Here’s what I think is going to happen in the next 12 months, based on nothing but a hunch. Do with it what you will…
Google buys Twitter.
Google can’t just abandon the social era.
That means it either has to try again to build its own social network or acquire one. Google+ was a disaster despite a major effort, so I can’t see them eager to go down that road again – social just isn’t in their DNA.
I think they buy Twitter instead. And whether Google buys them or not, I think Twitter is highly undervalued and poised to have a big bounceback year.
Bonus prediction: If Google buys Twitter, I think they buy Medium too. This would corner the short form and long form social market for them as well as give them a foothold on the tech/influencer crowd that populates both networks.
A Google/Twitter/Medium social product could be nicely positioned as the “intelligent” social network when compared to the more lowbrow Facebook.
Media companies dependent on traditional advertising nosedive.
If your company relies on non-digital, non-data-driven advertising, you’re headed for a rough year. TV commercials, newspaper ads, and print advertising are too easy to tune out and faces competition from more effective social and data-driven ad options.
This isn’t a new trend, but this year media companies that haven’t developed new revenue streams will take a much bigger hit.
Sirius becomes mini-Netflix.
Howard Stern reupping with Sirius was a huge deal and not just because it keeps satellite radio alive. The real value of the deal will come when they release a new video streaming app, which has the potential to reinvent the company’s business.
Much has changed since the days when Howard TV was delivered as pay-per-view through cable operators and the world has now proven it’s much more willing to pay for subscription streaming services. With the genius of Howard Stern leading the programming charge, why can’t Sirius evolve into a miniature version of Netflix?
Mediocre is no longer good enough.
We’re overloaded with media options – too many movies, TV series, songs, books, websites, podcasts, social networks, and other options competing for our attention. As a result, the bar is raised for what we consume.
Mediocre will no longer be enough to capture the attention of the masses – whatever you create will have to be amazing (and buzzworthy) to succeed.
Big podcasts get bigger, small podcasts get lost.
Podcasts will go more mainstream and overall podcast audiences will grow. This will be driven by innovation in the space that will make it easier for casual users to discover and access podcasts.
We’ll also see innovative ways to make podcasts more social – the ability to share clips or take advantage of social platforms where podcasts currently don’t get much traction.
But the audience growth will mainly benefit the biggest podcasts – the small ones will find it tougher to build a following. It will be similar to what happened to blogs – as the big got bigger, the small got buried.
Facebook becomes the Internet.
The story of the Internet in the past couple years has been Facebook’s ability to drive traffic to the rest of the web. But Facebook’s emphasis on native video and its rollout of things like Instant Articles have pushed us into a new era where the social platform clearly wants to keep people (and their content) within its walls.
I’m not sure this is a good thing (probably not), but I am sure it’s happening. At this time next year, we’ll access less outside of Facebook than we do today.
Apple’s magic is gone.
The Apple Watch and Apple Music launches this year were borderline disasters, but the company’s rep for innovation remains relatively unscathed. But I see another rough year ahead for them that will include realizations that both the Watch and Music are even worse than people think at the moment.
This may cause them to panic a bit and try to do something out of character – maybe an unexpected acquisition – that will also flop.
Apple’s success was about a lot more than Steve Jobs, but it’s still not the same company without him.
Virtual reality will be a big thing…until it isn’t.
We’re going to hear a lot about VR in 2016 and every company will have a different definition of what it actually is. But they will all present it as game-changing media technology.
But, it won’t be.
It will be ok. Some people will like it, and for some things (like games?) it will be industry-changing. But people won’t take to it the way most media companies believe they will.
I expect it to be similar to 3D technology – cool that first time you see it in Avatar, but ultimately not something the masses care enough about to wear glasses for.