Feature Story

The future of video: A tale of two TVs

by Blake Snow

The future of video: A tale of two TVs

What might TV look like by the year 2027? Experts believe the majority of television will take place online.

As you could probably tell from the increasing amount of on-demand Netflix and consumer-generated YouTube you probably already watch, "TV" has changed dramatically in the last five years.

For example, online video will account for 80% of all web traffic by the turn of the decade, according to one estimate. And a third of total internet time is now spent watching videos, reports HubSpot.

Interestingly, total video consumption has remained at 36 hours a week over the last five years, according to Nielsen—at least among 18–24 year old viewers. During the same period, however, the shift from "traditional TV" (think: live cable broadcasts and reruns in your living room) to "online video" (think: YouTube, Amazon, and Netflix anywhere) couldn't be any more dramatic.

See also: Virtual Reality—the next big storytelling medium?

In 2011, for instance, 18–24 year olds watched 26 hours of traditional TV compared to 10 hours of online video. Today, that same demographic consumes just 10 hours of traditional TV versus 26 hours of online video.

"I've never seen such a rapid change in video consumption," says Gideon Gilboa, director of product marketing for Cisco's service provider video business. "On demand content on Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, and Google Play along with user-generated and bite-sized content on YouTube, Twitter, and Snapchat have swung the pendulum in favor of IP video."

There is one glaring exception to this shift, however—live event television such as sports, news, and reality TV. Take Superbowl 51, for example. More than 98% watched the game around a living room TV, Gilboa says. "Just 1.5% watched online."

This is because online video doesn't scale as well as broadcast television, Gilboa explains. Indeed, few people actually turn to Facebook Live, Twitter Live, or even YouTube Live today when it comes to watching or streaming live events.

That's because online video still doesn't have the infrastructure, bandwidth, security, advertising, and provider controls in place to push live television to millions of people and gazillions of devices at once.

Online video will account for 80% of all web traffic by the turn of the decadeEnter Cisco Infinite Video, a new online service that hope to make your premium TV subscription available anywhere on any device to the same number of 111 million people that broadcast TV reached. "With our pedigree of encoding, networking, securing, analyzing, and delivering rich and compelling video, we might be one of the only technology enablers capable of making IP video as good or better than broadcast TV when it comes to watching live sports, news, and reality shows," Gilboa says.

See also: Meet the Exec: Rowan Trollope

Obviously other technology providers are working hard to help professional and live content producers better compete with on-demand and user-generated staples like Netflix and YouTube. But new cloud platforms have a long way to go before delivering on their promise.

And more than just overtaking traditional TV, the next wave of online video ultimately hopes to provide an even better viewer experience. That includes things such as better video quality, more relevant (if not shorter) ads, mutually agreed upon ways of circumventing those pesky "blackout" broadcasts, and the holy grail of online video—being able to take, pause, fast-forward, and rewind your TV on all of your devices wherever you go; not just between screens at home.

So what might TV look like by Superbowl 61 (aka the year 2027)? "With the speed of change over over the last 2-3 years, no one knows how TV will look five years from now, let alone 10," Gilboa says. "But I believe the victors will quickly move to cloud and agile development to meet both consumer demand and provider supply."

By then he also expects the majority of TV—not just on-demand and user-generated—will take place online. Ads and content will be personalized, viewers will freely take their programming to whichever device they want, and "augmented reality will somehow be involved," he predicts in a nod to one of this year's top tech trends.

One thing that will not change: "The strength and power of TV as a social event that brings people together," he concludes. "New technology will surely maintain and enhance that timeless experience."


The contents or opinions in this feature are independent and may not necessarily represent the views of Cisco. They are offered in an effort to encourage continuing conversations on a broad range of innovative technology subjects. We welcome your comments and engagement.

We welcome the re-use, republication, and distribution of "The Network" content. Please credit us with the following information: Used with the permission of http://thenetwork.cisco.com/.