Eye Candy - Making Movies/Shows Shouldn't Be as Easy as Watching Them

Eye Candy - Making Movies/Shows Shouldn't Be as Easy as Watching Them

"In the 21st century, I think our phones are how we are wedded to the world. If so, it's probably a bad marriage." – Craig, "Mr. Harrigan's Phone," Netflix, 2022

Yes our smartphone is always with us because well we just don't want to miss out on...something. But for our kids it's more than just a communications device...it's their everything tool. That's especially true of their entertainment. Watching a show/movie is a snap for a Gen Zer but they're more likely to catch a dozen totally different 3–5 minute videos and then share what they saw with others. The problem is not everything they watch is factual, right or at times not even what they should see period. The challenge – for everyone – is to understand not all of it is just...entertainment.

TV has come a long way since it was first introduced by Philo Farnsworth in late 1927; but it wasn't recognized until the 1939 World's Fair when David Sarnoff, head of RCA, supposedly said, "Now we add sight to sound," on the first public TV broadcast.

Since then, the industry has continued to evolve as it educated, informed, entertained and, during the pandemic, undoubtedly saved the sanity of countless millions of folks around the globe.

Over the years, television was derided by snobs as the Idiot Box because you watched what was on, when it was on, and the content was usually dumbed down to appeal to – or at least not irritate– the broadest segment of the population.

But with the depth and breadth of today's video content, the screen evolved; and for many, it became indispensable.

Now we have, wait for it ... tada––the smart or CTV (connected TV)

Insert alt text here


 Big Screen – Consumers like smart TVs because they're easy to connect and set up so you can watch what you want, when you want it. Set manufacturers like them because they offer another revenue stream. Increasingly, smart home devices mean more money from your data. 

They must be a big deal because smart/connected TVs are projected to be a WW total of nearly 225M units, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

WARC Media reported Everyone is there so the CTV market is set to hit $26B in ad spend this year.

There's so much irresistible potential that Charlie Collier, president of Roku Media, told folks at the Ad Age Media Summit recently that the connected big screen is going to be the next computer or mobile phone.

The look into the future wasn't enough to make Roku's Los Gatos, CA neighbors (Netflix) to change its show/movie mix or how it managed flawless global distribution.

Despite the doom/gloom forecast, Apple's Tim Cook asked his manufacturing operations to increase their production of iPhones (1.5B users WW), iPads (60.5M WW) and Macs (100M WW).

Insert alt text here

 Connection Device – While today's smart phones also have voice capabilities, they are seldom used. It's easier to text someone and they can get back to you if and when they want. In addition, it's people's go–to information, entertainment screen. 

First of all, global mobile internet is now available to 95 percent of the population with at least 3G performance. Nearly 60 percent (4.3B people) of the population is connected to the mobile internet. In low– to middle–income countries (LMIC), mobile is their primary form of access.

And the device of choice? A smartphone.

Insert alt text here

 Flip It – Your first mobile phone was probably a flip phone. They were rugged, reliable and folks loved to show off when they were talking to someone on the go while walking, driving, in the office ... everywhere. 

Actually, the only person we know who still uses an analog phone is Gibbs in David Bellisario's long–running (20 years) series, NCIS.

Ever since smartphones hit mainstream, folks have been using them to post and consume video and the industry has focused on improving download speeds (4G/LTE/5G) to give people a better mobile video experience.

While speed is somewhat important, streaming providers know that latency and consistent throughput to avoid buffering are even more important.

Insert alt text here

Gen Z TV – When the younger generation wanted video entertainment, they turned to their smartphone. Then the older age groups found it was a great way to watch a few short–form videos or maybe waste an hour with a show or movie.

Netflix realized the importance of the two pain points early on, which is why they developed more bandwidth efficient encoders early on in conjunction with standard organizations like SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers). Just to ensure mobile users could enjoy high–quality video stories even if they didn't have the fastest connection possible.

In addition, they made their peering links more robust, developed intelligent caching systems and invested in other network optimization practices such as locating video servers across the globe to have content closer to the user.

Insert alt text here

 Mobile Video – To retain customers, mobile service providers have continued to add more robust bandwidth performance and consumers put the expanded service to good use. 

All of this added investment by the leading global video content providers has improved the viewer experience because today, Ericsson notes that 73 percent of mobile traffic is video, and it will increase to 76 percent in a couple of years.

