Birnbach Communications’ Top Predictions for 2012, Part 3

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Here’s Part 3 of our predictions:
  1. More viewers will cut the cable cord. Americans have complained about the service of cable companies for decades. Now, consumers have another reason to grumble: Cable fees are rising so much that even cable providers are taking content providers to task over the cost of content – specifically sports channels, (Wall St. Journal: “Cable-TV Honchos Cry Foul Over Soaring Cost of ESPN,” Dec. 6, 2011). This year, expect more people to reduce their monthly expenses by cancelling their cable subscription – partly to reduce monthly expenses and partly to use new technology that provides a flexible alternative, allowing us to watch what we want, when we want, and on the device of our choosing.  The challenge: You need to have several apps, along with a computer connected to your TV, and, it’s still too complicated – often requiring tech assistance for many just to get it set up.  And technology is quickly evolving, which means what you buy today may be obsolete in 18 months, requiring new purchases and additional tech support.
  2.      Converging media will continue in 2012. 1) Expect more newspaper reporters to prepare video reports for their newspapers’ website and apps. Expect more TV and radio reporters to prepare text articles for their websites and apps – and everyone to take more still photos that they post onto Twitter and Google+. Lines of cooperation and competition will continue to blur.  2) Increasingly, media will stop being defined by the device on which we used to consume them. Instead, we’ll need to find new terms to define what we’re doing. We’re not taping a TV program anymore because we’re not using tape of any kind – we’re recording it onto a DVR and perhaps watching it on a tablet.
    In fact, calling HBO a pay-cable channel may not make sense as more people may access the network via smartphone or tablet apps. They’ll listen to the radio but not actually on a radio (there is an app for that). Or watch TV on a TV. And they certainly won’t be watching or listening at the time designated by the broadcasters, but on their own time.  Interestingly, American consumers, who have purchased new flat panel TVs over the past five years, are looking to watch TV shows on devices at a time and place that’s convenient for them. 
    The implications for communications functions within organizations: Because the how, when and where we consume media is changing, they should consider developing and distributing content across different platforms and different devices and for different mindsets.  The person using a smartphone wants short, uncluttered content whereas a person using a laptop might be okay with more links and longer high-def content.
  3.  E-books will improve their experience by providing new interactive and multimedia content. Already some publishers are working on combining video and other interactive features into their e-books to provide more value. With the growing capabilities of e-readers like the Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble’s Nook, expect e-textbooks to include interactive exercises, and nonfiction e-books to include more video, photos, and audio, while fiction books will come packed with featurettes much the way DVDs are packaged.

Let us know if you agree or disagree. And check back tomorrow for additional predictions.

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