Future of TV Briefing: The top trends and developments that will shape the future of TV in 2024

FOTV

This Future of TV Briefing covers the latest in streaming and TV for Digiday+ members and is distributed over email every Wednesday at 10 a.m. ET. More from the series →

This week’s Future of TV Briefing looks at some of the top trends and developments to keep an eye on in 2024.

  • The year-in-preview
  • YouTube as streaming’s pied piper, the rise of AI-generated influencers and more

The year-in-preview

Happy New Year. How happy this year will be for the TV, streaming and digital video industry will remain to be seen, though.

Some of 2023’s trends and developments seem set to impose hardships in 2024 — the strike-induced production pause, for example — but others, like ongoing ad market volatility, may offer opportunity as well as angst. And still more are total wild cards.

Here are five of the top trends and developments that I’ll be keeping an eye on this year.

The post-strike fallout

Last year’s writers’ and actors’ strikes were a seismic event, and the aftershocks are going to ripple through at least the next year. While TV networks and streaming services have been able to get shows back into production, there remains a looming logjam as preexisting projects return to set and new ones look to join them.

But it’s not only the programming Tetris that producers and distributors will need to do to ensure shows are shot and streamed (or aired) on schedule. There’s also the calculus that TV networks and especially streaming services are performing as the industry’s new math shifts from orienting around subscriber counts to profit margins, with the writers’ and actors’ deals increasing programming costs at a time when advertising and subscription revenues appear to be as volatile as ever. 

And then there’s the big looming question: Will there be another industry-stopping strike this year? The union representing crew members — the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees — is set to negotiate a new deal this spring, and last year’s hardball negotiations by its kindred labor unions could set the table for IATSE to increase its demands while lowering film-and-TV studios’ willingness to meet those demands.

The great rebundling

Who will end up owning Paramount at the end of 2024? Heading into the holidays, Skydance Media and Warner Bros. Discovery were each taking a hard look at the owner of CBS and Paramount+. Should the latter succeed — and antitrust regulators accede to such a deal — that could kick off yet another M&A wave reminiscent of the 2017-19 period that saw the marriages of Disney and 20th Century Fox, AT&T and Time Warner, Discovery and Scripps and, oh yes, Viacom and CBS.

In addition to potential corporate bundling, there’s the bundling of streaming services that ramped up in the second half of 2023 and is unlikely to abate in 2024. This spring will see Disney officially bring Hulu into Disney+. Meanwhile, Apple and Paramount have reportedly discussed some co-selling arrangement of their respective streaming services, and Verizon has been trying to swaddle seemingly the entire market into its +Play package.

And then there’s the emerging need for ad-supported streamers to roll up more inventory, but we’ll get to that in the next entry.

The ad-supported streaming war

2024 will see the start of the ad-supported streaming war, to borrow the headline from a story I wrote on how this year’s debut of Amazon Prime Video’s ad-supported tier will combine with a volatile ad market to create intense competition for ad dollars among streaming services.

Prime Video promises to be the biggest competition that Hulu has faced to date. And its ad-supported debut has the potential to create a new hierarchy among the premium ad-supported streamers, a tier that has already become somewhat stratified according to their respective scale and pricing. 

Then there’s the overarching hierarchy between traditional TV and streaming. While traditional TV continues to own the upfront, streaming is in the process of taking up the upper hand with respect to overall ad spending. And with agency executives’ describing client budgets being as volatile as ever, the conditions are ripe for streaming to secure its grip while raising the age-old question: whither the upfront model? 

I’m not about to say this will be the year that the upfront withers away; I don’t know that that will ever happen. But between the onslaught of streaming inventory, the erosion of linear TV audiences and advertisers’ programmatic preferences, this could be the year that endeavor deals replace upfront commitments as the primary model.

The creator economy’s changing economics

A topsy-turvy TV and streaming ad market could help to tip more ad dollars toward digital video platforms and bring the short-form creator battle between TikTok and YouTube Shorts to full tilt. 