Of course, for no particular reason, consumers expect to watch their content in 4K on their displays that are six inches or less diagonally. Even with 720/1080p HD content, you're consuming about 3GB of data per hour, which is okay if you have an unlimited data plan, but if not ... ouch!

To deliver quality and conserve your data plan, some CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) like YouTube automatically restrict/throttle video resolution.

So, contrary to Roku's vision of having the TV set as important to you as your computer and smartphone screen; somehow, we think that's wishful thinking ... and we're being kind when we say that.

Insert alt text here

 More, More – With the increasing availability and popularity of streaming, video consumers have increasingly turned to their smartphone for viewing––even if they are also watching content on their big screen. 

Apple's Cook is pretty sure everyone will continue to have their smartphone with them all the time and is busy designing and planning next year's iPhone 16. He is also going to continue offering new iPhone users with a free year's access to the growing Apple TV+ library.

Disney reported that during the first 24 hours of their service launch their mobile app was downloaded 3.2M times, while Netflix says that 25 percent of their streaming is mobile.

Of course, it was the younger crowd that led to the need to watch video on their smartphone, according to Leichtman Research Group. Their eyes are still good enough to watch the lilliputian screen.

LRG reported that 83 percent of the 18–34–year–olds watched video on non–TV devices but even "oldsters" got with it – 64 percent of the 35–54 crowd and 35 percent of those 55 and older. More than half of the respondents said they watch smartphone videos daily.

According to the latest data from Leichtman Research Group (LRG), almost 6 in 10 (59% of) US adults watch video on non–TV devices such as mobile phones, home computers, tablets and e–readers – every day,. This is up from 54% last year and is more than triple the proportion (18%) from a decade ago.

Not surprisingly, it's youth who are most apt to watch video every day on a non–TV device: 83% of 18–34–year–olds reported doing so, up from 81% last year.

However, there's been more growth among their older counterparts: 64% of those ages 35–54 watch video on a non–TV device daily, up from 59%, as do 35% of those ages 55 and older (up from 25%).

More than half of the respondents said they watched mobile video daily.

Insert alt text here

 Together Time – It's still great for families to get together in the evening to share a little TV bonding time. We may all be there but with streaming video, we all have our own entertainment choices. 

Back in "ancient" times, the smartphone used to be referred to as the second screen, something you had with you while watching TV ... just in case.

You know, something you used to watch/check during TV commercials.

But with social media, texting and web browsing, people increasingly multitask, blurring their watching sports, news, shows and movies on their big screen along with everything happening in real time on the phone in your hand.


 Kids Change Everything – For families that have children – especially when they're teenagers – what is watched on the screen suddenly changes because they have different priorities than the adults in the household.  

Yeah, the viewing – and content – changed dramatically when the kids came home.

First, it was the vision of social media bringing everyone closer together around the world.

A helluva an idea ... if everyone is talking with everyone else, things should be better. 

Insert alt text here

 Short Form – Social media has quickly evolved from written comments on what you've been doing and seeing to videos that educate, entertain and inform. The short form videos have expanded from 30 seconds to 10 minutes as Gen Zers strived to gain followers and develop an income. They have also become a means of highlighting many of the bad things in our world.  

The social networks started simply enough, distributing text and photos on the likes of Facebook and Instagram which kids and later adults began viewing and reading constantly.

But YouTube quickly became the personal and professional short video service of choice with 500 hrs. of video uploaded every minute and 15B global views every day.

Since then, TikTok has become an important short video – initially 1 min then 3 min, now 10 min – go to site for social media wanna' be influencers and marketers intent on reaching the 1.7B of worldwide users. 

Insert alt text here

 Mobile Views – Streaming services like Netflix, YouTube and Disney continue to dominate bandwidth on the internet but social media video demand is steadily rising. 

The video social media sites have been a natural for studios, content providers and streamers to effectively promote their new content to the Gen Z crowd. Even Instagram and Snapchat enjoyed increased usage while locations like Facebook, Twitter (X), WhatsApp and Tumblr became the ho–hum go–to locations for the old folks.

That was just fine because everyone had their informational/entertainment options. 

Insert alt text here

 Not so News – People are increasingly using their mobile devices to watch shows/movies, stay in touch and be entertained and increasingly to keep abreast of local, national and global news. The online services have increasingly become a place where they can easily spread their flavor of misinformation.  

