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  • Romance readers like affordable books, they read them very quickly and don’t demand high quality
  • Romance readers like affordable books, they read them very quickly and don’t demand high quality
    Kathryn Denman, Creative Commons (2011) ©
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2015 Expert Outlook on Media and Entertainment

How will the growth of self-publishing change the literature we consume? What books will prove popular with teens in 2015? Will internet television change the way we engage with tv and why is Netflix losing its distinction?

Location Global

In the Media and Entertainment chapter of our Expert Outlook 2015 series we speak to Ed Nawotka the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives, Tom Cape the Director of Connected Solutions at Arqiva and Brian Steinberg senior TV editor at Variety.

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Ed Nawotka is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives, an online magazine for the international publishing industry that has been called "the BBC of the book world."

The big story over the last five years has been the massive growth of self-publishing, particularly in genre fiction. Harlequin was one of the first in the digital space, and they killed it from the start. They quickly realised that romance readers like affordable books, they tend to read them very quickly and they don’t demand high quality literature. This is the sector I’ll be watching in 2015.

As the self-publishing market becomes even more sophisticated, we’re going to see a lot of talented people from the traditional business looking to capitalise on it.  Self-publishing has proven that a large audience will pay £3 for a book and if it sucks, who cares? It’s still cheaper than going to the cinema. Readers don’t need the imprimatur of Mills and Boon, they no longer make a distinction between brands. So the way people consume media will continue to change because the cheaper things get, the quicker people dismiss them.

Self-publishing has proven that a large audience will pay £3 for a book and if it sucks, who cares? It’s still cheaper than going to the cinema

Plus the question of multimedia is pressing. When a book is published you think, why am I reading this in book form when this has already been online, the best bits are in magazines and I know the talk shows are going to pick up on the most important talking points? Every form of media is cannibalising every other form of media and book publishing is no different.Publishers are making videos, and pulling music and gaming into their products.

And they’re looking for ways to create interaction with their work. If you look at what Penguin Random House are doing with Stephen Fry’s latest, they are inviting people to remix his book. We’re going to see more in that area. But, at the same time, I’m not sure people necessarily want that. Reading is by and large a passive activity - and a solitary one, at that - so trying to change the way people read will be difficult.

There has been a massive growth in self-publishing There has been a massive growth in self-publishing
Bytegirl, Creative Commons (2013) ©

Younger readers however, want a different experience. Social writing platforms like Wattpad are particularly popular with teens. They call them ‘books’ and say ‘oh I’ve published 822 books’ but that book might be seven pages long.

This is all going to put more pressure on publishers to differentiate themselves. How do they do that? Well it’s tough, but they have to find the best stories going, and the best storytellers.

As for the coming year, I’m interested in social projects as much as I am in publishing brands. I’ll be watching Worldreader’s progress. They are distributing e-books to developing markets. They’re one of the companies successfully leveraging the huge democratising powers of digital.

Penguin Random House’s project, My Independent Bookshop, is also very interesting. It’s curated, it’s interactive, it’s got a lot of users. It’s essentially a competitor for Goodreads. Any of the subscription services are going to be worth watching closely in the coming year. Oyster Script and Amazon Unlimited are going to be extremely important because we’re going to be able to see if that model actually works.

Also, there’s a lot of really small, exciting startups, particularly in translation. You see a lot of strong, small, buyable companies run by two or three individuals, and if they only have one or two hits in the course of ten years, they can sustain themselves. And I think that’s the biggest growth sector you’ll see in the publishing space this year - operations like Le French Book, or Gallic Books, or Peirene Press.

And Other Stories is another interesting company. They crowd source titles for translation. These  companies are very focussed and that’s why we’ve seen them boom - particularly in translation. They have a pool of stories they can mine, and because these are in languages not all publishers have access to, they’re going to do very well from that.

Tom Cape is the Director of Connected Solutions at Arqiva. He led the first iteration of ‘Sky Go’ and Sky’s first mobile VoD app, 4oD and Project Kangaroo for BBC, ITV and C4

One of the most interesting things happening right now is the convergence of TV and the internet. This has been going on for 10 or more years, and every year people talk about it. But this year we’re going to see genuine service conversions, so you’ll be able to buy a TV that offers you a choice of online content or traditional TV broadcasts in a much more seamless way. For example, you’ll be able to buy a TV that has iPlayer built in to it, rather than having to download an app or plug a different device into your TV.  This will also include the specialist players like Netflix and Lovefilm.

There’s a big initiative around Freeview coming out in 2015. Freeview Connected will see Freeview become an internet-connected service . So when you buy a TV with a Freeview logo, it will have all of the internet services built-in. You’ll buy what you think is a standard TV but On Demand will be built into the television experience. When you go to look at listings, you will also be able to watch things that were on in the past as well as plan for the future. Plus you’ll link straight through to episodes you missed in the past. This will be a big change for the consumer in terms of how they find and consume catch-up TV and On Demand TV, and also for the UK TV market in general.

