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Is Video Going Viral, or What?

Is TV Everywhere giving way to Video Everywhere?

It sure looks that way, based on the surging popularity of video services in general right now. While conventional TV Everywhere services from a wide array of pay-TV providers and entertainment programmers are still struggling for more viewers, video services of all kinds from other sources are flourishing across the planet.

That's especially true of Internet-based video. In its latest Visual Networking Index (VNI) report issued last May, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) projected that video content will make up a whopping 80% of all consumer Internet traffic globally by 2019, up from an already impressive 64% in 2014. Moreover, the VNI report projected that Internet video streaming traffic to the household TV, which doubled in 2014, will jump another fourfold by 2019, accounting for more than one-sixth of all consumer Internet video traffic worldwide by then.

Similarly, in its latest report in mid-December, Sandvine Inc. reported that streaming video and audio content (mostly streaming video) now accounts for more than 70% of North American downstream traffic over fixed networks during peak evening hours. That's up from less than 35% five years ago. In fact, streaming video king Netflix now alone accounts for more Internet streaming traffic than all video and audio sources did in late 2010.

Clearly, something dramatic is going on here. With its growing use in education, healthcare, retail, finance, government, hospitality and numerous other commercial and institutional settings, video is swiftly transforming into a service that extends well beyond the traditional linear entertainment offerings of yesteryear. Indeed, video is becoming a new basic service that, along with voice and data, just about everyone taps in their daily lives to do just about anything.

The Internet, of course, has paved the way for this unprecedented wave of video-mania. Before video streaming from the web became the norm, video was mainly something people watched on TV screens at home, in bars, or on big screens in movie theaters. But now there's video to watch just about everywhere -- on desktop computers, tablets, laptops, smartphones, game consoles, outdoor billboards, smart watches, train screens, workout equipment, conference room walls, airport monitors, car dashboards, even bathroom mirrors (yep, really) -- in almost any kind of possible setting.

Is a world of "all video, all the time" the kind of world we want? Do we really want to be able to watch Donald Trump trade insults with Ted Cruz wherever we go, on whatever screen we might happen to be near?

Well, maybe not. But whether we do or not, the advent of Video Everywhere represents a golden opportunity for communications service providers. As video goes viral, cable operators, telcos, satellite TV providers, mobile video providers and other operators can potentially play a big role, delivering managed video services not just to their usual TV viewers, but to small businesses, enterprises, institutions, government agencies and the like. They can also broaden the range of the managed video services they offer, delivering everything from instructional videos to sales pitches to educational webinars to video conferencing.

So the Video Everywhere phenomenon could be a bonanza for conventional video providers, if they can play their cards right and figure out how best to monetize all these new video services. Here's hoping they take advantage of this opportunity to deliver more than all those sickeningly cute cat videos. Puh-lease.

This blog is sponsored by Huawei.

— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

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