Of course, that wasn't enough for the techie crowd that unleashed their family of great generative AI tools to benefit humanity.

Sure, we still have the sanity of our streaming video sites and portions of our social media and news sites, but it's becoming increasingly difficult to tell fact from fiction and fairy tales from grim tales.

We understand SAG–AFTRA's bid for more money and for studios'/streamers' desire to keep more for themselves and their shareholders.

It's human nature and what happens ... happens.

But the real river too dangerous to cross is the voice/video AI bit.

We're somewhat certain that some of the studio/streamer executives are earnest when they say, "Hey we won't use your voice or likeness unless you're properly compensated and understand what we're doing."

Oh sure, the EU, US Congress and governments in most responsible countries have published variations of the NO FAKE ACT to protect people and ensure folks act responsibly.

Are you kidding us?

Bad guys/gals love the new technology designed to make your life easier, better.

Catch President Obama's synthetic likeness/discussion, or Tom Hanks', Gayle Kings', Oprah's likenesses pitching stuff, or worse the atrocities being caried out around the world and posted on social media condemning one side or how bout those videos of the girl down the hall?

It's at the point where honest, dedicated news professionals are challenged on everything they write/photograph, no matter how mundane.

And we haven't even warmed up to the elections around the country, around the globe.

Sure, TikTok, YouTube, Tinder and the rest of the social sites have fantastic synthetic media policies that say you can't make/post that stuff ... so what?

So, you put these powerful, self–learning, self–healing tools in the hands of amateurs, pervs and lazy quick–buck artists and what happens?

The cheapfake AI tools don't have a conscience, don't have empathy, don't differentiate right from wrong.

Heck, they don't even have feelings.

And at some level, they want to be the best fake possible. And if they haven't already, will undoubtedly evolve to the point where they to where they think they're important and must survive and thrive.



Did you see HAL in 2001? 


 Good, Bad – According to most of the folks pushing the use of their AI tools, technology can make life easier and better for us all. However, in the wrong hands, it can do more harm than good.  

Remember Oscar Wilde's essay ... "Life imitates art far more than art imitates life."

Artificial Intelligence holds the promise of a lot of benefits that can improve humankind; but it is just as flawed as humans because we developed, refined, nurtured it and are releasing it as rapidly as possible everywhere to do good or ... 

Insert alt text here

People have never developed something like this that is so flexible, benign and capable of doing so much–– actually anything we want, without strongly defined guardrails and a real understanding of what we want it to be and do.

The best we can say is to repeat Craig's reflection in Mr. Harrigan's Phone when he said, "I do know one thing, however, and it's as solid as New England rock. When I die, when it's my time to go, I wanna be buried with empty pockets."

The industry has made a lot of progress over the years creating, developing, producing and distributing mind–boggling entertainment.

We just want this storyline to have a happy ending.

Andy Marken – andy@markencom.com – is an author of more than 800 articles on management, marketing, communications, industry trends in media & entertainment, consumer electronics, software, and applications. An internationally recognized marketing/communications consultant with a broad range of technical and industry expertise especially in storage, storage management and film/video production fields; he has an extended range of relationships with business, industry trade press, online media, and industry analysts/consultants. 


Imagine Products Integrates ShotPut Pro and TrueCheck With Frame.ioMedia Collaboration Hubread more


Result Is Orders-of-Magnitude Improvement to Workflows for Offloading, Transcoding, and Uploading of Media Files

Anevia Drives Expansion of Argentinian OTT TV Serviceread more


One of Argentina’s leading telecommunication service providers has renewed its trust in Anevia, a leading provider of OTT and IPTV software solutions, for the expansion of its multiscreen TV service.

TVkey Cloud, developed by NAGRA and Samsung, wins Pay-TV Service Innovation of the Year at the VideoTech Innovation Awardsread more


• TVkey Cloud, recognized by industry leaders as “a much better way to watch television”, brings secure premium pay-TV services directly to Internet-connected smart TVs quickly and efficiently – no external device needed • For consumers, TVkey Cloud enables instant activation out-of-the box and direct access to pay-TV services and their favorite OTT apps • For operators, TVkey Cloud enables lower acquisition costs, extended reach to a new consumer segment and an operator-branded aggregated viewing experience on smart TVs