The Dystopian Era
When I started in the industry in the 1990s I dreamed of a future where video was ev- erywhere and completely accessible, unleashed by the power of the internet. It would be a utopia. We’d be unchained from the dayparting broadcast
schedule that drew lines between ages and taste in the
living room. We’d have a world of choice at our fingertips that we could decide when and where to consume.
That’s the scary ending to the sci-fi novel we’re now
living in—it’s come true. That’s why this year’s
Sourcebook theme hints at “Videogeddon” and survival.
For many companies in our industry, right now is a
defining moment. No longer are the childish dreams
of great ideas worth more than a real business. No
longer is it OK to just give away product to big-name
companies in the hopes of being acquired. 2018 is
most certainly where the rubber is meeting the road.
While the glamour of being an online video startup is
being shelved like Sourcebooks of our industry’s youth,
fiscal responsibility is becoming scripture. Don’t get
me wrong; there’s lots of room for success, innovation, and new business models, but for those looking
for an industry in which to become an overnight sensation, that moment has been
flicked upward like a post on
your social media feed—it’s
Without further innovation
and stronger business strategies,
we run the risk of letting only the
Amazon, Netflix, Google, and
Apple—thrive, leaving everyone
else scrounging through the
detritus for scraps in the post-Videogeddon landscape. That’s
scary, but it’s also thrilling.
I feel like those of us in the
industry can really roll up our
sleeves now. It’s time to set
aside Silicon Valley fantasies
of ping-pong tables, bean bag
chairs, and IPOs and to focus
on something old-fashioned but
never outdated: treating your business like a business.
Scrutinize what appears to be free; everything has a
price. Improve on what you have rather than rebuild-
ing it over and over. Be responsible, video industry
citizens, and you won’t end up giving everything up
to an Orwellian future where we no longer get a say.
Remember that this industry has its origins in freeing
video from the limitations of traditional media; let’s
not just hand it back over again.
So where’s the game this year? It won’t take many
pages in this Sourcebook to understand. First of all,
look at the gear. There are so many face-melting tools
that put so much power in a video creators’ hand, it’s
hard to know where to start. What about OTT? Well, the
door has been opened with APIs, so there’s no turning
back now. But that’s OK. Look to companies that can
figure out how to organize video for consumers: Artificial intelligence (AI) is this year’s buzz phrase, and
with good reason. It’s a huge opportunity that will open
new horizons, but it’s no panacea. Do yourself a favor:
Buy the T-shirt, but be careful about the Kool-Aid you
decide to taste. And what about corporate video? The
major webinar companies are finally ditching Flash
And then there’s encoding.
Yes, video is going to look better and be delivered faster than
ever before, but that’s a race
with no finish line, and it’s not
going to make the biggest news
this year. Want to know what
is? It’s who survives in this industry as a successful business.
And if you read this
Sourcebook, my guess is, you’ll be one
of them. It’s the right tool for
—Joel Unickow, VP & Publisher