In 2024, it’s out with creator funds and in with the O.G. creator monetization option: revenue-sharing programs. Of course, TikTok originally introduced its revenue-sharing program in 2022 and YouTube Shorts followed suit in 2023. But each program has gotten off to a quiet start, and last year TikTok seemed to turn its attention toward longer-form videos, meaning those at least 60 seconds long — or those exceeding the maximum length of a YouTube Short. 

Meta is headed in the other direction, however. Instagram has been reluctant to introduce a revenue-sharing program for Reels, and Facebook has decided to stop sharing ad revenue with video creators. That could spur even more creators to gravitate to TikTok and YouTube — or lay the groundwork for Snapchat to reassert itself through the revenue-sharing program that it introduced in 2023. 

The measurement overhaul

I had originally planned to slot an item about generative AI adoption here, but then I remembered that this is supposed to be the year that the TV ad industry finally undergoes its years-in-the-making measurement overhaul. I wonder if I’m alone in forgetting about that.

I also wonder if it’ll actually happen. Coming out of last year’s upfront negotiations, TV ad buyers and sellers saw signs of progress after months being mired in a test-and-learn phase. And then we all learned that the Video Advertising Bureau’s and Association of National Advertisers’ efforts to collaborate on a measurement calibration panel weren’t going so well. And soon after Nielsen tested anyone’s patience for the measurement currency changeover to actually happen by deciding not to phase out its legacy currencies in 2024 after all.

Of all the areas of the TV, streaming and digital video industry facing uncertainty in 2024, leave it to the one revolving around actual math to be the most fuzzy.

What we’ve heard

“It is going to be the streaming war. Because money is coming in and competition is heating up, and that always equals a battle. And I think that battle is going to start [this] year.”

Publicis Media’s Shelby Saville

Numbers to know

6.3%: Percentage share of U.S. streaming subscribers that canceled subscriptions in November 2023.

>$5 billion: How much money top media companies lost on streaming in 2023.

>4 billion: Estimated number of videos that were posted to YouTube in 2023.

$11 billion: How much money platforms including YouTube, Snapchat and TikTok are estimated to have made from ads shown to minors in the U.S. in 2022.

What we’ve covered

2024 will see the start of the ad-supported streaming war:

  • Amazon Prime Video’s upcoming ad-supported tier will shake up the top end of the streaming ad market.
  • Advertisers’ heightened budget volatility will also affect how streaming ad dollars are allocated.

Read more about the ad-supported streaming war here.

Duolingo’s head of global social strategy, Katherine Chan, talks about making unhinged content work and learning from mistakes:

  • Chan appeared on the Digiday Podcast to discuss the brand’s TikTok approach.
  • Duolingo has started a series of 1-minute-long episodes on YouTube.

Listen to the latest Digiday Podcast episode here.

Creators pick their preferred short-form video platforms:

  • Digiday asked a handful of creators, if they could only use one short-form platform, which would they pick?
  • What’s most telling about their responses isn’t so much their chosen platforms but their reasons why.

Read more about creators’ short-form platform picks here.

What we’re reading

YouTube’s grip on streaming’s next generation:

Kids gravitate to watching YouTube over services like Netflix, and companies making shows aimed at kids are pressing the likes of Netflix to let them continue distributing episodes and clips on the Google-owned video platform, likely reinforcing its hold on this audience, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The rise of AI-generated influencers:

AI-generated virtual influencers are securing deals with brands such as Victoria’s Secret and Louis Vuitton and threatening to cut into the money spent on human influencers, according to Financial Times.

Broadcast TV networks shed viewers:

CBS, Fox and NBC experienced viewership declines in the fall, while ABC’s ratings improved thanks to airing “Monday Night Football,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Want to discuss this with our editors and members? Join here, or if you're already a member.

https://digiday.com/?p=530487

More in Future of TV

Future of TV Briefing: How talent managers see creators’ professionalism levels increasing

This week’s Future of TV Briefing looks at how creators are becoming more professional as they diversify their revenue streams.

Why longer videos are becoming more commonplace on YouTube

Short-form videos may have surged in popularity over the past several years, but the long-form video format is on the comeback trail.

Future of TV Briefing: How creators are setting themselves up for the career long haul

This week’s Future of TV Briefing looks at how creators are preparing for the career long haul.