So what is going to happen in 2014? The Quad will break it down for you.
Netflix moved to the forefront of the evolution of modern television by releasing House of Cards in early February. They embraced a unique and different model of distribution, refusing to mirror the successes of their competitors. “The Netflix Model” satiates new desires of modern audiences by releasing entire seasons of television at once. House of Cards star Kevin Spacey said in a lecture at the Edinburgh TV Festival that the “Netflix Model” proved one thing: the audience wants control.
Anything viewers want are a few strokes of a keyboard away. That means those producing new content must offer their audiences something to reward their loyalty. First, they must deliver quality content. Second, they have to provide the content to their viewers in a format that is convenient for them. “Give people what they want, when they want it, in the form they want it in, for a reasonable price, and they’ll more likely pay for it, rather then steal it,” continued Spacey.
But don’t take his word for it. The success of the “Netflix Model” affected the rest of the industry. Amazon and Hulu are stepping up their game with their own original programming and additional licensed media for streaming. HBO continues to explore the role free content on their YouTube channel can play on this inter-web battle. They also are considering the sale of HBO GO to non-subscribers through a third party.
Meanwhile, Netflix membership surged to 40 million members worldwide, just won its first Golden Globe and recently announced the development of a new original series about world explorer Marco Polo.
It will be interesting to see how the web/TV war plays out and how traditional media outlets will respond in 2014.
Billy Bob Thornton, always good for stirring up a little controversy, recently said actors wanting to work on sophisticated projects should find themselves on TV instead of in movies.
"The entertainment business can pretend all they want, but the movie world has changed drastically, particularly in the last five or six years," said Thornton, “If you want to be an actor, get on a really good series in television because there's where it's at.”
Billy Bob is absolutely correct. As the movie industry continues to struggle to define itself in the new and daunting age of Internet content streaming, television remains a haven for actors tired of studios churning out repetitive and one-dimensional spectacle films.
Thornton, who is starring in the upcoming FX series Fargo based on the 1996 movie, is hardly alone in this sentiment. Numerous other big-name film actors like Kevin Costner, Dennis Quaid, Kevin Bacon, Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson recently leaped onto the small screen.
With little changing in the landscape of the film industry, 2014 should see more big film names moving to TV.
Consumers expect the content they want, right when they want it. The immediacy of the producer-consumer relationship means traditional release windows for films and TV programming won’t be here for long.
As Netflix and other similar platforms continue straining conventional distribution models, watch out for shrinking delays from theatrical releases to video/video-on-demand releases. The sharp increase in Netflix members and video-on-demand subscribers indicates audiences no longer want to wait three to four months to see films in their homes. Netflix executive Ted Sarandos even floated the idea of films sharing their day-and-date release with both movie theatres and web platforms. While this structure will probably not be adopted in 2014, it is demonstrative of a larger trend to watch this year.
Crowdfunding is no longer just a trendy buzzword. It’s an active movement that matures and expands in scale every month. Crowdfunding provides innovators and entrepreneurs with a platform to reach millions of potential donors and investors via the Internet, with the hope that they have an idea people can rally behind. The effect crowdfunding has on independent film production and distribution cannot be ignored.
Now, as a case in point, let’s look at the Veronica Mars feature film. Veronica Mars was a celebrated, yet short-lived TV series starring Kristen Bell as a teenage private investigator. The show was cancelled despite gradual ratings improvement over all three seasons.
Fast-forward to March 13th, 2013. Bell and show creator Rob Thomas launched a fundraising campaign on the popular crowdfunding site “Kickstarter,” hoping they could raise enough money to produce and release a Veronica Mars feature film.
In less then 10 hours, thanks to tens of thousands of online donors, they had reached their $2 million goal. They raised $5.7 million in the next month.
Basically, you should keep an eye out for crowdfunding in 2014.
Theatre ticket sales will continue to decline in 2014 thanks to the web/TV revolution and increasing content piracy. 3D films provided a flicker of hope for the movie industry in 2012 (bolstered by the $2-$5 surcharge applied to 3D flicks). But those ticket sales wore off in 2013 for moviegoers.
Perhaps another series of technological innovations could again spark consumer interest. Foreign cinemas like Japan’s “Korona World”, are tapping into audiences’ desire for enhanced cinema experiences with concepts like 3D sound (sound hitting viewers from many different angles) and 4D seating (seats that move and take cues from the film to interact with viewers).
Sadly, all signs point to the movie theatre system declining in 2014 unless it can remodel itself into something that modern moviegoers will accept.
In the face of new and exciting distribution models, will traditional networks branch out and take risks or become more conservative with their content? This is the huge question that must be answered this year.
While great shows like FX’s The Americans and ABC’s Scandal freshly appearing on the heels of instant classics like AMC’s Breaking Bad and Mad Men, the big networks must not fall victim to the same variety of thinking that plagues Hollywood. TV entered what many call the “new, new golden age of television” when all the creative types were pushed out of Hollywood by the blockbuster model enacted by studio execs to maintain the financial bottom line at the expense of quality films.
Are we seeing a similar phenomenon occur in modern TV? With shows like Better Call Saul diluting the purity of Breaking Bad and ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D representing little more than a futile exercise in corporate brand extension, this could be an alarming trend to keep an eye on in 2014.
Technology manufacturers are doing their best to keep up with changing mediums of content consumption. While “wearable technology” is the popular tech buzzword, TV manufacturers are trying to stoke up demand by announcing new developments that could render our TVs obsolete.
The first of these developments is the introduction of Ultra High Definition (UHD). All the technical jargon is way above my head, but apparently these TVs will have unprecedented clearness and vibrancy. However, one potential issue is the lack of content. But Netflix responded by announcing that it will stream House of Cards in UHD and stream all their new original programming in the format.
The second innovation to keep an eye on is the curving of your TV screen. LG, Samsung and Panasonic all unveiled curved screens at the beginning of this year. The manufacturers claim that the curvature provides better viewing angles and a more immersive TV experience.
Finally, the Smart TV will still be hot in 2014. The past few years have seen the rise of Smart TVs that bundle the traditional television experience with new innovations like web access and online media streaming. In 2014, the technology will only advance and become easier to use. Manufacturers announced more efficient Smart TV interfaces and new features like improved voice command.
One trend on the decline in 2014 is 3D TVs. Once thought to be the wave of the future, TVs that display in the third dimension will continue to lose popularity this year.
And there you have it. Those were the seven trends to watch in 2014. We are living in an exciting and innovative time for the film and TV industries. The coming year will only bring more changes and fascinating developments.
What are your thoughts on these trends? Comment below.