mrmohock / Shutterstock.com
Image: mrmohock / Shutterstock.com
Remember the time when watching series and films meant sitting in front of the telly or going to the cinema? At the time, it was just what you were used to – not great, but the way things were. If it were to happen today, you’d probably be complaining about the inconvenience of not being able to watch your favourite show anywhere or having to wait until the re-run of an episode you missed.

In terms of watching video content, the internet has of course changed so many things. We went into buffer zone with YouTube in 2005, getting to see videos of the best comic book characters of all time at two second intervals before having to load up again. Then we saw the rise of Myspace and Facebook, and today we’re in a wonderful world where we can stream music, play high-quality games, and socialize all at the click of a button, almost instantaneously.

Every day the internet is expanding faster than the waistline of Elvis in the late ‘70s. And this year we will welcome in the zettabyte era. According to the CISCO Visual Networking Index, in 2016 the total of internet traffic will surpass one zettabyte by the end of this year and will reach double that size by the end of 2019. One zetabyte is 1000 exabytes (one exabyte is 1000 petabytes and so forth). To put it bluntly, it’s a heck of a lot of data.

In fact, an exabyte is the equivalent of streaming the entire Netflix catalogue 3,177 times, which is interesting because most of the internet’s traffic, is in fact, video.

Streaming Mania
We’re currently using over 8,000 petabytes every month in video alone online, and the amount of streaming content that crosses global networks every second would take five years to watch. But why? Has video become that important to us?

Well, yes, and for a variety of reasons. Not only are we streaming our favorite TV channels now but video blogging is also now a huge business, with some bloggers even earning over $6,000 simply by mentioning a specific product.

The rise in popularity of Twitch is massive. In terms of user loyalty, it has already surpassed YouTube, as the average user of Twitch watches 9 hours and 10 minutes of video on the platform per month, versus 7 hours for each of the 1 billion YouTube users. The important difference between the two popular video platforms is that Twitch focuses on live streaming, versus YouTube’s tendency to go with the old, trusty uploading of videos. At the same time, mobile apps like Periscope for Android and iOS are gaining in popularity, with more than 10 million downloads and 350,000 hours of video streamed every day.

Twitch and e-gaming
Users are flocking to live streaming apps to both watch and stream themselves. The popularity of Twitch channels is taken as trustworthy indication of internet interests and trends themselves. Right now, video gaming and e-sports are still the most popular category, and Twitch recently launched a visual arts-oriented initiative. Artists can now stream their creative process in real time and connect with their audience in a brand new way.

The most popular channels on Twitch right now are still e-gaming-related. The numbers are impressive, with almost 2.124 million followers of the Riot Games stream, which broadcasts LoL tournaments, and more than 19 million views for captain sparklez, whose stream is Minecraft-related.

But it’s not all League of Legends, Counter-Strike and the like. There’s also a rising trend for live streaming of poker events and tournaments. Some users have proven themselves to be naturals to not only play interesting strategies but also comment on them at the same time. For instance, Jason Somerville, who’s a member of Team PokerStars and also proud owner of a World Series Of Poker bracelet, has over 9.5 million in total views on his Twitch account. He broadcasts real-time tournaments and games, as well as tutorials and tips for poker aficionados.

The future of internet video is bright. We’re already seeing changes taking us to another level on the internet from interactive videos to augmented reality, to cloud gaming. Let’s take a look at the most exciting things to develop online and take us into another golden era for the internet.

Interactive YouTube
As a technology, interactive YouTube has been around for a little while now but so far, few people have utilized it in the right way. One brand who definitely has is Honda, and while this may not be as exciting to read as it is to watch, there’s no doubt that this will become huge over the next few years.

Honda’s The Endless Road campaign set a precedent for interactive YouTube videos, despite being an incredibly simple concept. Using a clever loop, the video locates you and tells you the weather forecast and what time it is, while comparing it to other major cities across the world. Just don’t watch it for too long or it will make you dizzy.

The future will see more of the same, but that could go beyond advertising and into on-demand TV, YouTube gaming, and our favourite, video blogging.

Augmented Reality
The rise of virtual and augmented reality is really beginning to take off with the likes of Oculus Rift and Sony’s Project Morpheus highly anticipated.

For those who aren’t aware, augmented reality is a view of a real-world environment, whose elements are supplemented by computer generated input. In the case of Microsoft and its recently unveiled Super Bowl ad, it certainly seems like it’s come from the future. This campaign launched in early February and showcases the potential of Microsoft’s HoloLens in experiencing the Super Bowl like never before. Stats, replays and holograms pop up before users’ eyes while they are still watching the game.

With a number of different options on offer, this is also a message from Microsoft to developers saying – “the HoloLens is here, the toolkit is here, better get moving before someone else steals your place in the spotlight with their app”. It certainly is a promising concept: The first holographic, augmented reality computer. We can’t wait.

It’ll Get Even More Social

Freedom Studio / Shutterstock.com
Image: Freedom Studio / Shutterstock.com
Experts are continually saying the future of social media is in video. And they aren’t wrong. You don’t need to be a social media expert to load up your Facebook and see a stream of videos down your news feed.

The likes of Vine and YouTube are sneaking into our feeds more and more, and that’s only going to continue. We’re becoming more and more visual by the minute with our content. Twitter users share more than 700 YouTube videos every minute, while GIFs are more than clogging up feeds.

On Facebook over the last year we’ve seen the number of shared posts rise, even surpassing YouTube late last year with around an incredible 75,000 shares in December 2014. And according to a chart published by Socialbakers, it’s going to keep the same trajectory.

And we can expect plenty more from video as technology continues to improve. The internet is reaching new devices, we have smartwatches hitting the market now, and Google Glass is well in the making, meaning video will have to adapt to suit our new online needs. It transitioned across to mobile seamlessly, and will undoubtedly will again.

As for traditional web, video will become more and more interactive and sharable every day. In terms of gaming, it could be a game-changer, with us able to augment real-world environments into our games, with the help of Oculus Rift and the like, to kick start what could be a new trend.

Wherever it goes however, it’ll be unexpected. Technology never ceases to amaze (let’s face it; we’re still in awe of Netflix). What we do know however is that it’ll all be social, and it’ll all be high-quality and high-definition. Social media will be the driving force, and of course we, the users, will be the drivers. But where are we going to take it? It’s a long road ahead…

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