The online video industry had a very impressive year. With YouTube's 400 hours of content uploaded every minute and Snapchat and Facebook's 4 billion video views per day (each!), digital video is only getting more popular. While individual milestones are important, so are the overarching trends in the online video industry as it moves forward.
Here are three predictions for where online video is going in 2016, including how television will address the ever-growing presence of digital video in its traditional linear setting.
1. Companies will put more focus on mobile-At VidCon this past year, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said her company was going to work on three things: "Mobile, mobile, mobile." And that makes sense for the Google-owned property, which, according to Wojcicki, now sees 50% of its traffic coming from mobile platforms. Paired with the fact that watch time on YouTube is up 60% since 2014, it stands to reason that focusing on mobile accessibility is the right decision for the online video site.
But it's really the best strategy for all companies dedicating resources and time to digital video. In early fall 2014, comScore's "The U.S. Mobile App Report" found that 60% of the time U.S. users spent using digital media was on mobile apps or the mobile web only. Plus, in April 2015, Google implemented a new ranking algorithm that penalizes sites and online platforms that aren't available in mobile-friendly formats.
Going forward in 2016, any online video business that hopes to stay relevant would be wise to dedicate a good portion of its time to making its content mobile-ready.
2. YouTube networks will become increasingly specialized-Online video has grown at such a rapid pace that the industry hasn't always been able to keep up, especially in terms of niches. After years of lumping all vloggers together, various multichannel video networks started to outgrow themselves. Too many video creators were making too many different types of content to effectively and accurately define what the whole network was "about."
For example, The Walt Disney Co.'s Maker Studios couldn't keep everyone under one roof. Since its inception, the digital video network has branched out into four different subnetworks: geek and gaming (Polaris Network), lifestyle (The Platform), family (Cartoonium and The Mom's View), and entertainment (pretty much everything else, such as Maker Music).
Other niche networks now exist, such as AwesomenessTV's Awestruck network for Millennial moms and Felicia Day's geek culture hub Geek & Sundry. For the last few years, Black&Sexy has been creating content that it claims is "making black people normal." This segmentation will likely continue in 2016 as the online video industry keeps growing.
3. The TV industry will continue to adapt to digital-NBC recently released the entire first season of Aquarius on its website and app, as well as on demand. The network still ran one episode per week as traditional TV schedules usually require, but the move shook the entire television industry. No "normal" TV network would release all 13 episodes of a season at once, would it?
But NBC did, and the unconventional release didn't hurt ratings or audience interest at all. NBC renewed Aquarius, and it has now upped the ante on other traditional television networks. CBS and HBO adapted to digital, too, launching their own subscription services.
This isn't to say all of the television industry will do the same as NBC, CBS, or HBO. But you can be sure TV executives are paying more attention than ever to digital and will continue to do so next year.
Of course, we'll undoubtedly see more trends in the online video industry in 2016. For example, live streaming apps such as Periscope and Meerkat will continue to forge their own paths in content marketing. And more businesses will allot funds to digital video and video advertising, as they have been doing for the last several years. It's hard to pick just a few important aspects of digital video, because the industry is always changing, adapting, and innovating. But that's why it's so exciting.
Here's to a great year for online video in 2016!