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What Will Have the Biggest Impact on the Media and Technology Business?

NAB Amplify – by Adrian Pennington

In a year of unprecedented change — during which the word unprecedented was used an unprecedented number of times — the media industry experienced future shock. Streaming has become the principal route to get video content to consumers, but the winning business models are all works in progress.

With these ramifications set to continue far beyond 2021, industry experts lay the groundwork for the year ahead.

Video and Storytelling Need to Incorporate Social Experiences
Jonathan Lupo, Head of Digital Experience Design, North America, EPAM

“Our need to socialize has been repressed for approximately seven months now, and we’re absolutely starving for meaningful social experiences. Just adding a chat or commenting feature into an eCommerce app won’t give us the virtual hugs we desperately crave.

Streaming services such as Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, and YouTube TV haven’t been able to replicate the theater-going experience. While drive-in movies have been making a come-back in small communities, there’s certainly an opportunity for digital streaming giants to make their content more social.

Efforts, to date, include the ability to schedule Netflix ‘watch parties’ Netflix which synchronize video playback with a group of watchers who can chat with each other during a movie or TV show. The ability to chat is a rudimentary social capability, however, and without seeing your friends, the experience feels somewhat disembodied.

Necessity being the mother of invention, digital media consumers have found a way to ‘hack’ popular teleconferencing software, like Zoom to create DIY watch parties with the ability to actually glimpse their friends’ faces. Streaming content providers will likely follow suit, bringing more embodied social entertainment to screens in 2021.

Deloitte claims that “there are more millennials, now, who have a gaming subscription than those with a traditional Pay TV subscription — and close to one-half of millennials and Gen Z pay for both a gaming and video streaming service.”

Animal Crossing was a huge hit this year in part because it provided an alternative avenue for social connection and interaction — a sort of digital ‘third place,’ more geared towards casual togetherness or hanging out than the purpose-driven and performative mechanics of conferencing software like Zoom.

Since gaming is inherently social, and given the crossover consumer base, it makes sense for movie studios and gaming platforms to join forces and create mixed-media experiences that enable consumers a greater degree of social interaction, engagement with franchises, and escape from reality. With VR now within the consumer’s grasp, a properly immersive, mixed-media experience could both entertain us and help satisfy that urge to be social, in a real physical sense.”

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