For many, online video has become a part of our daily lives. It's become so pervasive that it's the talk around the water cooler and every day a new meme is captured by a camera and uploaded and shared with millions and millions of people around the world. Online video has become a part of the cultural zeitgeist, a reference point propelled by politicians, aspiring artists, protesting citizens and individuals who want their voices heard. In short, online video has overcome country boundaries and language barriers; it has intertwined disparate ideas and fundamentally connected and changed the world.
With five years gone since we first started YouTube, here are five themes for the next five years that will fundamentally change video as we know it:
- Online video will die. Long live video - Five years ago, online video was known for being poor quality, and slow to playback. Today, there are two types of video: online and offline. Internet usage grew nearly 400% in the first decade of the 21st century and it's only increasing. Innovation around personal WiFi devices are among the technologies propelling projections of over 1 billion WiFi devices by 2012. Better, more robust infrastructure and improved computer processing power combined with support for 1080p full-HD and even 3D have pulled online video quality and innovation on parallel with offline video. And that innovation is just accelerating to the point where there the distinction between online and offline video will no longer exist. All there will be is video.
- There will be only one channel - In 1988, there were 26 channels available in the US. In 1998 there were 52. In 2008 there were 110. The number of channels is exploding and sure to reach well into the thousands. But the true tectonic shift is not the number of channels; it's who's programming them. Five years from now there will be one channel that really matters and that is the "Channel of You." The "Channel of You" will be created from hundreds of thousands, if not millions of video sources, representing a wide spectrum of content creators and will reflect who you are and what you're interested in. There will be videos created by friends and family that showcase your cousin's wedding, or your son's graduation. There will be niche videos that speak to your unique interests like scuba diving, video game tips, or car repair. And there will be mass media channels that deliver content created by aspiring independent creators or mainstream studios, sports leagues and record labels.
- Put down the remote. Content will find you - The remote feels easy, but at the end of the day, it's still inefficient. You shouldn't have to search for something to watch. What you want to watch should be delivered directly to you without you having to plug a number in. As search and discovery of video becomes more sophisticated, video will reflect your interests and serve you what like to watch, when you want to watch it. Searching and browsing will be joined by a mix of super-smart algorithmically-driven technology and social signals that allow your friends to share what they are watching.
- Browsers - The sophisticated and robust Web browser of today will live way beyond the PC tomorrow. It will live in more phones and migrate into more living rooms. We will move from a device-specific model to a user-centric one, where your content is available anywhere you can log-in. And content creators and distributors will benefit from the browser's sophisticated ad serving technologies and audience data together with its low delivery costs.
- The creator's rewards will grow - Online video monetization is in its infancy. But as more ad formats and sophisticated transactional models roll out, the content creator will see the rewards for their work grow and these rewards will be delivered to these content creators and distributors unfiltered. An advertiser will be able to micro- or mass target their campaigns, meaning TV ad budgets will shift quickly towards providers who can supply breadth, depth and performance analytics. And contrary to popular belief, consumers will be willing to pay for content so long as it doesn't come with consumption constraints (watch anywhere) and they are able to feel an emotional bond with the content creator. Tools like Twitter and YouTube will help artists create these direct relationships with fans, in some cases shifting the middleman out of the picture.