Technology is [supposed to be] all about making life easier, and home video has never really made large progress in user interface. Half of the population can’t figure out the hardware, and the other half are too busy deciding what to watch, rather than actually watching video. This has left a huge sector of recommendations, indexing and content discovery empty…until now.
Platforms are still fragmented with major wars for viewers going on between services. Linear programming versus traditional releases are being studied carefully, and Netflix and studios are doing everything they can to keep the public’s subscription fees coming. The scene is ripe for innovation, and in the next 5 years, home video will look completely different than it does today.
The Video Revolution In Your Home
The TV still remains the focus, despite more screens being added in the home. Comcast is making deals with internet based video services to bring content directly to your hardware, so you’ll see cable boxes disappear. Once Comcast completes this, it will save hundreds of dollars in set-top related fees for consumer. Cord cutting had already become the norm, and the next area people are frustrated with is content discovery and recommendations.
Games, VR and fully immersive content will come into your living room.
Pornhub, Netflix, McDonald’s and many other companies are all betting that VR could be the future of home video. They’re already creating content that pushes this evolution forward.
Ask any Hollywood executive and they’ll tell you that from inception, big budget movies, TV and games (and now VR) are created together from the start, especially in the superhero world. In the future, expect fully immersive experiences where viewers becomes characters in the game and movies. Plots will be decided by choices your character makes, and feature films will completely evolve. This already exists for some of the large classic feature films.
I spoke to Leonid Belyaev, co-founder of Zeen, a content discovery platform based out of Silicon Valley. He’s been in the VoD tech for years and weighs in.
Leonid says on the topic, “We’ve seen very successful movie and TV productions originating from comic books (Marvel, etc.) or games (Warcraft, Pokemon). Platforms like Twitch allow you to watch a game in super HD quality that already looks like a movie. This is the evolution of storytelling, and there’s no end to it in sight.”
“Imagine yourself experiencing a movie from within VR glasses, or even a VR suit with activity sensors. Or better, imagine yourself being one of the heroes or creating a hero, like playing Minecraft from the inside. This could bring new experiences to travel, nature and discovery programs.”
How Wearables Will Recommend Video Content
Wearables will recommend content in the future as well. As wearable and sensor tech evolves, video content publishers are making strong ties with them. Any wearable that includes mental state or mood signal may be helping to predict content in the future. If the future of wearables is anywhere near what industry experts predict, they’ll affect our lives in a much bigger way than predictive video recommendations.
Leonid explains. “Based on your level of excitement compared to your usual level, content get be recommended. If you’re too excited, you might be interested in more mellow type of video content, and vice versa.”
“A good example of a starting point with wearables would be the “Are you still watching?” that Netflix serves after a certain time of inactivity with the platform. A simple wearable detecting your proximity to the device and movement of your body, could make that message obsolete.”
The TV App Paradigm Change
Through many so called “paradigm shifts” tech innovators and predictors get it wrong. Apps don’t have the wide adoptive acceptance the tech industry thought they would. This is because at the end of the day, people don’t want to work at TV.
I asked Leonid what role will apps and mobile have for the traditional TV box.
“There’s a famous Tim Cook quote about the future of TV being apps. What’s disturbing about that, is you imagine your big nice TV and you on the sofa, and a screen full of apps. It isn’t a good user experience. TV is supposed to be a relaxing activity. When Google first went into TV it was a flop because no one wants to have to work to watch TV.”
“It’s a nice big TV in your living room, but it’s broken inside.”
TV is a great piece of technology, but it lacks some basic innovations that are already a commodity for computers and phones. Like easy online connectivity, data storage, easy navigation and voice commands.
Imagine the future when your TV has tailored programming just for you. This will be based on the explicit and implicit signals that you sent to it using the discovery tool on your smartphone, watch and current events. I don’t think that any algorithm or AI can fit everything in one channel. Think about content in waves, each one representing a video channel similar to Spotify’s playlist.
You can discover the waves and jump through them easily with a tap or sound or gesture. The big challenge remains though – how to make this experience work given the tough economic rules of Hollywood and TV. No one owns all the content and no one probably ever will. There’s a place for some kind of global content distribution platform, the one that doesn’t exist yet. Lots of exciting things are going to happen, we are at the very beginning right now.
Linear TV programming is arguably the best user experience. It’s not a lot of choices, but it was programmed for you. Now there are too many choices and no one wants to deal with that. Recommendations will need to get better, more sensitive and most importantly invisible. People want to consume TV as a product. In the future you’ll be able to see anything, just by paying for it.