After the sports dense year of 2012, people needed to get back to what we know best – inactivity and binge watching. So let’s have a look back at 2013 through the medium of tv, but tv-that-isn’t-quite-tv. AnTi-V, as I have confusingly decided to label it.
2013 really was the year of not-leaving-the-house-for-days-on-end, ending a five year long decline of spend on entertainment. Reports show that 63% of Americans use streaming services and that overall mobile and tablet video consumption is growing 133% each year. On the other side of the pond, the UK spend for downloads, streams and subscriptions for the year reached £621m, raising the overall industry value to £2.3bn. In 2014, Nielsen are set to factor mobile viewership, adding web viewers to its ratings system.
Much of this has been thanks to improvements in streaming services such as Netflix and LoveFilm; entertainment ‘on-the-go’ is no longer a novel concept. Netflix have been truly championed for their programming originality this year, which saw them earn 6 Golden Globe nominations and win two Emmys for Orange is the New Black and House of Cards (the first Emmy award ever given to a show made specifically for web). In May, 15 original episodes of cult favourite Arrested Development launched on Netflix at once, perfect for the binge-viewing experience we’ve all come to love. If you are a big Arrested Development fan, you’ll know May 26th surpassed Christmas Day in terms of anticipation and excitement. From 1pm until 1am, camped out in my living room with a projector and many themed food choices (cornballer included), we watched the Netflix series unravel from the initial clunky and odd episodes into a seamless and perfectly formed tv series designed for continual consumption.
The streaming event of the year was of course (and you don’t need to be told again) Breaking Bad. The finale in September turned the internet into one giant meth-filled water cooler. Though the series has ended, this won’t be the last you’ll be seeing Saul as Netflix has bought the rights to spin off ‘Better Call Saul‘ – starring Bob Odenkirk returning as the best named character of the year, Saul Goodman.
Other companies have also developed original programming to try and gain loyal following online. In April, Amazon created 14 new original pilots for Web TV series, comprised of children’s shows and comedies. Later in the year they then commissioned two additional drama pilot shows and won exclusive streaming rights to popular shows including Downton Abbey and Justified. The success of their new shows depended on the opinion of the viewers, as Amazon reviews, user feedback and data points decided which shows would be continued. The project was successful with viewers, who voted at least 4 out of 5 of the shows with an 80% rating.
Live stream TV company Aereo was also a big name in terms of online entertainment this year. Aereo live streams TV and ‘catch up’ shows on all devices, achievable through a loophole in copyright law. Since the company’s launch, broadcasters have been trying to shut the live stream service down, claiming it is a breach of their copyright. The U.S. Court of Appeals rejected a request by broadcasters for an injunction against the company, deeming it not guilty of breaching copyright rules. The case has not been dropped, as the supreme court is currently deciding whether to take it on in 2014. If the case does go through it could prove to be industry defining, as laws surrounding these unclear areas will be set and determined. In the UK, a similar battle took place with TV Catchup, another livestream TV service available online. Though still in operation, they were not so favourably looked upon, losing the battle against UK broadcasters, forcing them to cease streaming 20 channels.
As the sporting season kicked off in the summer, BT extended its offer to entice sports fans to its broadband packages. They introduced an innovative commercial model in the form of BT Sport – three main channels of exclusive sports available to all broadband subscribers in a bid to lure customers away from the longheld dominance of Sky’s sporting ownership. The initiative was an instant success, seeing 23,000 new customers switch to BT broadband in the initial four weeks alone. The offer is set to continue as BT have since secured more exclusive games, winning an £897m football rights deal for matches previously exclusive to Sky and ITV.
2014, you say?
In 2014 we can expect a battle from the tech giants to own the living room, through their set-top entertainment devices. Google is to launch a Nexus branded box, which will stream from services such as Netflix and be compatible with Android devices. It may also be the year Apple TV finally emerges, seeing the brand fully integrating its existing products with entertainment in the living room. Amazon are also expected to release a set top box, after delays on the product meant it missed it’s 2013 holiday release, and Intel are finding partners to pair up with for their web-based television service. Furthermore, the screen you may be watching it all on could become bendy and twisty after Samsung patent the flexible design.
2014 will also see names better-known for their online presence merging into the world of TV. Imgur could be evolving, based on its claims they want to to be more like a TV station. There will also be a collection of web to TV projects including more original programming from Amazon, more from Vice, who aired their debut TV series on HBO this year, aanndd for fans of sparkle and lack of self-awareness the Rich Kids of Instagram reality tv show is due to hit our (bendy) screens too. Here’s to not leaving the sofa for another year!