Starting with this column and for the next few weeks, I will revisit forecasts I have made over the last ten years. As far as I know, I am the only futurist who posts most of my forecasts – what I forecast and when I did so- on my web site. All of the forecasts below have been listed since they were made.
In looking back there are several large categories: media, technology, energy, climate change, social issues and of course economics. In this column, and the ones to come on these topics I will frame the current and future significance of forecasts made. This week we start with media.
July 2008 – Internet 2.0 will be dominated by video
Current estimates put video at 80-90% of all data on the global Internet. Of course video is the most data intense files, which skews this, but nevertheless, with the introduction of ever-higher speeds of connectivity, tablets and large screen phones that have all happened since this forecast, video is king. So a correct forecast. You Tube has completely changed the world of viewing video. It is perhaps the greatest video disruption this century
November 2009 – Streaming will be a disruptive force in the television business by 2014
This is now obvious: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu to name just a few entities. This has not only disrupted the television business, it has made the word television no longer a business model tied to the formerly ‘dumb’ television appliance. That appliance is now ‘smart’ and the business is now a ‘screen’ business not a television business. Just walk down the aisle of any airplane to see all the television being consumed on tablets, laptops and large screen phones.
Streaming has also profoundly altered habits for good. First it was appointment viewing. Then it was recording and watching when convenient, fast-forwarding through commercials; time shifting. Both still tied to the schedule of networks. Now we binge watch several episodes at once. No commercials. A growing percentage of the population now have become completely self-determining as to how they watch, how much they watch, on what screen to watch and have developed an understandable resistance to watching television with commercials.
This is the biggest paradigm shift in video consumption since the heyday of cable and Blockbuster decades ago.
August 2010 – Curation of Content
The Net has become too vast to seek topical information. So now, to a great degree, each of us has chosen curated, aggregated content by category so what we need comes to us. I receive aggregated daily news on tech, climate change, media, AI, healthcare and medicine, and several others. Again,the Flow to the Individual of the Shift Age, when the individual controls and customizes the relationship.
So now, decades into the digital age, we have all developed our customized daily morning read, which, for our parents and pre-Internet, was the morning newspaper. Even newspapers have completely adopted this reality with an increasing amount of topically oriented and aggregated daily email newsletters. This will continue to expand, mostly on mobile devices.
May 2015 – The Cable TV Era is Over
This forecast was relative to the reality that the age of cable TV as a dominant business has begun to decline. This does not mean that it is completely over. As a life-long participant in and student of media, one of the clear realities is that when a new type of media comes along, it doesn’t replace old media it just means there are more pieces of the media pie.
There is still terrestrial radio and newspapers, but their share of the pie – revenue and listeners/readers – has dramatically shrunk. So media never goes away, but it influence and dominance does.
The TV part of cable is declining. The high-speed Internet connectivity is increasing. As stated above, the way and rhythms of our consumption of video content are binge oriented and ever more commercial free. Many people today, and particularly those under the age 30, now pay for high speed connectivity and a few selected streaming subscriptions. Why pay $7 a month for ESPN when you can get Amazon Video for free with a Prime Membership or Netflix for a couple of dollars more?
The golden age of cable: 1980-2015. It will still be with us, but will continue to be disrupted and will struggle as a business model.
This leads me to my last past media forecast of this column
December 2016 – Cord-cutting in the Next Four Years will be Far Greater than the Last Fifteen Years.
As Homer Simpson would say: “Duoh!”
There may not even be cords to cut in four years.
In summary, technology has forever changed the media landscape. That reality has only sped up in the last 10 years. The Shift Age transition from institution to individual and from producer to consumer is now complete. We are fully in charge.