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Bingeing is the new normal

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A recent study has shown that TV viewers would rather have an entire season of their favourite show ready to stream instead of just being able to watch one episode per sitting.

Do you find yourself constantly saying “Just one more episode” when watching your favourite new series? A survey conducted on behalf of Netflix found that bingeing is a widespread behaviour, with 61% or respondents binge watching regularly.

If the common perception of binge watching was a weekend-long, pajama-wearing marathon of TV viewing, survey respondents don’t see it that way. A majority (73%) defined binge watching as watching between 2-6 episodes of the same TV show in one sitting. And there’s no guilt in it. Nearly three quarters of TV streamers (73%) say they have positive feelings towards binge streaming TV.

South Africa is no different, and findings from the first study dedicated to South Africa revealed some great data and fun facts. Netflix members around the world are certainly making their own rules when it comes to watching TV. Last year alone, they watched more than 140 million hours of TV shows, movies, documentaries, stand-up specials and more per day – that’s about one billion hours per week.

As a Nation, we fully embraced the age of Netflix on the 15th of October 2017, the most popular streaming day in 2017 locally, and a fun fact – a South African Netflix member watched Radio Rebel 191 times in 2017!

“Our viewing data shows that the majority of streamers would actually prefer to have a whole season of a show available to watch at their own pace,” said Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer of Netflix. “Netflix has pioneered audience choice in programming and has helped free consumers from the limitations of linear television. Our own original series are created for multi-episodic viewing, lining up the content with new norms of viewer control for the first time.”

The Shows South Africans Devoured in 2017

South Africans are no different when it comes to their bingeing habits, with escaping to a different reality and devouring (watching more than two hours per day) international titles the likes of Ingobernable, Suburra: Blood on Rome and Cable Girls. But not all escaped from reality – some embraced it and were left in suspense with crime documentary titles including The Confession Tapes, The Keepers and true-crime satire American Vandal.

  1. Ingobernable
  2. Greenleaf
  3. American Vandal
  4. Suburra: Blood on Rome
  5. Anne with an E
  6. The Keepers
  7. The OA
  8. The Confession Tapes
  9. Cable Girls
  10. Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later

The Shows South Africans Savoured in 2017

Apparently South African consumers need a laugh, but savour those laughs (watching less than two hours per day) at their own pace with shows like Dear White People, Big Mouth, You Me Her and Disjointed. They also took care to enjoy the splendor of The Crown (it is a visual feast fit for a queen after all).

  1. The Crown
  2. ASOUE
  3. Big Mouth
  4. Ultimate Beastmaster
  5. Disjointed
  6. Neo Yokio
  7. You Me Her
  8. One Day at a Time
  9. GLOW
  10. Friends from College

ADDITIONAL SURVEY FINDINGS INCLUDED:

  • 76% of TV streamers say watching multiple episodes of a great TV show is a welcome refuge from their busy lives
  • 65% of TV streamers said that if they took a digital time out, they would still want to watch TV
  • 80% of TV streamers say they would rather stream a good TV show than read a friend’s social media posts

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Smart home arrives in SA

The smart home is no longer a distant vision confined to advanced economies, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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The smart home is a wonderful vision for controlling every aspect of one’s living environment via remote control, apps and sensors. But, because it is both complex and expensive, there has been little appetite for it in South Africa.

The two main routes for smart home installation are both fraught with peril – financial and technical.

The first is to call on a specialist installation company. Surprisingly, there are many in South Africa. Google “smart home” +”South Africa”, and thousands of results appear. The problem is that, because the industry is so new, few have built up solid track records and reputations. Costs vary wildly, few standards exist, and the cost of after-sales service will turn out to be more important than the upfront price.

The second route is to assemble the components of a smart home, and attempt self-installation. For the non-technical, this is often a non-starter. Not only does one need a fairly good knowledge of Wi-Fi configuration, but also a broad understanding of the Internet of Things (IoT) – the ability for devices to sense their environment, connect to each other, and share information.

