Media Future of TV North America

2016 TV Year in Review: Alan Wolk, author of 'Over The Top. How The Internet Is (Slowly But Surely) Changing The Television Industry'

By Alan Wolk | Senior Analyst


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December 15, 2016 | 5 min read

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The below post is part of Found Remote's 2016 Year in Review guest post series and is written by Alan Wolk, an independent media analyst and author of “Over The Top. How The Internet Is (Slowly But Surely) Changing The Television Industry."

What TV Will Look Like in 2017: 5 Predictions

1. TV Everywhere Finally Takes Off

It’s hard not to feel like Charlie Brown with the football on this one, but it looks like this is finally going to be the year the MVPDs TV Everywhere (TVE) apps take off. What’s been holding everything up? Nielsen, or more specifically, their Total Audience Management (TAM) platform which measures views on devices other than the set top box. The lack of Nielsen ratings for OTT views meant the networks were scared they’d see significantly lower ratings as TVE became more popular and people watched TV on their smartphones and tablets. That’s why they’ve all been withholding their programming from the MVPD’s TVE apps—if the networks weren’t going to get paid by advertisers for the ads and couldn’t count the viewers in the next round of carriage fee negotiations, they didn’t want anything to do with TVE. But once TAM is in place and all those OTT views are being counted, the networks will be thrilled to let people watch whenever and wherever they want. That means the MVPD TVE apps will finally have access to the same content that’s available via the set top box, including VOD and DVR, which means the MVPDs can really start to double down on promoting them and driving usage. Now if only they could not something about those antiquated interfaces…

2. Live Streaming Goes Pro

Live streaming professional sporting events on platforms like Twitter is a neat party trick but doesn’t really add anything to the experience. The new wave of professionally produced live streamed shows like Mario Armstrong’s “Never Settle” from Roker Media, on the other hand, take full advantage of the “live” aspect of live streaming, bringing the audience into the show. That allows for greater interactivity with both fans and advertisers. Look to see more of these type of high production quality live streamed shows, along with professionally produced live music showcases.

3. Amazon Breaks Out

Facebook may know us as we want to be, but Amazon knows us as we really are. Facebook knows the brands we’ve carefully “Liked” to show our best face to the world. Amazon knows that we buy Palmolive dish soap and Fruit of the Loom boxer shorts twice a month. That sort of data is incredibly useful for advertisers and we’re guessing that Amazon figures out a way to use the data from their Prime Video service to make some money off of it. Just knowing that men 25-54 who watch hockey games prefer Scotties to Kleenex and oatmeal to cream of wheat is going to prove valuable to someone. All Amazon’s got to do is package it in a way that doesn’t seem creepy. (And yes, they do have an ad supported service in addition to Prime. It’s just not very popular. Yet.)

4. Pro-Am Content Becomes TV’s Farm Team

The shrinking cost of high-end cameras and editing equipment is putting the ability to produce professional quality television series into more people’s hands. And somewhere in between PewDiePie and teenagers in their bedrooms and 'Game of Thrones' is the category we call “Pro-Am,” where professional actors, writers and directors are making their own high quality web series. Many of these series are as good as, if not better than, what’s currently on television, and the industry has taken notice: HBO’s acclaimed “High Maintenance” started life as a web series and its success means that there are more to come. We predict Pro-Am will see a life of its own too, creating a story-focused middle ground between Gen-Z YouTube stars and network sitcoms.

5. The Definition of “Television” Finally Expands To Include All The Different Ways People Actually Watch TV

2017 will be the year when the Powers That Be finally accept that television in no longer just the live feed that shows up via your pay-TV set top box. Television is now much broader than that—it’s Netflix and Hulu and Amazon. It’s shows binge watched on VOD or DVR months after they first aired. It’s standalone services like NBC’s Seeso. And the fact is people are watching more of it, in more places than ever before. So while the industry circa 1997 may be gone forever, what’s taken its place in 2017 is far more popular, more vibrant and more exciting. It’s also controlled by (more or less) the same players, TV companies having learned well the lesson of “adapt or die."

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