2015 was a year of revolution when viewed through the lens of the television technology landscape – the dam didn’t just crumble, it burst right open. At the start of the year, CBS’s Les Moonves called the traditional ratings mantra of Nielsen’s overnights “virtually useless now,” and by the end of the year, Fox became the first of the major networks to can them altogether in order to focus on Live+3 and Live+7 viewership numbers, as well as digital distribution. This has seismic implications: audience measurement finally needs to catch up with the fast-paced changes in how audiences consume media, and valuation needs to encapsulate a much wider array of metrics. Not just views, either but engagement -- and ultimately, passion and advocacy -- are going to be real currency in this new world.
In 2016, as audiences gravitate further towards time-shifted viewing and watch their favorite shows days after the first broadcast or binge-watch whole series in a couple of days, monitoring total consumption will become vital to ascertain true viewership and value media properties appropriately. The schedule will become further divided between live event viewing – comprised of sports, awards shows, competition series and, to some extent, news – and content suited to on-demand, such as scripted shows and sitcoms.
As viewership bifurcates, so will the User-Generated Content (UGC) space. There’s going to be a further shift towards content creation across social media platforms, which have been traditionally used as avenues to comment on — and repost — content, rather than as a way to originate rich content. Facebook and Twitter are shifting to be more video-friendly – providing avenues outside of YouTube for video content to live, and a substantial sunk base of users to quickly generate marketing clout and eyeballs. This will feed in to the new syndication method of UGC content perfectly - instead of creators creating content for YouTube and posting via their social networks to drive viral promotion, all they will have to do is upload to the social network directly.
As the networks work to solve the monetization problem on their end, Facebook and the other social networks will have to figure out how they are going to compensate their content creators and notable talent. When that domino falls – and it will, it has to – look for a palpable shift in the amount of original content on Facebook, especially. The share will matter, but it will matter differently. Instead of most shares being comprised of content from brands, there will be a healthy mix of UGC and external content. That’s trackable. If it’s trackable, it can be monetized.
As the networks move away from live ratings and social networks move towards better content publishing and monetization strategies, you’ll have the networks create more programming that encourages a live reaction, real-time share, or video creation, which will in turn be syndicated on a social network. This, in turn, will drive the new version of ratings forward – people will be further encouraged to participate in that content. The monetization piece will inevitably follow.