Not too far off in the future, video will be the internet, and the internet will be video. How do we know this? Just look at the numbers. According to Cisco, global IP video traffic will be 79% of all consumer internet traffic in 2018, up from 66% in 2013. This number can only be expected to increase, as online video users are expected to double—reaching 1.5 billion by 2016.
The best way to appreciate and understand this shift toward online video is to look at the increase in consumption and socialization. To do that we should look at the numbers, but more than that, we have to listen to what the numbers are saying and figure out what that means for the industry.
Video Consumption: Binge-Watching is the New Norm
The first shift in video is consumption. It’s no secret that online video is increasing at a rapid rate. Services like Hulu Plus and Netflix have completely changed the game for long-form videos on the internet. Netflix alone has 50 million subscribers watching over one billion hours of video monthly, 36 million of whom are Americans. Compare this to the 56 million U.S. households who have a premium cable subscription and you can see how popular long-form internet services are becoming.
But what’s more notable about Netflix is how it revolutionized both the binge-watching and all-at-once release strategies. Because Netflix posts multiple seasons of shows like Breaking Bad and Friday Night Lights, viewers are able to binge-watch shows for hours (sometimes days) on-end. In fact, 61% of Netflix users admit to binge-watching shows regularly. Factor in that Netflix is now releasing exclusive full seasons of mega-successful shows like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, and it’s even more apparent that Netflix is holding on firm to long-form internet video success.
Changing the Video Landscape with Short-Form and Mobile
Then comes short-form video. Whether it be Vine, Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat, short-form video is finding a comfortable home on the traditional “Third Screen” which has subsequently become the new “First Screen.” According to eMarketer, in 2013 40% of U.S. viewers watched video on their smartphones, a number which is estimated to grow to 54% in 2016. Consumers spend an average of 33 minutes per day watching video on mobile devices, most of which is short-form.
And before you think we’ve forgotten, we can’t mention online video without mentioning YouTube. A source of both long and short-form video content, YouTube still remains the king of online videos. With more than one billion unique users visiting the site every month, watching more than four billion hours of video, YouTube continues to thrive in the increasing internet video content landscape.
The Socialization of Video Content
While all forms of video are experiencing increased consumption—in large part due to better service offerings and more availability on devices—the socialization of video is becoming an even bigger influence for viewers. Take for example Huffington Post Live. Instead of the one-way communication of standard news broadcasts, Huffington Post Live gives anyone with a webcam a chance to tell their story. Through this live-streaming network of videos that utilize the HuffPost universe, the news outlet and viewers work in unison to create a real-time script based on the day’s top stories and news. Viewers are able to interact, comment and converse on the news, instead of being told and talked to with no interactive option. To date, HuffPost Live has generated 445 million viewers and attracted more than 13 million unique visitors per month. Users are also spending an average of 22 minutes engaging with the video content, which the company boasts is more than four times the industry average.
Giving viewers the power to broadcast and tell the news, as well as share videos they find interesting, is further increasing the success of online content. Even something as simple as a “share” or “like” option has had positive effects on the industry. Mobile video ads that include social media buttons drive 36% more engagement then videos with no option for interactions. Viewers increasingly want to be involved with their media, whether that means reporting it themselves or sharing what they see in real-time.
Socialization of Video is Driving Consumption
And while consumption and socialization seem unrelated, in fact the success of the online video industry depends on both. If there was no avenue for increased consumption, socialization wouldn’t be as vast. And if socialization of video didn’t exist, consumption would be stunted. If video consumption continues to increase and socialization continues to expand, it will result in a complete shift from televised video to online video.
That isn’t to say that television is completely dead, but we can’t ignore the numbers. While video consumption and socialization are adapting and exceling, appointment television consumption is falling among the millennial generation, who are the best predictors of future generations. According to Neilson, traditional TV viewing among 18-24-year-olds in the first quarter of 2014 is down by almost 7% year-over-year. This isn’t a drastic drop, but it is something to watch as online video continues to excel. Only time will tell if these numbers are a correct indicator of the future of the video ecosystem, but all signs are pointing that way.