Exploding Internet Traffic Will Lead to Opportunities – Not Just Gridlock

When looking at the figures bandied about in the Cisco Systems forecast below about the projected increased demand in traffic, it is easy to just look at it in terms of what information is being sent out to viewers/consumers.  What may be lost is the opportunity for considerable growth in what is sent back out from the end user.  First let’s take a look at this simple summary from Wayne Karrfalt of Cynopsis Digital:

There’s not much denying that streaming premium video is contributing to a huge increase in traffic being generated online. (Netflix is now blamed for nearly a quarter of it in the U.S.) A new forecast from Cisco Systems predicts that traffic will just about double by 2015 to reach 200 exabytes; that’s 39 times what it was in 2005. The impact of web-enabled TVs is palpable – by 2015, TVs will account for over 15% of global consumer internet traffic (up from 3% in 2010), and 28% of internet video traffic (up from 7% in 2010). More users and the proliferation of tablets, mobile phones, connected appliances and other smart machines are also driving up the demand for connectivity. By 2015, there will be nearly 15 billion network connections via devices and more than two connections for each person on earth. Globally, mobile data traffic will increase 26 times between 2010 and 2015.

The item that may be glossed over is not just the increased connectivity for TVs in the home, but the public’s adoption of what that connectivity brings.  The summary above seems to encapsulate the concerns about the growing traffic constraint on sometime limited pipelines, but if you look at the fact that the expanded traffic is directly proportional to viewers’ acceptance and use of streamed content on their home “big screens”.  That increased connectivity is truly a huge window that is opening for two way communication during viewing.

Right now, connected TVs are in their rudimentary phase with apps available that seem to keep all content siloed – you can’t have apps open while watching shows and many have bad UI.  If content is streamed, it might still be a passive experience, but it is certainly more involving than just flipping through channels.  While the report does speak to increased video consumption using mobile, tablets and other connected devices, many of those are inherently two-way communication tools, but TV has been lagging – though products have been available to enable interaction since before Mobile phones were fitting into consumers’ pockets.

Might this growth that Cisco is projecting lead to even greater interactivity for all content that is viewed on the plasma without a second device?  I think that the developers (and perhaps, more precisely, the brand managers) need to create relevant interplay opportunities – both technically and narratively – to make this happen.  A few entities are working at it, such as Google and ITV or set-top box manufacturers, but the studios and content creators are a little slow to the table to find the successful ways to harness the true power of interactivity or even just social connectivity. Can you imagine seeing real-time thumbs up or thumbs down on the screen during a performance on American Idol or seeing everyone’s thoughts on a badly called play during a football game while it is still under official review? In many instances, the technology is already there, but the entities who can pull the trigger to put them in place either don’t get it, are too timid to launch it, or don’t have the ability to set in place a long-term strategy for actually serving its needs. Ultimately, the development goes where the money is – sadly not the other way around – but if Cisco’s projections hold true, there will certainly be the numbers to support the development of the content as well as the platform as a whole.

Almost forgot, this doesn’t even include social gaming on TVs like the just reported upcoming release of Angry Birds for web-enabled TV with Tokyo…

I eagerly await the time when those who are ahead of the curve now will be the norm for everyone in five to ten years – if not less.

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