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Taking TV and media back to the future

When I was a teenager, I was a veritable bookworm. I read thrillers, drama and, last but not least, science fiction. It always triggered my imagination the way the great sci-fi writers managed to bring the issues and challenges of current society into an alien or future setting. I was also mesmerized by TV series such as Star Trek and movies such as Star Wars and Back to the Future. Yes, I was, and still am, a true nerd! Jumping forward in time some three decades or so, I don’t really read books much at all anymore, but I can still experience these sci-fi gems through today’s rapidly growing supply of video on-demand services. As I re-watched an old original Star Trek episode the other day, I grudgingly had to admit that not everything has aged well. In fact it was hard to concentrate on the storyline, since the clothing, hairstyles and special effects in those early episodes felt like the show took place in the 1960’s instead of more than 200 years in the future. Maybe it was this central place of technology and science fiction in my own media habits that triggered me and my colleagues at Ericsson ConsumerLab to take on the future of media consumption in a way we have never done before.

Research Leader Industry Lab

Taking TV and media back to the future

Research Leader Industry Lab

Research Leader Industry Lab

Looking to the future in the TV and Media 2017 report

In our TV and Media 2017 report – our eighth annual one – we decided to peer into the future by analyzing current consumer habits and attitudes coupled with some future-looking technology trends.

We wanted to understand not only where the current trend towards on-demand viewing will by 2020, but also how the evolution of watching TV and video on mobile devices will continue to evolve. And finally, we wanted to understand more about a real media game-changer: virtual reality.

Are consumers ready to jump into the world of VR and continue their media consumption there?

More on-demand, more mobile

So, what was the outcome of our work? Already today, more than 40 percent of total active viewing is on-demand, dominated by streamed on-demand longform content such as movies and TV series, but with a significant portion made up of user generated content, typically found in services like YouTube and Facebook. By 2020 however, we estimate that on-demand viewing will continue to grow and reach close to 50 percent of the total active viewing. A significant portion of this growth will happen amongst the younger generations but even the oldest group in our study, the 60-69 year olds, will increase their on-demand viewing by almost 30 percent compared to 2010. On-demand is no longer only for the nerds and the young!


The evolution of viewing across different devices is evolving in a similar fashion. Back in 2010 when we began our annual study, fixed screens such as the TV screen and the desktop computer screen made up no less than 70 percent of the total viewing, with the rest being on a mobile screen (laptop, smartphone and tablet). Today that ratio has shifted so that mobile screens make up more than 40 percent of the total viewing, and by 2020 it will have increased to 50 percent. Perhaps even more interestingly, most of that growth is happening on the smartphone, which will make up no less than 25 percent of the total viewing time by 2020.

People want VR

And what about VR? Isn’t VR just going to be another 3D flop? Well, no – we beg to differ! While consumers see room for improvement also for VR, the attitudes and habits amongst current users are vastly different from what we saw when interviewing early adopters of 3D screens back in 2012. Back then, most of them expressed deep dissatisfaction with the experience and lack of content, and they rarely used 3D, if at all. In contrast, VR users are much more satisfied, and almost 40 percent use their VR headsets on a daily basis, and another almost 40 percent use them once per week!

And when we asked consumers about their VR adoption plans, as many as one-third expect to become VR users by 2020.

Overall, the potential of these changes in consumer habits is immense. Imagine a world where we all have access to VR headsets, enabling us to share a virtual reality “Netflix and chill” moment with friends or relatives in a different part of the world! I just wish I could travel to 2020 immediately, so that I could experience it right away - All I need to do now, is to get my Back to the Future DeLorean up to 88 mph!

Take a deep dive into the TV and Media Report

Want to get the full insights on content discovery, VR, and mobile and on-demand trends out to 2020?  Read the report, or you can listen to my podcast on the subject below!


Listen the podcast here.

A heartfelt thank you to Jamie Davies at for your poetic coverage of our Media report: An Ode to Ericsson – Shall I compare thee to a binge-watching day?

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