The story of entertainment is inextricably linked to the story of technology. Look at Netflix's stellar growth, fuelled first by the fast spread of DVDs in the early 2000s and then by the adoption of in-home wireless internet.
By 2010, Netflix had gone from being the fastest-growing customer of the United States Postal Service's first-class service, to the largest source of evening internet streaming traffic in North America.
Changes in the way data can be distributed and accessed have shaped the entertainment industry, giving rise to cord-cutting and the emergence of a new generation of content giants. Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video have forced traditional networks to up their game from a programming, digital experience and pricing standpoint.
Mobile has risen
The next technological standard – 5G – will trigger an entertainment revolution, with the mobile screen earning its stars as a premium entertainment device of its own right.
With 2.8 billion users, mobile is the first screen globally, and Warc predicts it will overtake TV this year in global advertising expenditure. (Desktop digital spend never made above two-thirds of TV’s expenditure.)
But as a result of current mobile data capacity limitations, and our collective lack of imagination, the delivery system for mobile experiences (the app) is currently geared toward functionality and convenience.
Entertainment on mobile has been an afterthought so far: phones were best for text (or second-screen commentary to entertainment viewing on the TV screen), then best for still images. But we know audiences want the full entertainment experience on their phones, especially since 10% of global Netflix viewing is on mobile. The propositions in that space just haven’t taken off yet, and the data capacity hasn’t been reliably good enough.
This will all change in the next two-to-three years, as 5G multiplies mobile internet speed, and entertainment creators will start to think mobile first. Forget self-driving tractors and remote surgery: the next cellular wireless standard will allow affordable and reliable video streaming from mobile phones everywhere.
The average time spent watching video on mobile already grew from 37 minutes in 2017 to 60 minutes in 2018, according to eMarketer. The growth of 5G will seal the fate of mobile as the next entertainment paradigm, ushering in a new wave of experiences properly catering for audiences’ desire to watch quality video content designed for, not just adapted to, their phones. From BBH LA’s West Hollywood vantage point, here is a sneak peek into the mobile entertainment future:
- Silver screen budgets for the mobile screen. Launching in April of 2020, Quibi brings together A-list Hollywood and Silicon Valley talent to create extraordinary IP specifically for mobile. This means writing, shooting, and editing for on-the-go moments (a ‘Quibi’ will be five-to-seven minutes), and a developer’s team dedicated to ‘script-to-screen’ innovation, to best cater to the mobile viewing experience, including aspect ratio, brightness, interactivity;
- Next-generation user-generated content. TikTok, the short-form video app with videos lasting 15-60 seconds, can at first glance look chaotic and manic. But the reality is that by baking editing capabilities into the platform and merging them with augment reality, TikTok has created a one-stop destination for creativity and expression. With 500m+ global MAUs, it’s coming hot on the heels of yesteryear’s social platforms.
It’s been a while since storytellers truly had to adapt to a new media standard. And some purists might say the silver screen remains the only truly artistic medium, and that the innovation TV and digital video brought along has been of the commercial, plebeian kind.
While mobile phones won’t replace movie theaters, we’re excited to see what creators might do with a new canvas and palette of functionality - informed, intimate, and mobile. Whether or not all of Hollywood choose to embrace it, the people of the mobile web certainly will.
Agathe Guerrier is head of strategy for BBH LA