The Unsurprising News That Online Video Is Taking Over

By now, you’ve probably heard that ZenithOptimedia today announced, to the utter surprise of nobody this side of Leslie Moonves, that the number of people watching “conventional” TV will peak this year as online video overtakes it by 2016. 

There is only one reaction to that news that seems logical: To realize you though it happened a few years ago.

ZenithOptimedia actually did a two-fer: It also declared that based on what’s happening now, it’s a sure thing that next year will be the first time online viewing via mobile devices surpasses online viewing on bigger things.

Those are monumental occasions that each will pass without much more than a few dozen more stories like this one. 

Television next January will still be unveiling its “second season” and laptops will still serve up billions of videos. But every milestone passed helps to solidify mass opinion. The shorthand for both of these events will be that “nobody” watches TV or uses anything bigger than a tablet anymore when, of course, that’s totally crazy. But the conversation is changing.



Even the lack of conversation is changing. Mobile advertisers have learned that mobile viewers often are in places where playing videos with the sound up is crude, rude or just awkward. So now, a whole new developing art of the silent, and short, commercial is coming around. 

And even that gets confusing because as more and more people use mobile devices for viewing more of them will be prepared at all times to take incoming mobile video with headphones so that sound will be perfectly fine, or society will just get used to it. But that also imagines the time I hope is still far off that couples and families spend all of their time removed from talking with each other, or not twatching with each other. Yes, it happens now. Someday (2017?) will it happen more often than not?

The number of linear TV viewers will grow by 3.1% in 2015, the report says, and then reduce by 1.9% in 2016 and 0.9% in 2017. ZenithOptimedia is not the only smart factory that has deduced this trend; no doubt, it’s why CBS, HBO, Comcast and even Verizon have begun to react the new rapidly approaching reality.

Last in line might be the ad business itself, figuring a way for marketers to serve so many different markets with differentiated products and messages, from the length of commercials to even the form they take. If you looked at the media landscape in 2000, you could have scarcely predicted what it would look like less than two decades later. I have a feeling if you look at the video market in 2015, it will look nothing like that in 2020.
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