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What’s Next? 12 Brave Predictions For 2016

What’s in store for 2016? We asked our TV[R]EV staff, David Beck, Nick Cicero, Alex Nagler, Jesse Redniss and Alan Wolk to put their heads together and here’s what you can expect in the coming year.

1. MPVDs Start Offering Streaming Services To Their Broadband Customers, Making “Cord-Cutting” and “Cord-Nevering” Irrelevant.  It’s already starting to happen and will pick up speed in 2016. It’s a win-win for everyone: streaming services get the MVPDs selling, marketing and collecting fees for them, MVPDs get to keep broadband customers firmly within their ecosystem where they can try and upsell them, and consumers get one bill, an end to input switching and (quite possibly) a lower price, at least for the first 12 months of a two-year contract.

2. TV Everywhere Takes Off As Nielsen Finally Launches TAM. This is another one where everybody wins. Networks get higher ratings as their viewers have more places to watch. MVPDs get people eating up more bandwidth (which is really how they make their money) and they get higher retention and a chance to ditch the set top box. Consumers get a Netflix-like experience for all the channels they subscribe to. And a chance to avoid the horrible interfaces on the set top boxes as well.

3. Facebook Strikes Multiple Authentication Deals With Major Broadcast Networks And MVPDs.  Facebook has been making moves around video all through 2015. The latest: theme/topic based filters for your feed. We believe Facebook will make a major announcement in 2016 allowing long form simulcast or Video On Demand (VOD) content to be streamed directly into the feed while other major MVPDs follow Dish’s lead and allow Facebook authentication on their TV Everywhere platforms as a legitimate form of authentication.

4. The “Frenemy” Status Of TV Nets And Social Networks Will Become More Contentious. TV Networks have invested tremendous resources to build social audiences, while the social networks themselves are not only directly monetizing these audiences but also more aggressively and directly targeting TV ad dollars.  The damned if you do, damned if you don’t “frenemy” status of TV Networks and Social Networks will become more contentious as ad dollars shift and the distribution noose Social Networks (most notably Facebook) can tighten at a whim become a major focal point.

5. We Will See A Signifiant Increase In M&A Activity In The Social Analytics And Publishing Sector.  The last few years have brought significant maturity to social analytics from more holistic measurement across platforms by companies like Listen First Media and Shareablee, to deep affinity analysis from Affinio, to the development of true and actionable sentiment and emotional analysis from Canvs.  On the publishing side Spredfast and Sprinklr continue to distance themselves from competitors but need to develop more differentiated offerings to drive premium value.  Additionally, the demand for more actionable analytics for marketers and publishers will further fuel interest in M&A in this sector.

6. Snapchat Will Become The Most Popular Vehicle For Branded Content Partnerships.  Snapchat is finally starting to come into its own as a legit platform for video content. With content created by users, by influencers, by publishing partners, and by Snapchat themselves, there are a number of ways that advertisers will be able to tap into this mobile-first and highly engaged audience of video watchers. Brands love it because people are hyper-focused on their phones when they’re looking at Snaps, and the short-term window is actually more of an advantage than most advertisers think today. With the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio about to dominate the media cycle, we’ll see Snapchat stand out as the best mobile storytelling platform of the year.

7. Net Neutrality Will Become An Even Bigger Issue In The 2016 Election. With its recent emergence as an issue in the last Republican debate in light of the San Bernardino shootings, Net Neutrality and the principle of the open web (that underlies all streaming and content serving) will become an even larger issue in 2016 on both parties.

8. TV And Marketing Execs Shift From Asking “What’s eSports” To “What’s Our eSports Strategy?”  eSports is well on its way to becoming the next global sport and while early movers like Turner Sports have placed some bets, ever major media company will be investing in this space.  The growth and engagement of the fan base matched with the live nature of eSports creates a perfect storm of opportunity for marketers looking to shift dollars and content publishers craving live audiences.

9. Churn Baby, Churn. OTT Apps Find Loyalty Is Fleeting: You know all those new network OTT apps? They’re going to be looking at some very high churn rates. (We’re already hearing churn rate numbers of 50% for HBO Now.) It makes perfect sense from a consumer POV: why would you continue a $15/month subscription once you’d binged on the series you want to watch? OTT app consumers are a price sensitive audience and it’s whole lot easier to uncheck a box and unsubscribe than it it to call up Comcast and try and cancel HBO.

10. NBC’s SeeSo Is The Exception: SeeSo actually did something very clever. They added original content to their OTT comedy app. That gives people who are already subscribing to NBC via their pay-TV provider a reason to get the app. And (provided the shows are any good) gives them a reason to keep subscribing.

11. There’s More Original Programming Than Ever Before. Not all 409 original series last year were successful, but enough were to encourage TPTB to keep making more. As binge watching becomes easier and more pervasive, the amount of time people spend viewing the shows they want to watch (versus whatever happens to be on) goes up and that helps new original series to succeed too.

12. Not Every New Original Streaming Series Will Be Designed To Appeal to Affluent Viewers On The Coasts. Shows like Netflix’s Fuller House and others will appeal to a broader demographic as binge watching becomes norm core, not early adopter behavior.