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6 January 2023

Innovation trends 2022 – TOP 5 Predictions: The Follow-up

Prediction and explanation are exactly symmetrical, according to American philosopher John Rogers Searle. Explanations are predictions about what has happened; predictions are explanations about what's going to happen.

So let’s look back at Sandra Lehner's Top 5 predictions for 2022 and add “end-of-year-explanations” regarding some of the innovation trends we have seen. 

By Sandra Lehner

1. Maturing SVOD Market

I predicted last year that the focus of the streaming giants will be on original content to encourage people to subscribe. Netflix spent $17 billion on content in 2022, Disney+ spent almost twice as much, namely a total of $30 billion on original content, and NBCUniversal (NBCU) doubled its investment on Peacock originals in 2022 to $3 billion, with plans to hit annual spending of $5 billion in the “next couple of years.”

To help with these exorbitant content costs, it was also the year streaming embraced advertising. Honestly, I would have guessed that Disney+, Peacock and Discovery+ adapt their original models to include various ad-package options. But Netflix did surprise me.

Netflix had long been averse to advertising on its subscription service, however, after posting disappointing figures in Q1 of this year, showing it lost 200,000 subscribers, the company said they would be introducing a less-expensive ad-supported tier to its service in a bid to bring in new customers. At the Cannes Lions advertising festival in June, Netflix’s Co-CEO Ted Sarandos explained: “We’ve left a big customer segment off the table, which is people who say: ‘Hey, Netflix is too expensive for me and I don’t mind advertising.'”

The other big news in the streaming world came in April when AT&T and Discovery completed a $43 billion merger creating the mega-media conglomerate Warner Bros Discovery. The deal was significant as it created the biggest pure entertainment brand on the globe. Warner Bros Discovery later announced it was uniting streamers Discovery+ and HBO Max in early 2023.

2. Focus on Community Building

Another prediction was that apart from their focus on original content, Netflix will also focus even more on building communities around their verticals and catering to their fans.

In September, Netflix hosted Tudum again, their virtual, global fan event, which featured over 200 global stars breaking exclusive news, trailers, and clips from over 120 series, films, and games. The five events in Korea, India, the United States and Europe, Latin America, and Japan pulled in a record 41.8M views across all Netflix social platforms, growing almost 63% from last year’s event. Netflix dominated social media as #Tudum was the #1 trend on Twitter worldwide for over an hour and remained in the global top 10 for hours.

Netflix also started to create and leverage their franchises. For example, they hosted The Queen’s Ball: A Bridgerton Experience, which was an immersive, Instagram-ready confection held in the ballrooms of the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles and tailor made for die-hard fans of the global Netflix hit.

On the other coast, at The Prince George Ballroom in Manhattan, the fictionalized Upper West Side high-rise, in which much of Only Murders in the Building takes place, came to life for a Friday and Saturday in August, complete with model kitchens and living rooms, along with the faux art gallery and a replica of the classic diner that serve as other central locations in the show.

For TV fans around the world, these kinds of experiences are setting the bar for TV show marketing. In-person events are a proven way to cement franchises into the cultural conversation while strengthening show fandoms – especially after the pandemic IRL is more important than ever. Disney and Universal Studios have known this for decades, of course. Experiences are especially popular among younger audiences: more than three-quarters of Millennials prefer spending money on experiences and events over buying material things, according to a Harris Poll survey commissioned by the ticketing and event management company Eventbrite.

3. The Metaverse story continues

The Metaverse was the buzzword of the year and TV shows started to enter it.

ITV, Britain’s oldest commercial TV network, developed an extension of its flagship reality show The Voice into the metaverse. The virtual world will allow fans globally to unlock new voice experiences through games, competitions, fan rewards, digital items and more.

The Voice also made an appearance at Decentraland’s second annual Metaverse Music Festival by hosting a virtual contest and handing out NFT awards to winners.

Meanwhile, Samsung and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon partnered to create a metaverse gaming experience in Fortnite called “Tonight at the Rock Powered by Samsung Galaxy.” This in-game world will allow Fortnite players to explore virtual destinations around New York City, including Central Park, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, and Studio 6B. Players will also be able to play mini-games inspired by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, such as Giant Pong.

While the examples so far are simply digital extensions to test the water, I expect the storytelling in the Metaverse to evolve as it already has this year regarding NFTs. 

4. NFTs will evolve

2022 was the year of the NFT TV shows. NFT TV shows? In a nutshell, NFT TV shows represent a new model for watching television shows. In a typical NFT TV series, users will have to buy NFTs to access the content and potentially get creatively involved.

Actress Mila Kunis has already released two NFT shows: Stoner Cats & The Gimmicks.

Stoner Cats is an adult animated series and as the title suggests, the show follows the story of “cats who get high”. Hollywood A-listers such as Jane Fonda, Chris Rock, Ashton Kutcher, and Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin are also part of the cast. And The Gimmicks is an animated, adult workplace comedy backed by Mila Kunis’ Sixth Wall production company. The NFT TV show follows the story of “three washed-up wrestlers from the regional Wrestling Wrestling Wrestling League”.

Also, Fox’s NFT show Krapopolis had a huge presence at ComicCon in San Diego - even though it only launches in 2023. Krapopolis is an animated show created by Dan Harmon, who is behind much-loved shows like Community and Rick & Morty. What’s more, the voice cast includes Hannah Waddingham, Richard Ayoade, Matt Berry, Pam Murphy, and Duncan Trussell.

I also said last year, that blockchain and NFTs open a whole new world for creators of intellectual property (IP) to directly reach and monetize their audiences. And this was basically my main take-away from VidCon 2022. Creators are exhausted and don’t want the middlemen (Hollywood, Google, Meta) in-between anymore. They are looking for a direct relationship and platforms such as Recast in the UK are offering this already. Creators as well as fans want creative and commercial agency. 

4. Long-form Content returns

My final prediction was long-form content will make its way back on social media.

Earlier this year, TikTok rolled out the ability for users to upload videos up to 10 minutes in length. The move was seen as a way for TikTok to attract the same sort of longer-form video creators who normally post content on YouTube. With the expansion, creators gained more flexibility to film things like cooking demos, beauty tutorials, educational content, comedy sketches and more, without having to worry too much about the video’s length. Now TikTok is testing a new horizontal full screen mode with select users globally to enhance the long-form viewing experience.

A trend on YouTube which further confirms this prediction are video essays. You can watch hour-long videos about TV shows dissecting every aspect and they are widely popular.

About the author

SANDRA LEHNER

Sandra Lehner is a Creative Strategy Director, currently based in Los Angeles. She is a frequent contributor to OneMIP, and speaks regularly at MIPTV & MIPCOM.

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