Pity the journalists trained in traditional TV, who, after the COVID pandemic, have to face a Viral Media landscape that has changed the ballgame, the playing field, and the rules.

Now I understand why none of VideoAge‘s experienced contributors wanted to write the story that was eventually published on the front cover of our November 2023 edition.

It was because even though the topic resembled television business (in the sense that it was about TV content), the subject also wandered into a new entertainment environment engulfed in an unfamiliar ecosystem known as Viral Media.

The topic concerned the migration of video content from Social Media to OTT platforms, and the headline read: “The New Trend: Migrating from Social Media to OTT,” which is something that’s easier said than done. In the piece, we covered vertical videos for smartphones that are being adapted for a horizontal medium like TV. We also covered “billions” of viewers and millions of new TV talents that are feeding millions of TV channels. The story also touched on the topic of moving from the comfort of cable channels to the uncertainty of streaming ecosystems, getting away from a universe where viewers could access one cable system and one satellite operator per area to a place with hundreds of aggregators compete in each home. Plus, the report explained a type of business model based on a revenue share (or rev-share as it is usually called) model that is different from the traditional linear TV model.

Forget about minimal guarantees or license fees for content, now everything is based on speculation and hopes, which in effect had always been the way of artists (why do you think they’ve always been called starving artists?)… and producers, until the TV business became so stable and predictable as to be able to actually “commission” film and TV projects. Viral Media is a whole different ballgame!

I had an inkling that big changes were coming last year while in Singapore for the Asia TV Forum. Call it hindsight, or missing the boat. While having breakfast at my hotel, I saw an Asian couple dining with their daughter, who looked to be about eight years old. She was standing off to the side of their table, dancing while looking into a cell phone, presumably filming herself for a video that would eventually be uploaded to some form of Social Media. Her parents continued eating, completely oblivious to her actions.

That same day, during dinner at Singapore’s popular Lau Pa Sat, a Victorian -style food court, I saw another girl, this time not older than 12, holding an iPhone and recording herself jumping around by her table while her adult companion, perhaps her mother, dined quietly by herself.

Those occurrences made me realize, definitely much later than I should have, that seismic changes were brewing in the television business in the form of those videos going viral in a new media ecosystem.

At the same time, I started to notice that videos of kids that looked freakishly similar to those dancing girls in Singapore were appearing on daytime and afternoon talk shows in the U.S., and finally, at MIPCOM 2023, the fall TV market held in Cannes, VideoAge was contacted by an avalanche of companies touting their viral and streaming services.

Traditional television is being overtaken by Viral Media, which is causing traditional TV to lose out while Viral Media is nibbling at traditional TV’s audience.

It’s a strange vicious circle wherein one type of media feeds the other, but while Viral get bigger, traditional gets smaller. Then there are all the acronyms like FAST, AVoD, SVoD, etc., each of which has its own business model in a streaming ecosystem that doesn’t resemble the traditional TV business.

VideoAge was finally able to write the report with the help of no fewer than 10 viral media experts and took the printed Issue to MIP Cancun where FAST channels were being highlighted. The review of that market is featured in this edition.

(By Dom Serafini)

Audio Version (a DV Works service)

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