By 2017, Things Will Probably Be Better Than This Optimistic Study Says

 A new study from eMarketer predicts there will be 204.6 million digital viewers in the U.S. by 2017, which it calculates as 78.1% of all Internet users and 62.7% of the general population.  

That’s all?

Obviously that’s a boatload of viewers, but I suspect that if anything, those stats will be low, excluding the possibility that some other delivery device or type of entertainment will emerge in the next few years.

But with connected TVs and OTT boxes coming on strong, digital viewing has a lot of growing up to do, and a way to do it quickly.

Media advances tend to build on themselves, almost just by hanging in there.

There might be some way to explain it but, in my mind early adopters aren’t such great promoters.They’re often too far off to the edge to be useful, but just useful enough to keep some nascent technology afloat until cheaper or better equipment/content arrives on the scene.

That entices a second set of early adopter wannabes and creates enough bulk that an industry can grow and truly market itself to the masses.

Online video has reached that point and beyond, thanks to Netflix (and Kevin Spacey), YouTube (and Machinima and Maker Studios and VEVO), the convenience of Hulu and generally, the perceived dunderheadedness of entrenched media, who might not be such idiots, really, because they already own some of the Internet’s major brands or are easily in position to do so when this gravy gets just a little thicker.

The study says, optimistically, that “virtually all of the short-form, made-for-Web content on YouTube and other venues is ad-supported. The same is true of full-length TV shows on Hulu and Hulu Plus.”

And in fact, any one of many content producers could help streaming video take its biggest steps if they more fully and more cleverly integrated their on air product with their online distribution capacity. They don’t do it too much, I suspect, because they don’t want to offend affiliates or cable operators, or risk demonstrating to advertisers just where the future is headed when they still can’t charge enough for it.  It’s not, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” It’s more like, “It’s breaking. Let’s ride it out.”

So right now, according to eMarketer, there are less than 20 major made-for-Internet productions available from Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.  

That’s a pretty narrow shopping aisle that doesn’t count a lot of smaller (and larger) offerings all over the place, but right now, 182.5 million Americans  consider themselves digital viewers, which is  about 58% of the population and 75% of all Internet users.

In this study eMarketer quotes a study AYTM Market Research  that says “just” 37.1% of domestic internet users “would consider paying for a streaming service if it had exclusive rights to a show they were interested in watching.” 

Man! “Just” about 4 in 10 people?  That’s spectacular. I’ll take that lousy market any day. And that’s a stat from 2013, when there still aren’t many examples of “exclusive” shows to choose from.

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