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Why digital video and mobile video will take over the Internet

digital video and mobile videoWhen talking about the Internet, or online video specifically, it’s hard not to think about YouTube. Perhaps that’s why their Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl was asked to give a keynote address at this year’s International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. It was his second time giving a keynote, and he used his time to point out how right he was in his previous predictions (for the most part), and to make an even stronger case that digital video will “win the decade.”

It turns out though, he was technically wrong on one prediction. He had said that 90% of Internet traffic would be video by 2020. According to Cisco’s Visual Networking Index, video will reach 90% in 2019. So he was wrong because it’s going to happen even sooner than he thought proving video is even more popular.

He made another prediction that 75% of all video will come over the Internet by 2020. That means any video, anyone watches, anywhere. Currently TV viewing is declining every year (and has since 2009 in the US; the trend isn’t as long or dramatic in the UK). And the TV monitoring company Nielsen’s estimates show that only 60% of video will come over the Internet by 2020 based on its own surveys. Kyncl though, stands by his prediction, believing digital video consumption and abandonment of traditional TV will occur at an exponential rate.

Why he thinks he’s right

Kyncl goes on to list the four reasons digital video will grow the way he predicts. Two of those reasons involve the YouTube platform itself and how it will drive consumption. But it’s the other two reasons that I found most interesting, and somewhat intertwined, so I’ll focus on those.

His first reason is, “Digital video is inherently MOBILE.” Smartphones and tablets today can support all kinds of video. People can take 4k video, share it then watch full HD movies or clips all from the same device. The devices themselves keep getting better and better each year, and the infrastructure that supports video consumption continues to improve too.

This all ties into, or rather is the driver for, his second reason which can be summed up as “Diversity.”  He goes into a detailed explanation of what this means, but basically it reflects the fact that anyone can watch anything, virtually anytime, in the privacy of their own device. People can stream their favorite shows to their own device and no longer have to negotiate who controls the TV remote with the entire family. And not only can they watch their favourite shows, but they can watch niche programming, on YouTube, websites, or other online networks. While he offers an example, I recently saw an article about one I feel describes the concept even better.

In South Korea, there’s a trend called mukbang. It involves people sitting in front of large amounts of food and eating in front of a webcam. It isn’t a contest to see who can eat the most. They aren’t required to eat it all. But people are streaming their eating and actually making money at it. That means people are paying to watch people eat online. Crazy. But kind of defines the idea of diversity.

And if you search around, you’ll find videos on every topic and virtually every culture. So there is literally something for everyone in terms of video on the Internet. And if you can’t find it, chances are you’ll start streaming it for other people to watch. Or someone will, given time. It’s both scary and exhilarating at the same time.

So is Kyncl right? I guess we’ll have to wait until 2020 to know if his firm predictions come true.

Oliver Burt

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