put the power of video storytelling?--and with global reach?--into the hands of anyone who can operate a smartphone. And one of the powerful features of live video is the high level of viewer engagement that it generates: According to Facebook's media blog, Facebook live videos get 10 times more comments than regular video.
While the giant platforms with billions of users and bags of cash to spend on attracting celebrities and content creators are moving fast into this space, small, venture-backed startups aren't standing still. Houseparty, a new app launched by the creators of now-defunct Meerkat that offers a virtual space to hang out with friends, has attracted a million active users in just a month.
And just imagine the possibilities if a major social media platform like LinkedIn were to allow its 460 million members to live stream video.
2. The rise of video natives.
"Generation Z"?--defined as the post-Millennial generation born sometime between 1995 and the early 2010s--?is often described as a generation of "digital natives." Given their intensive use of online video across a range of platforms?--Youtube, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Musical.ly?--?I would rephrase this slightly and call them "video natives."
American teens love Youtube so much it beats all other websites or social apps, according to a recent survey by the National Cyber Security Alliance and Microsoft. 91% of teens say they watch Youtube, compared with just 66% that use Snapchat, and 61% that use Facebook.
Video natives have grown up with digital video, not only as viewers, but increasingly as content creators and global sharers as well. My teenage son mastered the basics of video editing several years ago when he was in middle school, and shared gaming tutorials that often went viral on Youtube. Today, he shares what's happening in his life in realtime with his friends on Snapchat.
My 10-year-old daughter has recently become a fan of the Musical.ly app, which enables her to record lip-synched music videos and share them with friends and fans from around the world.
And while some video apps shut-down in 2016--Vine, Meerkat, Blab?--?new ones like Houseparty are rapidly attracting large audiences of video natives.
3. The shift to mobile continues.
With 2.5 billion smartphones in use in the world, the shift to mobile continues, and more people will be watching video on their handheld devices. Today, more than 50% of all video views occur on mobile devices, and smartphones are driving digital video views up 33% year over year.
Mobile devices will become the main platform globally for viewing online video this year, according to the latest forecast from Zenith. Consumers around the world will spend an average of 19.7 minutes a day viewing online videos on smartphones and tablet computers, compared with 16 minutes on fixed devices, such as desktop computers and smart TVs.
Zenith forecasts mobile video consumption will grow 33% next year and then a further 27% in 2018, when it will reach 33.4 minutes a day. They expect mobile devices to account for 64% of all online video consumption in 2018.
4. Big brands and platforms woo independent video stars.
You know those YouTube stars your kids are watching, but you've never heard of? Well, you'll probably start hearing a lot more about them in 2017.
Just last month, Casey Neistat's video startup Beme was acquired by CNN for $50 million. He also struck a deal to develop content for CNN aimed at attracting younger viewers (like your kids). Neistat has amassed a following of 6 million subscribers on Youtube thanks to his hugely popular vlog (which he recently announced he was ending, perhaps so he can reclaim the time he'll need to develop content for CNN).
PewDiePie, the most popular YouTuber in the world, recently hit a major milestone when he reached 50 million subscribers. While it's unclear whether any major media players or consumer brands have approached him yet--or whether he would even be interested in entertaining any offers for collaboration--it's not hard to imagine such a possibility, especially in light of Casey Neistat's deal with CNN.
5. Artificial intelligence and machine learning will power video search.
For video creators of any kind?--?from 20-something Youtubers shooting a daily vlog from their bedroom, to big consumer brands with millions of dollars to burn on video marketing?--?getting viewers to find their content from among the millions of videos available continues to be one of their biggest challenges.
Recently, Google announced a major step forward in video search and discovery with the release of YouTube-8M, a database of 8 million YouTube videos comprising over 500,000 hours of video?--?all compressed into just 1.5 terabytes of data that can be further analyzed by video search engines.
By combining machine learning with human curation, Youtube created a database that they and other video search engines can use to help them identify the content of videos, beyond the keywords and other meta-data that search engines use today to help viewers find the videos they're looking for.