Log On, Turn Off, Download

(On Media Trends for Streamland)

This post’s title is a play on Timothy Leary’s “Turn on, tune in, drop out”, which it turns out was credited by Leary to Marshall McLuhan, which is perfect since the subject is about media and what’s ahead. (McLuhan, for those who need a reminder, is credited with the concept of the global village and what would be the world wide web.)

More streaming mobile media please according to media research firm Zenith:

24% of all media consumption across the world will be mobile this year, up from just 5% in 2011, according to Zenith’s Media Consumption Forecasts 2018, published today. By 2020…to reach 28% as the mobile internet takes share from almost all other media….

The same goes for print and the folks at Zenith “estimate that between 2011 and 2018 time spent reading [print media] has fallen by 45% for newspapers and 56% for magazines….

It’s not that people have stopped reading, watching television or radio content, it’s just that they are consuming it via the computer in their pocket, and it will be in increasing amounts. They “estimate that the average person will spend 479 minutes a day consuming media this year, 12% more than in 2011 … and forecast the total to reach 492 minutes a day in 2020.”

A Recode rendered chart, based on Zenith data, points the way forward.

That said, tastes have changed as well when it comes to what kind of content is in demand. I saw this chart via “fintwit” and it doesn’t surprise me at all. It’s one part demography and another part contemporary demand. News is “noise” is not the total answer for what has happened. Consumers are getting their news via social networks and other platforms.

Cable news ratings now firmly negative y/y as viewers lose interest in Season 2 of the Gong Show. Time for the writers to freshen things up. pic.twitter.com/AP6Wr6YCKB

— modest proposal (@modestproposal1) June 11, 2018

Consumption is up for “streamland” native media and Netflix, as regular observers know, is the standard bearer. A Vanity Fair’s piece by Josef Adalian describes the scene in a good piece about Netflix. What caught my eye was a reminder that the mother of all Netflix hits, House of Cards, which helped to catapult the platform into original show production, will be stream its final season on the platform later this year:

House of Cards is airing its final season this fall, and Netflix now makes more television than any network in history. It plans to spend $8 billion on content this year. “I’ve never seen any one company drive the entire business in the way Netflix has right now,” says Chris Silbermann, managing director of ICM Partners and agent for Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal creator Shonda Rhimes, who moved her production company to Netflix last year.”

We all know about “bingewatching”, a transformative formula of purchasing or approving a show and training users to being carpet-bombed with an entire season — all in one sitting if possible. As has been said, the only enemy to resist such content bombardment is sleep but how to resist a platform intent on raising its flag everywhere? Today our living & bedrooms, tomorrow the world:

Instead of selling its content to international partners, Netflix has eliminated global middlemen and set up shop in over 190 countries, allowing it to debut a new season of an American animated series (BoJack Horseman) or a German thriller (Dark) around the planet, all on the same day and at the same time.”

It has replaced demographics with what it calls “taste clusters,” predicating programming decisions on immense amounts of data about true viewing habits, not estimated ones. It has discovered ways to bundle enough niche viewers to make good business out of fare that used to play only to tiny markets.

To elaborate about making a lot of nickels from niche watchers, streamland’s disruption was not just about delivering to, or harvesting from, different time zones the same content, it was time itself being crisscrossed and mashed up. VF, quoting Netflix VP Lisa Nishamura, zeroed in another disruption of media: “Is it really niche, or have the distribution channels for those categories been historically disaggregated, making it difficult to actually get scale and momentum and word-of-mouth and all those things that help to grow audiences over the course of time?’” Suddenly an art-house documentary hard-pressed to fill an tandem-bike’s worth of theater seats could find a large audience.

But the piece discovers that it’s not all one shining quantum driven realm:

““It’s 70 percent gut and 30 percent data…Most of it is informed hunches and intuition…. [it] reinforces your worst notion or it just supports what you want to do, either way.”

But Netflix is not alone. And while it looks like a potential deal for Fox assets may have fallen through, I still believe the greater story is about another platform emerging, ready to gobble up a share of what Zenith’s projections for future media consumption. We’ll be spending more time consuming more media, and the only question is who will provide it.

Originally published at big-stack.com on June 12, 2018.