I expect to see content becoming much more innovative. Broadcast television is one-way transmission, but internet television is all about two-way engagement

I think that change is about ease of use. Ten years ago I was involved in Sky's first online service, then 4oD and iPlayer. Back then, finding and using those first services was a little difficult. It was mostly a product for pioneers and early adopters. Then it was the was younger, more tech savvy generations. But soon even my mum will be able to use her internet-connected TV to find things to watch. It will become so much more simple. The market will open up, and a much wider range of people will watch a much wider range of content.

I expect to see content becoming much more innovative. Broadcast television is one-way transmission, but internet television is all about two-way engagement. So it’ll be interesting to see what new formats of content come out that harness that - that allow for deeper engagement, and more interactivity. Perhaps there will be more niche content because it will be cheaper to distribute it. Format development will be interesting, but it’s hard to predict,. One thing that surprised everyone over the last couple of years was box-set gorging. It’s become a phenomenon. It’s not a new format, it’s a new behaviour.

2015 will see a real convergence of TV and the Internet 2015 will see a real convergence of TV and the Internet
Sameer Vasta, Creative Commons (2013) ©

Vice is a brand that excites me right now. They’ve got big plans for the youth market next year; they’re certainly the ones to watch. There are a number of interesting, smaller, producers starting to produce more internet content. Andy Taylor, previously Head of Digital at Channel 4, has founded Little Dot Studios, and they’re working in some really interesting formats. I’ll also be watching what happens with Amazon Prime Video and Netflix.

And we shouldn't rule out what will happen with Google and Apple, who continue to poke at the TV space. As global players, they don’t account for the fact that TV tends to be very regional. This is where they’ve failed in the past. Apple TV has been on their radar for a couple of years now, but they’re yet to come up with the killer app. Apple has been rumoured to have something in the wings for a while so perhaps 2015 will be the year they release a product for the TV space that really grabs people’s attention.

Brian Steinberg is senior TV editor at Variety

In 2015, the biggest media companies will invest more heavily in social media, mobile, and video streaming. These outlets are swiftly becoming the first place to go for news and breaking information, so you are going to see advertisers and media companies move to use this space more quickly. News outlets like CNN and NBC News will start to break their stories first via social media and then provide links to video and TV programming. Advertisers will use social media to respond instantly to the things their key demographics are talking about, whether its the Super Bowl or Jimmy Fallon's desire to buy a new pick-up truck.

Netflix will lose its distinction as its rivals attempt to move into the same space. HBO and CBS have already unveiled their intentions to do more with video streaming so it will be interesting to watch those plans take shape. In 2015, HBO is planning a broadband-distributed service that anyone can access, so long as they pay for it via a distributor. This could put them on similar footing with Netflix and Amazon. Though, to be sure, HBO won't have the broader library those two do. CBS has already launched both a streaming news feed as well as a subscription video-on-demand hub it calls CBS All Access.

Netflix will lose its distinction as its rivals attempt to move into the same space. HBO and CBS have already unveiled their intentions to do more with video streaming so it will be interesting to watch those plans take shape

Amazon will ramp up its streaming video efforts and make its interface more user-friendly. More and more marketers will demand ‘native’ advertising - ads that look like the content they support - a practice that will extended to TV commercials.

Viewers will continue to find more comfort and fun in getting ‘unhitched’ from their old-school TV sets. This means turning in their affiliation with a favourite news outlet in exchange for more interaction with social networks. They’ll watch more late-night TV the next day via YouTube; they’ll pay less attention to when a show is ‘on’ TV and more attention to services that let them watch whatever they want at a moment's notice. As a result, ad dollars will continue to migrate from the traditional to the non-traditional, the biggest content players will ramp up stunt programming and break old rules in favor of new ideas.

Stunt programming has fast become all the rage on TV, whether its an NBC live broadcast of ‘Peter Pan’ at the start of the U.S. holiday shopping season or one of Discovery Communications' live telecasts of daredevil Nik Wallenda trying to cross the Chicago skyline via tightrope. Live programming that dares you to miss it - and miss what everyone else is talking about - is seen as one of the few kinds of programming that can lure broader audiences who won't have the ability to skip ads and who can use social media to turn the TV programs into multimedia events.

Social media and video streaming are fast becoming the go-to place for news Social media and video streaming are fast becoming the go-to place for news
Jonathan Adami, Creative Commons (2012) ©

On the other hand, the way brands are leveraging audiences is evolving in interesting ways. Coca-Cola's ‘Share a Coke’ campaign made cans and bottles the delivery system for content and linked the drink to directly to consumers lives. Coke's announcement it would pull out of ‘American Idol’ suggests it is less interested in big communal events and more intrigued by the opportunity to interact with its customers on a one-to-one basis.

In terms of who I’ll be keeping a close eye on in 2015, I'm keen to follow CBS. This old-school broadcaster is taking a real step forward into the digital space and making more of a name for itself there. I’m also interested in AMC, home of mega-hit  ‘The Walking Dead’, which has an ambitious slate ahead. It’s also worth monitoring the new upstart TV networks - Fusion and Pivot are the ones that spring to mind. They are really courting millennials, and doing all kinds of innovative things to offer a different broadcasting model.


Author
Susie Hogarth