Bye bye, web tv – hello online video
The decline of linear TV has been a topic for a long time, today no one is questioning the fact that the way we consume TV and moving pictures has changed.
A recent study shows that 60 percent of Swedish 15–19 year-olds get all their video consumption digitally, no linear viewing at all. So OK, linear decline is a fact, but what are they watching? Of course Netflix, HBO and the traditional play channels have taken a larger and larger share of the screen time, but studies are now showing that the clip-based viewing is growing even more. Youtube, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitch and others are all creating a new behavior on how to consume content. Watching short snackable video content wherever you are is becoming a part of daily life and a larger and larger part of all online consumption. A development in many ways driven by the large social platforms that have put video right in the center of their products as a natural part of the user experience. Mark Zuckerberg himself states:
“We see a world that is video first, with video at the heart of all our apps and services.”
“Watching TV” no longer only means sitting on the sofa consuming hour-long programs on a big screen, it has become a continuous stream of online video on all different platforms and all time of the day. A natural part of our media consumption.
Back to hieroglyphs
But not only consumption, the way of communication is also changing. The new generation is leaving text-based and voice-based communication in favor of pictures, video snippets and live broadcasts, to communicate with each other. We are in many ways seeing a visual revolution where the traditional language is changing. 5,000 years ago we communicated by painting pictographic hieroglyphs on walls, then advanced alphabets gave us tools to write and express ourselves in tremendous ways. But when looking at the communication of today, it feels like we are back where we started. Expressive text has turned into one or two emojis, a dancing lady for “lets go party” or a crying smiley-face to express joy. And why not send a short video or just keep an open video live feed between you and your friends?
“We are in many ways seeing a visual revolution”
The generation growing up in today’s Western society is brought up with a smartphone or a tablet in their hand, always with the technology at hand to watch “TV” whenever they want. Do we really think that text will be their preferred consumption medium? No. We believe that the digital industry needs to revise how they deliver content and communicate with users. For how long can a job ad or an instruction booklet consist of 5,000 words instead of an explanatory video? Is the article you are reading now really in the right content form? As a matter of fact, the younger audience is using Youtube as their first stop for searching information, instead of traditional text based search engines!
That said, it’s a fact that video is also growing in popularity as primary way of consuming news. According to Swedish research firm Ungdomsbarometern as many as 8 percent of the youngest audience (15–24 years) switched from “reading” as their favorite way of consuming news to “watching them” over the last year. There’s a clear trend of increasing time spent and video starts by the day on Schibsted’s news sites Aftonbladet and VG and we are taking great leaps of integrating video as a natural part of the news experience. But honestly, it has been quite a long way to get to where we are today.
The same journey
Every transformation takes time, you need to understand how new environments actually work and there’s a strong resemblance to earlier journeys. From being printed newspapers the papers became PDFs online, the PDF was rebuilt into a desktop site where users who happened to use a mobile phone had to zoom in to be able to read, to the native apps of today. We have made the same journey when it comes to video. From simply been producing traditional TV on the web (well, it has after all been called Web TV), long scheduled broadcasts and programs, formats that honestly do not match digital and mobile experiences, we are now getting a grip of what really works.
Content needs to be adapted to whatever device it is watched on. If in mobile, make it really short, direct to the point, start adapting to vertical viewing (as users actually like holding the phone) and integrate text (very few watch with sound). Most importantly – integrate video closely in the environment where it is present. Video should not be a separate site or destination, it should be looked upon as any other type of content that tells a story.
So, video is a fantastic bearer of engaging content, earlier reserved for the TV and the sofa experience, but now available for each and every one to enhance their experience and communication. We believe that everyone needs to embrace video to stay relevant to the new generation, but be sure to find what fits into your experience, and do not produce TV on the Web.