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These 6 Media Trends Will Shape the Industry in Bavaria in 2020

By Katrin Baumer

Which trends are crucial for the Bavarian media landscape in 2020? Who has already discovered new business areas and who is a pioneer in innovation? The following six points are a must for media professionals in 2020.

1. Audio: The Podcast Boom Continues

Podcasts were already a well-established trend in 2019 and popularity of the medium is very stable. According to a survey by digital federation Bitkom, one in every four German citizens listens to podcasts. A study by AS&S Radio has demonstrated that podcasts continue to gain popularity, the user group tends to be younger, and the acceptance of free content with advertisement is high amongst podcast listeners. The market is therefore becoming of increasing interest for advertisers.

An increasing number of companies from different areas are penetrating the podcast market. For the audio industry, this represents competition as well as an opportunity to open up new business fields and score points through expertise – for know-how is what both podcasts and the audio advertising industry need. In a field that is new to many providers, even the best idea can fail if it is not well implemented. The podcast industry offers many interesting options for agencies that specialize in audio and voice services. A recent example from Bavaria is Wake Word, a full-service agency founded in 2019 by two former radio professionals, Sven Rühlicke and Ruben Schulze-Fröhlich. This pair also offers services and advice in addition to their podcasts. They are convinced that brands in the future will not only need a visual logo, but also their own voice, which directly leads us to the second media trend of 2020.

2. Voice: Brands Become Loud

When was the first time you asked a voice assistant a question? For some people, this dates back to quite some time ago. And since then, a lot of things have changed. Technology has improved significantly and interactions with voice assistants can be very diverse. A recent study of the streaming provider Spotify for Brands revealed that more than 60% of Germans have already interacted with a voice assistant and more than 20% have a smart speaker.

This opens for brands a new market in which they can position themselves and become more visible. Branding in the future will be both visible and auditory. Convincing audio branding includes not only a sound logo and jingle, but can also respond to the question of: What does my brand sound like? What attitude does it have, what words does it use, and how can it get to be unique and recognizable?

It is no surprise that nowadays there are entire conferences dedicated to the topic of voice. The biggest European voice conference takes place in Munich: as the name already suggests, the “All about Voice” conference is about the developments, trends and best cases in the world of voice assistants.

In 2020 podcasts and voice will become more important for the audio industry.

3. eSports: The Transformation of the Games Industry

FC Nürnberg, FC Augsburg, and FC Bayern’s basketball department already got in the game. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge announced in December 2019 that the world of soccer is also now getting involved in eSports. However, for now, they’re only within the same branch. “KONAMI is our partner for soccer simulation games and is now launching KONAMI’s eFootball.Pro League. FC Bayern will take part in the league with its own team and partners Telekom, Allianz, and Siemens,” Rummenigge states.

More proof of the relentlessly growing popularity of eSports: in several eSports leagues such as the ESL (Electronic Sports League), MLG (Major League Gaming) and the ESWC (Electronic Sports World Cup), professional gamers compete against each other. The ESL is the largest international eSports event, with around two million active players partaking. Today, eSports tournaments fill large halls all around Germany.

The fact that gaming has ceased to be an isolated activity within one's own four walls is partly a consequence of changes in media consumption: gamers can be entertainers and streamers at the same time. Through online platforms like Twitch, YouTube, or Smashcast, they can reach millions of people worldwide. Why are these platforms so appealing? One reason could be is that viewers can now communicate live with gamers or moderators.

The broadcasting company SPORT1 sees great potential in the eSports market and new forms of broadcasting. In early 2019, it launched the subscription TV channel eSPORTS1, which broadcasts eSports around the clock, transmits tournaments, and allows viewers to watch commentators, studio discussions, and analyses.

4. Streaming & On Demand: New Players on the Market

Our new habits continue to change the TV industry. The streaming offer is constantly growing, and the number of users of Netflix and other providers is increasing. The recent Kantar study “TV-Plattform 2019-II” revealed that 58% of the German-speaking population uses online video offers. Furthermore, the number of people willing to pay for these services has grown from 7% in 2015 to 32% in 2019.

New players conquer a highly competitive market. Broadcasting company ProSiebenSat. 1 launched the streaming platform Joyn, which replaced its predecessor 7TV. “Joyn combines the competitors’ strength in one product,” states Thomas Münzner, Director of Content Acquisition at Joyn. Joyn provides a free platform for a young target group and a premium model (Joyn+) with fiction and non-fiction originals. For 2020, 12 in-house productions are planned, focusing on comedy and talents such as Katrin Bauernfeind and Klaas Heufer-Umlauf.

In the Kantar study, Joyn was voted amongst the Top 5 Streaming Services—after Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Dazn, and on par with TV Now from Mediengruppe RTL Germany.

The streaming market is still highly competitive.

5. XR: More than VR and AR

The name XR—Extended Reality—stands for immersive technologies and reveals that this area can cover much more than virtual or augmented reality (VR and AR). Whether it involves product presentations with VR models, training and further education via AR, discussions in a virtual meeting room, or unique experiences in the tourism sector, the areas of application are already broadly diversified and go far beyond the boundaries of the media industry. XR is not yet part of the mass market, but the technology is establishing itself in the media industry as a narrative medium, an extension, or even a tool for media consumption. The competition Virtual Worlds has been part of the Munich International Film Festival since 2019, which presents and gives awards to the most innovative and important international narrative VR Experiences.

The fact that the XR hype has subsided does not change its relevance. Rolf Illenberger, Director of the Bavarian start-up VRdirect, believes that now that the test phase is over, expertise within companies will increase and concrete application possibilities will emerge. Illenberger wants to give companies the opportunity to create and publish simple and affordable VR projects without any further programming skills.

VRdirect is one of many new players in the Bavarian VR scene. The recently founded association XR Bavaria aims to help them become more visible and create a stronger network. The Medien.Bayern GmbH has created the XR Hub Bavaria, with three branches in Munich, Würzburg, and Nuremberg. “The initiative of the Bavarian Ministry of Digital Affairs is to strengthen the start-ups and storytellers of the Bavarian XR ecosystem,” states Silke Schmidt, Manager of the Hub.

 

Bavaria is one of the top locations when it comes to AI professionals.

6. AI: Bavaria as a Leading AI Region

According to a LinkedIn study, Bavaria is the leading German location when it comes to AI experts. Munich employs 19% of all AI specialists and precedes even Berlin.

In November 2019, the Bavarian Minister-President Markus Söder announced the new technology campaign “Hightech-Agenda Bayern,” which aims to make Bavaria a top location for AI. The campaign has invested two billion euro into promoting artificial intelligence and supertech. Investment is also being made to support AI research. The government seeks to create 100 professorships for artificial intelligence and establish a new AI Mission Institute in Munich.

AI has long since arrived in journalism and provides support in areas such as speech or image recognition, word processing, spelling, and translation. Robot journalists are also already in use, with one example being the role they play in data evaluation and the presentation of sport competition results in text form.

The year of 2020 will reveal how the use of AI is becoming more professional in addition to the consequences this has for the media industry. AI and ethics continue to be a hot topic. To this end, the Technical University of Munich founded the Institute for Ethics in Artificial Intelligence in 2019, which is supported with funds from Facebook.

Michael Bartl, Managing Director of the Bavarian start-up Tawny, is convinced that digital systems will eventually be able to recognize human emotions. Tawny researches how artificial intelligence can detect the mental state of a person via their heart rate, body heat, or facial expression.