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Predictions 2011: Julia Boorstin On Media


1. Cable and satellite giants will resist cord-cutting.

College graduates won't sign up for cable subscriptions because of the wealth of free options, while cable providers—Cablevision and Comcast (which has agreed to acquire a majority stake in CNBC parent NBC Universal)—will wage a tough battle to keep consumers paying: offering more on-demand content on more devices like the iPad. They'll also offer lower-tier service, like Time Warner Cable's "TV Essentials." This bare-bones option isn't for tech-savvy kids with a Boxee box, but for lower-income Americans who can't afford sky-high monthly service bills.

2. Facebook will get bigger.

Facebook will infiltrate every part of our lives—every web page will be populated with your Facebook friends. And with the explosion of smart phones and Facebook's location app and deals, the service will be with us as we make real-world decisions, like where to go and what to buy. We can expect more privacy concerns, but those will likely dissipate as consumers realize that they do want to opt in. When it comes to profits, Facebook will leverage its advantage over Google—the fact that it's not anonymous, but based on real identities.

3. 3-D technology will decline in importance.

Higher-priced 3-D tickets may boost the box office, but they won't sell more tickets. Moviegoers will make choices based on a film's brand, not technology. Theater owners will differentiate themselves with premium services like restaurant-style food, or bars. And we'll see cinemas showcasing more concerts, operas, and video game tournaments.

4. Console game business set for big battle.

Major video game brands like Activision Blizzard's "Call of Duty" and Microsoft's "Halo" will continue to thrive, but second- and third-tier console games are in big trouble. All but core brands will face increasing competition from social games like "Farmville" and "Mafia Wars." As the next AppleiPhone enables more powerful gaming, giants like Electronic Arts and Activision Blizzard will adapt to the Zynga-dominated world and look to generate more revenue from subscriptions.

5. Celebrities will monetize their brands.

Celebrities, who both create and curate content, will increasingly monetize their brand value. Will Smith, Ryan Seacrest, Kim Kardashian, and the like will sell content and merchandise directly to fans. We may see some celebrities self-finance videos and distribute to consumers, cutting out media conglomerates. And even the smallest blogger will be able to sell products and reap the profits thanks to technology like OpenSky.

Let's go for an A minus.

  • I said consumers will have increasing control over how, where and when they consume content; the launch of Apple's iTV. Google TV and the Boxee Box is confirmation enough.
  • Some wesites did start charging, but there is still a free alternative to all the paid content.
  • I predicted that social media will grow and be increasingly influential—this was a no brainer, so I don't deserve much credit. Perhaps I didn't go far enough.
  • We've certainly seen a proliferation and fragmentation of content, but we aren't really seeing a change in the way professional content creators distinguish themselves and their product.