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Will online media ever shut out print and television as sources of news and entertainment? The answer to that question is a resounding, “maybe.”
The Internet has done a great job of gobbling up print media through its ability to share timely news, information, and classified ads.
As far back as 2008, Bill E. Ford, President and CEO of General Atlantic, saw the possibilities in digital media. “One of the biggest shifts that we’ve been focused on is the shift from offline to online media,” he said in an interview with Financial Times. “We have several investments taking advantage of that trend.”
Those investments include the digital publishing platform Vox Media, Snap (the company that owns Snapchat), and Buzzfeed.
But digital media still has some distance to go before it catches up with television in the sheer hours of media consumed.
According to recent surveys, people spend more than four hours a day watching TV but approximately an hour a day on Facebook.
The difference, arguably, is video, and digital platforms are picking up the pace on producing just such material.
Social media giant Facebook is working on the premise that video is the digital space trend of the future. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said he believes that within five years, most of what people consume online will be video. At that pace, online video ads could give Facebook a good shot at competing for dollars currently spent on television advertising.
“People are creating and sharing more video, and we think it’s pretty clear that video is only going to become more important,” Zuckerberg said. As a result, Facebook is going to a “video first” mentality, prioritizing video content across its apps and taking steps to make it easier for people to express themselves through enhancements such as live video.
However, a big challenge to digital media is quality. People are still largely turning to television for news and information, probably because of an underlying belief that TV is a more reliable and trustworthy source than social media.
General Atlantic Vice President Zack Kaplan, who serves on the Board of Directors of Vox Media, said in a recent article, “For digital content companies, success will increasingly require a prioritization of quality programming and meaningful journalism over commoditized and replicable clickbait; the creation of content that sustainably and uniquely captures real consumer time—not unique visitors, clicks, page views, video views, or swipes.”
The market is already reflecting the need to move to high-quality online media. In 2016, MLB Advanced Media agreed to pay $50 million a year through 2023 for League of Legends streaming rights. League of Legends generated more than 360 million hours of live consumption per year.
“Continued strategic investment is following brands and platforms that can similarly capture this kind of consumer attention,” Kaplan said. “Time is the metric that links big deals in the market.”
Online media platforms will need to invest real money to bring that higher-quality content and programming to their users. This will cause users to spend more time on their platforms over those of the competition. Twitter is experimenting with live sports, and Snap is working with TV broadcast networks to produce original and exclusive shows. Only time will tell how Twitter and Snap do in the face of digital behemoths like Amazon and Netflix, who are already making a great deal of high-quality, original content.
But the movers and shakers of the world’s digital platforms aren’t the only ones who need to understand the value of capturing viewers’ time through high-quality video and reliable news and information. Investors also need to understand the changing landscape of digital media and the growing online video trend in order to make strategic and profitable investments, both today and in the future.