For the fifth year in a row, Finland's Simon Staffans has published a unique compendium of opinion about what he calls "now media," a coinage designed to side-step the flame wars over nomenclature ("transmedia" being the most notorious) that were underway at the time. It was a wise decision, as you will see if you dip into his document, which is divided into two parts -- a survey of Simon's own views as expressed in a year of quite sharp blog posts; and a series of online interviews with thinkers and practitioners in this space, including Lance Weiler, Jeff Gomez, Caitlin Burns, Michael Monello, among others -- and me.
To read or download the complete document, go here, or flip through the embed below. For my opinions, read on. Once again, Simon provides me with an excuse to review trends and themes driving creativity in this digital world of ours, as the year comes to a close. (BTW: Shortly, I will post my 2015 "best-of" lists in books, films and television.)
SIMON: In your opinion, how has the media world evolved this past year?
NICK: 2015, the year of mainstream streaming. Not only are the market leaders (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon) continuing to grow and thrive, but we’re seeing significant streaming offers from most broadcast and cable market leaders, including CBS, HBO, Viacom, Fox, and Disney. Cable and satellite subscriptions are flat or declining (depending upon how you read the stats), but clearly younger viewers see relatively little reason to sign up at all.
The native online video world is exploding as well, with an impressive amount and quality of original programming – certainly from the aforementioned streaming market leaders – but also from what used to be thought of as the YouTube ecosystem, a content environment which is getting quite complex with new platforms and models for content, whether it’s YouTube itself (with a new subscription model), Vimeo originals, BuzzFeed, Facebook video, Snapchat and Vine, and live streamers like Periscope and Meerkat. Or even old-school content providers like the NY Times are becoming more video-centric.
All of this is being driven by increased mobile consumption of video content, which is perfect for “snackable” short-form video we associate with UGC, but increasingly is the screen of choice for longer-form content as well. Millennials don’t seem to need giant surround sound home systems, maybe because they don’t have giant homes or incomes to support those kind of form factors. Mobile screen sizes are approaching iPad mini size, perfectly adequate for most video viewing. Even geezers like me watch everything in the morning on my iPad mini while the coffee kicks in, before I move to the computer and on my iPhone when in line or bored.
Business-wise, the hot hot hot trend is virtual reality. 2015 was the year of exploding awareness within the content creation and tech communities, with events like VRLA ballooning from a meetup to a giant trade show in less than a year. Everyone is scrambling to find their niche as we wait for the consumer rollout of Oculus and the other high-end VR head mounted displays. Even next year, there won’t be many sold, but unlike the failed Google Glass or AR experiments of a few years ago, full-featured VR experiences are blowing people’s minds. I worry a bit about low-end VR experiences like Google Cardboard providing the first experience for many, because that’s a bit underwhelming as a visual or storytelling experience.