The media landscape is changing and evolving at a rapid pace—to put it mildly. Five years ago, who would have guessed that Warner Bros. would sign a deal to turn its properties into augmented reality entertainment for autonomous vehicles?
It sounds so unbelievable. Yet here we are, legitimately discussing how the Justice League franchise will translate to the windshield of a car that’s driving itself. I mean, c'mon.
With FierceVideo, our newest daily Fierce publication, I will have a chance to cover all the traditional media companies doing traditional things, all the nontraditional media companies doing nontraditional things, and all the countless spaces where those two ideas intersect.
For 2018 in particular, the media industry will continue its march toward IP-based delivery technologies. We’ll see companies like AT&T, Discovery Communications and Sinclair (and possibly more) grow their empires. We’ll watch streaming video continue to proliferate as giants like Netflix keep spending gobs of cash, broadcasters like CBS keep expanding their strategies and virtual MVPDs keep impacting the pay-TV industry.
Of course, there will likely be some stories I’m following more closely than others.
For example, AT&T’s proposed $85 billion merger with Time Warner is prepping to fight for its life against a challenge from the U.S. Justice Department. The DOJ says the deal will give AT&T too much leverage over other distributors, AT&T says it’s nonsense to think it would restrict the reach of Time Warner’s content, and the court could end up having the final say in who’s right.
This fight will cause a ripple effect impacting the media consolidation environment, including Disney’s potential blockbuster deal for a boatload of 21st Century Fox’s assets including its film and TV studios, cable networks, regional sports networks and international assets.
Another key topic in the space is ATSC 3.0, the long-in-the-works suite of next-gen TV technologies, which finally received the go-ahead from the FCC. Sinclair wasted no time in proclaiming its nationwide ambitions for the standards. ATSC 3.0 and its proponents will have to contend with critics wary of broadcast television gathering information on viewers (similar to what Google and Facebook do on the internet) and consumers concerned about the need to buy new equipment to keep watching TV. But the rewards, including new revenue sources from targeted advertising and bandwidth leasing, could make it worth broadcasters’ while.
FierceVideo will also track the persistent proliferation of OTT and streaming services. Disney will roll out its ESPN+ service in 2018 and likely provide more details about its branded streaming service launching in 2019. AMC, A&E, Discovery, Scripps and Viacom will be adding new social features to their streaming service Philo. CBS will be expanding globally and adding more ad-supported streaming channels. Verizon may finally debut its vMVPD. Odds are a few more streaming services will hit the market next year, while existing services continue to hit subscriber and revenue milestones.
Of course, there will be plenty more to cover in terms of retransmission growth, advertising, regulatory, programming, streaming devices, next-gen technologies, emerging standards and more. I can’t promise every story will be as crazy as turning your car into a virtual headset on wheels, but I can promise I’ll be watching the industry every day and bringing as much news and commentary as possible to FierceVideo readers. — Ben | @fierce_video