The good news, though, is that it is getting easier and more cost effective all the time.

My first efforts in this direction started a few years ago with finding smart plugs on Amazon.com. These are power adaptors that turn regular sockets into “smart sockets” by adding Wi-Fi and an on-off switch, among other. A smart lightbulb was sourced from Gearbest in China. At the time, these were the cheapest and most basic elements for a starter smart home environment.

Via a smartphone app, the light could be switched on from the other side of the world. It sounds trivial and silly, but on such basic functions the future is slowly built.

Fast forward a year or two, and these components are available from hundreds of outlets, they have plummeted in cost, and the range of options is bewildering. That, of course, makes the quest even more bewildering. Who can be trusted for quality, fulfilment and after-sales support? Which products will be obsolete in the next year or two as technology advances even more rapidly?

These are some of the challenges that a leading South African technology distributor, Syntech, decided to address in adding smart home products to its portfolio. It selected LifeSmart, a global brand with proven expertise in both IoT and smart home products.

Equally significantly, LifeSmart combines IoT with artificial intelligence and machine learning, meaning that the devices “learn” the best ways of connecting, sharing and integrating new elements. Because they all fall under the same brand, they are designed to integrate with the LifeSmart app, which is available for Android and iOS phones, as well as Android TV.

Click here to read about how LifeSmart makes installing smart home devices easier.

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Matrics must prepare for AI

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students writing a test

By Vian Chinner, CEO and founder of Xineoh.

Many in the matric class of 2018 are currently weighing up their options for the future. With the country’s high unemployment rate casting a shadow on their opportunities, these future jobseekers have been encouraged to look into which skills are required by the market, tailoring their occupational training to align with demand and thereby improving their chances of finding a job, writes Vian Chinner – a South African innovator, data scientist and CEO of the machine learning company specialising in consumer behaviour prediction, Xineoh.

With rapid innovation and development in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), all careers – including high-demand professions like engineers, teachers and electricians – will look significantly different in the years to come.

Notably, the third wave of internet connectivity, whereby our physical world begins to merge with that of the internet, is upon us. This is evident in how widespread AI is being implemented across industries as well as in our homes with the use of automation solutions and bots like Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana. So much data is collected from the physical world every day and AI makes sense of it all.

Not only do new industries related to technology like AI open new career paths, such as those specialising in data science, but it will also modify those which already exist. 

So, what should matriculants be considering when deciding what route to take?

For highly academic individuals, who are exceptionally strong in mathematics, data science is definitely the way to go. There is, and will continue to be, massive demand internationally as well as locally, with Element-AI noting that there are only between 0 and 100 data scientists in South Africa, with the true number being closer to 0.

In terms of getting a foot in the door to become a successful data scientist, practical experience, working with an AI-focused business, is essential. Students should consider getting an internship while they are studying or going straight into an internship, learning on the job and taking specialist online courses from institutions like Stanford University and MIT as they go.

This career path is, however, limited to the highly academic and mathematically gifted, but the technology is inevitably going to overlap with all other professions and so, those who are looking to begin their careers should take note of which skills will be in demand in future, versus which will be made redundant by AI.

In the next few years, technicians who are able to install and maintain new technology will be highly sought after. On the other hand, many entry level jobs will likely be taken care of by AI – from the slicing and dicing currently done by assistant chefs, to the laying of bricks by labourers in the building sector.

As a rule, students should be looking at the skills required for the job one step up from an entry level position and working towards developing these. Those training to be journalists, for instance, should work towards the skill level of an editor and a bookkeeping trainee, the role of financial consultant.

This also means that new workforce entrants should be prepared to walk into a more demanding role, with more responsibility, than perhaps previously anticipated and that the country’s education and training system should adapt to the shift in required skills.

The matric classes of 2018 have completed their schooling in the information age and we should be equipping them, and future generations, for the future market – AI is central to this.

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