The European Publishers Council has released its Global Media Trends 2015 report for the fourth year running, with findings dedicated to online video, a sector which, the report acknowledges, has been ‘exploding’ in recent years.
The EU Digital Single Market is one of the top priorities for the Juncker Commission, to incentivise access to online media and creative content services online and across borders, the report states. Consumers now have access to a greater choice than ever of OTT content from broadcast channels, however the main EU law in this area – the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMS) is undergoing a “REFIT exercise” this year, the report continues.
It is the Council’s belief that when it comes to such EU policy, ‘any online press and news media activity must remain free to continue to operate according to standards and conditions that characterise the free press, online as in print, and notably, free from government interference.’ The Council stresses the importance of openness of platfroms to ‘support media plurality and the role of self-regulation in media regulation’.
Online video growth is, the Council says, ‘an unmistakable, irreversible and exciting trend’, and the Report incorporates interviews with video publishers, and draws on a number of surveys and case studies to help identify trends in media product innovation, as well clarify the challenges and opportunities media organisations face.
Computer users consumed 300 billion videos per month in August 2014, with an average of 202 videos and an average of 952 minutes per viewer per month. Viewers are demanding different kinds of experiences depending on the device they are using to consume content, be it a mobile, tablet, desktop or laptop computer. They demand ‘engagement and interaction’: “They don’t want TV on the web. They want something they feel a connection to, therefore, what they will share with their networks,” said Inga Thordar, front page editor for bbc.co.uk. According to Cisco/VNI’s Mobile Forecast, video will be responsible for a data transfer growth of 75 per cent globally from 2012 to 2017.
The Report pinpoints a number of drivers for the growth of video, including reduction of cost barriers for devices, reduction of bandwidth barriers, reduction of skill barriers as camera become more sophisticated, and proliferation of video publishing infrastructure.
However, the Report also states that television remains the number one media and number one advertising spend recipient in nearly every market in the world. Global TV viewers spent an average of 2.5 hours watching TV per day from, 2012 to 2014, compared to just over 30 minutes watching online TV in the same time period. The increase in the popularity of online content means that that ‘While online television won’t replace traditional TV any time soon, it will be a competitor for audiences and for advertising budgets for the foreseeable future.’
The ‘ideal’ length of content is also changing: from the traditional TV programmes of 30 minutes or more, to news updates and DIY videos of a few minutes. ‘Video producers and executives interviewed for this report are developing the majority of videos under two minutes, long form videos between six minutes and ten minutes, and beyond for TV-episode type content’ the Report states. According to Ooyala’s Video Index Report, cited in the Council’s document, ‘the generalised conclusion is, the larger the screen, the more time spent viewing longer-length video.’
The Report also examines trends in video viewing around the world. Mobile and tablet viewing, for example, has increased 400 per cent from 2012 to 2014, from 6 per cent in January 2012 to more than 30 per cent in September 2014. Ooyala, which produced the annual report cited by the Council, predicts mobile and tablet video viewing will represent at least 50 per cent of video viewing by 2016.
‘The regulators will need to be vigilant when considering the impact of new players entering the audiovisual content market, to ensure that there is some symmetry and a clear level playing field between rules applying to competing services from non-media players, and non-European companies,’ says the Council’s Report. ‘The viewer who will access content through a connected TV set, mobile device or by using various platforms won’t be aware of the mode of delivery, whether by terrestrial transmission, according to a schedule, by the internet and/or on-demand. “Online” no longer means “on a computer” — it increasingly means on a smartphone or tablet via Apps, via a games console, or a set-top box.’