As I pondered VidCon’s overarching themes for 2017, I kept on coming back to the land grab. Everywhere I looked, I saw consolidation, battles and border wars over ownership and positioning. It’s as if the media world had turned into a great big game of Risk, with everyone fighting over Kamchatka and Greenland.
The big companies keep getting bigger. Even though CBS decided not to buy Viacom — ATT, Time Warner, Comcast and Verizon all made significant purchases in 2016. A similar hunger for franchise properties also dominated the news in 2016, as Disney extended its Marvel and Star Wars business, Harry Potter expanded into new theme parks and storylines, Game of Thrones kept on rolling and Netflix expanded several its successful franchises too.
But what will come in 2017? Here are a few predictions for what we’ll be talking about over the next 12 months.
YouTube Starts Looking Like Old Media: With its renewed push for watch time and frequency, YouTube’s algorithm starts to push out the authentic and independent creators that built the business. Big media companies will continue to flourish and ad dollars will accelerate from traditional TV to YouTube. Alphabet’s insistence that YouTube move from “Rising Star” to “Cash Cow” will deliver fantastic quarterly results in 2017, but then a funny thing will happen. The core creators that helped build the popular site will abandon ship. Even though they total less than 5% of overall viewership, this diaspora will begin to leech the magic out of YouTube. By the end of the year Big Red will be in an odd position, as it exceeds its revenue and profit targets handily, but loses its soul.
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