The Changing Directions of Video

It's bigger than just video consumption...

The digital transformation of video is changing our assumptions about the nature of video, how it is made, what it is for, where it is shown and how it is used.  These changes are reflected in a series of emerging trends that will collectively reshape our economy and culture.  Today, video production is increasingly democratised and decentralised. Video distribution is changing, albeit slowly, from the linear multicast model to a combination of different models, including the rapidly growing on-demand unicast model via multiple channels. Video consumption is becoming ubiquitous, mobile, social and collaborative.

Video collections are increasingly indexed, searchable and interactive, hosted on the Cloud and accessible via the internet.  The boundaries are blurring between producers and viewers, and between professionals and amateurs.  The full revolutionary potential of video has been slow to materialise, but the pace of change is accelerating.  For over half a century, commentators and scholars have been predicting the future of video and its profound social and cultural impact, but only some of them have fully materialised even though they are all technologically possible.

To understand the opportunities and challenges from these and many other emerging changes in video, organisations need to recognise how people produce and use video, what they use video for, who these users are, how they communicate, what they will do next, and importantly, how products, services and brands can be effectively integrated into video, video communication and video-based communities.  Business leaders increasingly need to incorporate video communication as an essential part of their media skill; and review their assumptions about the nature of video, how it is made, where it is shown and how and where it can be used productively and effectively.

Non-Linear and On-Demand, But Linear Broadcast Will Continue to Dominate for Decades

Much of the excitement around video is linked to the meteoric rise of YouTube through user-generated content, and more recently, the growing competition from a plethora of social networking platform firms that are refocusing their strategies on video. See more

Social and Participative: ‘When media change, human relationships change’

The lowering of financial, technical and skill barriers for video production, distribution and consumption means that billions of people around the world today have the ability and means to make a video anywhere anytime, upload it online for the world to see, or live-stream it to their friends, family and the public, through social networking and other video platform sites. See more

Mobile and Ubiquitous

The central theme of the Internet Society Global Internet Report 2015[1] was about the mobile internet, which highlighted the huge benefit for users from the combination of smart devices and full mobility.  According to Cisco forecasts, mobile data traffic will increase tenfold between 2014 and 2019, which is three times faster than fixed IP traffic.[2]  Globally, the number of smartphones alone has exceeded two billion, not counting other digital cameras.


[2]Cisco Visual Networking Index: Forecast and Methodology, 2014-2019.

Interactive and Personalised, but Slow Progress

The blurring boundaries between video producers and consumers, and between professionals and amateurs, combined with the ubiquity of digital cameras, networks, and video editing, uploading and streaming software and services, are creating opportunities to turn video into interactive and personalised experiences, although progress has been much slower than expected. See more

 Immersive and Virtual

The most anticipated – and potentially radical and even revolutionary – change in the direction of video is likely to come from the mass adoption of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) in the next few years.  This could potentially dwarf all the other changes we discussed.  However, there have been numerous unsuccessful attempts over the past 30 years at mass-market VR; and very recently the much hyped Google Glass (an AR gadget) failed commercially even with the backing of the mighty Google.  There is no guarantee that VR and AR will be successfully adopted by the mass public in the near future. See more


This section discussed some significant changes in the direction of video. Today, video is increasingly non-linear and is consumed on demand. Production and consumption are increasingly mobile and ubiquitous.  Video is increasingly interactive and its consumption is personalised.  If AR and VR take off in the next couple of years, video will become increasingly immersive and virtual, and physical objects and environments will increasingly become digitally augmented.

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