Emerging Tech, Social Video, Trends & Insights

6 new digital distribution channels publishers should prepare for in their video strategy

Aug 8, 2017


Smartphones may be the most popular way consumers find video content now, but new platforms are constantly emerging and providing even more opportunities for publishers to gain visibility. Here’s a closer look at some of the newest ways audiences are accessing video content – some of which may be contenders to replace the smartphone (or at least compete with it) in the very near future. By creating content for these digital distribution channels early on, publishers will be able to stay ahead of the competition and reach these new audiences before anyone else.

1. Digital assistants like Echo Show

Research shows the AI-powered digital assistant market will surpass 4 billion consumer devices by the end of the year. That, of course, includes Amazon’s Echo Show, the digital assistant with a screen that debuted just two months ago. The addition of a screen means brands can tap into Alexa like never before – just ask publishers like CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg, Scripps and Time, who have already developed video-based skills for the new device. These players are after the first mover advantage in which they can potentially build an early user base and also figure out what kind of content works best on the platform – as well as how to monetize it. And that means other publishers may want to follow suit.

2. Smart TVs and Connected TVs 

According to data from research firm Nielsen, smart TVs are in an increasing number of US homes. To be precise, as of March 2017, 29% of all US TV homes had a smart TV, which is up from 22% in January 2016. And it’s not just for show: These households use smart TV apps more than 20 days a month – and they spend more than two hours per day watching them. As a result, TV-connected devices represent a new digital distribution channel that brings content to the TV set. Both traditional media companies and streaming companies are developing products for them, which is a good vote of confidence for other players not already doing so.

3. OTT streaming services 

Nielsen’s study mentioned above also found that over 23% of homes with TVs now own an OTT digital streaming device like Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast or Roku. That’s up from 19% in June 2016. What’s more, in January 2017, 21 million homes used one of these OTT digital streaming devices for an average of nearly 15 days a month – and they spent more than three and a half hours on these devices each time. So even if linear TV isn’t part of your digital video distribution strategy, OTT presents an entirely new way to piggyback and capture at least part of that audience – especially now that cordcutting is at an all time high.

4. VR headsets 

Research shows 6.3 million VR headsets shipped in 2016, which was perhaps below initial expectations, but nonetheless marks growth for a burgeoning industry. While most customers who have embraced VR so far are gamers, there’s certainly an opportunity with these video distribution channels to distribute even more immersive video content as the medium becomes more common. In our report on emerging news technologies, our surveyed respondents that had consumed the news through VR felt the most excited about it, and were the most likely to be millennials, than those that tried live video, chatbots, and wearables for the same purposes. So this is certainly a digital distribution channel that publishers should start investing in.

5. Amazon Video Direct

And then, of course, there’s Amazon, whose Video Direct program allows publishers to sell content in the Prime video store and earn royalties. In addition, Amazon Channels enables publishers to sell subscription services as add-on video channels. And, as noted with Echo Show, Amazon is certainly a powerful ally, if nothing else, which makes this particular avenue worth considering as well.

6. Video game consoles 

While the number of households with a video game console like Microsoft Xbox, Nintendo Wii or Sony PlayStation has remained unchanged year over year, Nielsen noted they are in use by more households than smart TVs or streaming devices. That’s 31% of homes, or nearly 37 million. These households use video game consoles to play games and stream video more than 15 days a month and for more than four hours each time. We also expect this number to increase once VR gaming becomes more popular (and embraced by the big names in gaming). And that, in turn, means publishers may find new audiences on these consoles as well.