2015 predictions … for the rest of 2015, at least

hbonowas i’m sure you’ve already heard, HBO Now is about to go live exclusively on Apple devices. HBO’s CEO, Richard Plepler, announced that fact at Apple’s most recent event on March 9th. something you might not have heard however – at least not from me, unless you watched or listened to the most recent Film Geeks – is that ESPN is available on devices right now !

apparently DISH announced their new Sling TV app way back in January at the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas and though i’ve been hearing rumors here and there that ESPN was going to be available online, i somehow hadn’t heard about this specifically until one of our members, Steve Brock, showed me his Sling TV app last Wednesday. as of right now, Sling offers 17 of the larger, non-premium cable channels for only $20 a month via this app which requires no cable subscription at all.

there you have it. HBO and ESPN, the last two packaged cable hold-outs, one of them already available without a cable subscription and the other about to be any day now. so what does that mean for the rest of the year? it’s obviously an excellent time for consumers, but not necessarily for owners of cable networks. no matter how to you look it, it’s impossible to imagine that packaged cable is going to survive in it’s current form, and it’s more than likely that 2015 is going to be the year that everything changes. not to put too fine a point on it, but it’s about to be a blood bath, people!

but what about us independent content creators? how will we be effected?

slingwell, that depends on several different factors. i’ve written and spoken a lot in the past about what i think independent content creators should be doing right now to make sure they’re best situated to take advantage of opening opportunities in the coming months, but what are the different ways that the industry is bound to change during that time? having a solid understanding of those developments – or rather the ability to make an educated guess about what will happen – should be extremely helpful in navigating these waters and to take advantage of these coming changes.

to that end, here are my predictions for the rest of 2015:

  • YouTube’s growth will continue at it’s current pace (hours watched per month goes up 50% year over year), and more and more YouTube stars will cross-over into more “mainstream” entertainment.
  • after a slow initial trickle away from packaged cable throughout the spring and summer, adoption of online-only services will pick up more and more speed during fall and early winter until total households with cable drops to around 80 million by the beginning of 2016.
  • by the end of 2015, at least 50% of the major cable networks in the US will be available on some kind of cable-free package.
  • some tech company – either already established or startup – will offer a viable alternative to the Nielsen ratings which will also include either actual or analyzed numbers from the various online and streaming services. this will begin to alter the way advertising dollars are spent.
  • as advertising dollars drift away from the major networks, layoffs will continue and more and more networks’ execs and staff will move to other industries. at the same time networks will continue their incremental shift of resources and personnel away from broadcast and towards production.
  • HBO will continue to dominate the Primetime Emmys, Netflix’s nominations will grow even more in all the dramatic categories and Tina Fey’s show will get it at least a couple in the comedic as well. the networks, on the other hand, will have the smallest percentage of “primetime” drama nominations in the history of the awards.
  • after Taylor Swift’s stunt to make her album one of just two to go platinum in 2014, other bands will try to do the same, but most – if not all – will fail. in fact, i’d put the odds at 50/50 that ZERO albums go platinum in 2015.
  • a handful of intrepid independent financiers from either the tech or finance sectors will move into television production for the first time, a few of which will even greenlight entire series before a distributor is on-board.

so by December we’ll see if i’m right with any of my predictions, but whether i’m right or wrong, the last eight months of 2015 are guaranteed to be a fascinating year for the entertainment industry.