Welcome To the last Baekdal Plus newsletter of 2019 (unless I happen to get bored between Christmas and New Years), but I have now published 25 Plus reports this year, totaling 684 pages.
Of course, if you are a Plus subscriber, you are not paying for the number of pages, but for the value of the Plus reports. But it's been quite a productive year.
And to help you start 2020 in a perfect way, I have two important things for you today.
The big thing I have for you today is my just published Plus report about the most significant macro trends that are and will be defining the future of publishing in 2020 and beyond.
I write these every year, and they are some of my most popular Plus reports.
What makes these reports unique is that I don't look at one year. I look at the bigger trends, patterns, and changes in consumer behavior, and dive into why these specific things will define what publishers need to focus on next.
In this year's report, I focus on six big trends, but they also add to the trends I talked about last year.
So, if you want to know where to focus next, this, I hope, you will find to be a good start.
Read: The big macro changes that define 2020 and beyond (for publishers)
The Plus report above is my recommendation to you as a media analyst. In other words, it's based on my analysis, not my opinion.
But what, in my opinion, would I like to see in 2020? What am I personally excited about? Well, there are a number of things.
First of all, I would really love to see more entrepreneurial journalism. I had a wonderful discussion about this with someone from 'The Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York' ... yeah, that's a mouthful :)
But entrepreneurial journalism is the most exciting area of journalism right now. It's exciting because it isn't trying just to create a bunch of articles for mass market. Instead, entrepreneurial journalism is all about building new ways of doing journalism and focusing on solutions. In fact, here in Europe, we don't say 'entrepreneurial journalism', we call this 'solution-based journalism'.
One example we talked about was if you wanted to start a newspaper in an area that was poor or suffering from problems like high-crime and people who have been in jail.
In an area like that, how would you work as a journalist? Would you just 'cover the news' like you do everywhere else, by telling people that "last night something happened on some street"?
No, that would not be of any use to anyone and it wouldn't change anything. Instead, you would start to think about how can we change this. And you do that by, instead of writing 'about' people, you start writing 'for' people.
This is what entrepreneurial journalism is about it. And, when you start to think about this, you realize that this is also the solution to the problem with local newspapers.
So I really hope to see much more of this in 2020.
Another thing I'm looking forward to is all the new things that YouTubers are up to ...outside of YouTube.
YouTube is still dominantly a great channel for most YouTubers (despite what many journalists seem to believe), but YouTube is also growing old. I don't mean by age but in terms of innovative new things.
YouTube is kind of turning into Netflix. It's a streaming channel that we all use, and ... and that's pretty much it. And because of this, we are seeing more and more YouTube Creators starting to expand their publishing focus outside of YouTube.
I'm super excited about this because what makes YouTube Creators special is that they are publishers just like you and me, but they have built up their businesses from scratch. Not by getting massive funding and billion dollar valuations from venture capitalists (like what we often see with other startups). They are bootstrapping every part of what they do, and slowly but surely creating something that works.
And now, they are taking this mindset and approach outside of YouTube, where they are building new types of media companies.
I don't think any of these creators will define 2020, but the trend that is emerging here is amazing. These people know how to engage and monetize an audience, and now they are trying to develop new businesses.
Just to give you two examples. One of the biggest tech YouTubers, Linus Tech Tips, is creating a video platform designed around your most loyal audience. And video producer, YouTuber, and VOX presenter Johnny Harris is creating a new learning channel around travel.
This is so exciting!
Another thing that I'm really looking forward to in 2020 is what will happen with the 'streaming wars'. Most journalists think this means the biggest players, like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO, Disney+, Apple TV+, and new entries into the market like Peacock and Guibi.
And yes, those are big players doing big things. But they are also kind of boring. All they are trying to do is just to be the next cable TV platform.
I like what Disney+ is doing, which I wrote about here, but I don't really care about this market. They are not doing anything new.
What I am instead very exciting about are 100s of independent, smaller, niche, focused, streaming things that are emerging. Channels that are not just trying to be a channel with a little bit of everything, like Netflix, but the channels that redefine the way we think about TV.
I'm not talking about the format. I'm not even talking about the platforms. I'm talking about defining a choice for people to make.
I don't really have a good example to show you, but I'm just very excited about this emerging market outside of Netflix and the other big players.
Speaking of which, podcasting is pretty exciting too. I'm one of the judges for this years "Publisher Podcast Awards". We have just been sent all the entries each of us has to judge, and I'm looking forward to listening to and reading about what new things publishers are doing with this.
However, as I have talked about before, I want podcasters to think beyond just the MP3 file that people play. What new things can we do here?
It's the same thing about smart speakers. So far, I have been pretty bored with them, because they generally aren't really that useful (from a media perspective). Part of the reason is that publishers are mostly just thinking about them as a speaker that people can play sound files from (in the form of news clips).
But there is a new era coming where we start to use smart speakers in a more interactive and 'demand' like way. I have talked about this many times in the past; I even made a concept video (2016) of a more intelligent smart speaker.
We are starting to see this happening now, but again, I don't think 2020 will be the year where this really comes into play.
Overall, though, 2020 and the next decade is generally something I'm very excited about. There are so many positive things happening, so many changes, and so many new things.
Sure, some people don't like change. But I do ...because overall it makes things better.
So Merry Christmas, and I'm not saying that in a religious way. I'm saying it in the way of ...OMG I have to eat so many Christmas cookies!
What happens to the future of news if everything just becomes an opinion?
The more we use automated tools, the more important it becomes to also create 'originals'
Young people will cancel and come back later... if you let them
Founder, media analyst, author, and publisher. Follow on Twitter
"Thomas Baekdal is one of Scandinavia's most sought-after experts in the digitization of media companies. He has made himself known for his analysis of how digitization has changed the way we consume media."
Swedish business magazine, Resumé