It is the first Monday of a new year, CES is set to start again, and the stock market is off to a lukewarm pace. And so it may just be time to come up with some 2014 media predictions. So what should we expect from this new year?
Everyone is touting this year as the year for wearable technology. Samsung offered its Galaxy Gear watch and others have devices to measure calories, steps, and heartbeat. So the timing seems right for Apple to finally release its iWatch along with "softwear" and software that makes it an integral part of the Apple family. That means deals with Nike and other companies to bring more connectivity to the devices and more useful data. And of course the iWatch must be uniquely styled to represent an ergonomic and fashionable device.
What I don't predict and hope that Apple agrees, is a smart TV. The margins are awful, manufacturers had a huge miss with 3D, and smart TVs can best be created with a box behind the set. If you have to create a TV set, make a dumb big screen monitor, but let other devices run it.
And speaking of boxes, its time for Apple TV to get bigger, stronger, better. I also wouldn't be surprised if TiVo finds itself an acquisition target with Samsung or Apple willing to own. For me, the box behind the HDTV set will become the most crucial piece of equipment.
In the world of cable, I expect consolidation on both the operator and the programmer side. Time Warner Cable seems the most likely candidate these days, but should a deal fall through, I think Cablevision remains the next likely candidate. On the network side, I expect a programmer like AMC Networks and Scripps to both be on the market. Smaller programmers too will find themselves at risk; perhaps even changing their business model to focus entirely on the streaming marketplace.
And speaking of streaming, I expect that by year end, Hulu's owners will have tried and failed to get along. The service will be back up for sale and networks will focus on their own streaming platforms. TV Everywhere will become (ATC) for Authenticated TV Everywhere and licensing deals with cable operators will include authorizations to stream. Regardless, cable subscription will continue to drop although at a slower rate. A better economy will mean that consumers will keep their cable subscription AND subscribe to streaming services like Netflix.
For print media, Time Inc will disengage from its parent, Time Warner and build extensive video relationships. Successful print companies will merge their digital and print subscriptions for one price and consumers can choose to donate their print copy to schools, libraries, and other establishments or continue to receive. Print and broadcast will build better synergies to provide more extensive news coverage and deeper analysis. Writers will report on air and encourage viewers to visit their site for more coverage.
Radio may just see a resurgence. Perhaps it is time for NBC to own some radio stations and here in the NY market to hear the familiar call of "W Ennnn B C". CBS appears to be finding some success in radio and NBC would like to own a piece. And streaming music will only get more competitive with Spotify, Pandora, Apple, and others pushing their subscription services through broadcast and cable.
So those are some of my 2014 predictions. While I have no research or facts or rumor to back any of it up, it just seems like these scenarios are likely to happen. How many do I get right; well a scorecard at the end of the year may just be the way to go.