In Strategic Foresight, Scenarios are collaboratively developed, narrative accounts of possible future situations. Scenarios do not constitute strategic planning but precede and inform it, by describing potential environments in which firms, organizations and individuals will operate. Scenarios explore and amplify selected Signals, Trends and Drivers in the emerging STEEPV landscape. Scenarios do not represent “predictions” but rather possibilities that may come to pass.

Scenarios 2x2 matrix diagram

The 2020 Media Futures scenarios were developed through a series of workshops in Winter 2010–11 with input from the project partners as well as professional representatives from Ontario's creative and entertainment cluster. Together, we discussed key trends relevant to the cluster, and what is driving them.

We developed a 2x2 scenario matrix based on two independent, critical uncertainties, in order to ask, What will our media be like by 2020 if, in the environment for the creative industries,
  • Value generation is increasingly corporate; or increasingly social?
  • Innovation diffusion is slow and risk averse; or extremely rapid and disruptive?

Scenario Summaries

Ministry of Investment Illustration by Ryan LakeMinistry of Investment
A commercially driven, risk-averse environment dominated by the two biggest telecommunications companies in the country, who move in lock step with each other. Bell and RBC have merged, forming RogersMedia's only competitor. Customers sign exclusivity contracts, and are locked into different content distribution cycles as a result. Paying for access is the same as paying for content. >Explore this scenario

Lords of the Cloud Illustration by Ryan LakeLords of the Cloud
A commercially driven world of rapid technological innovation and adoption, affording new configurations of media partnerships, platforms and processes. Travel is rare but litigation is common. The venerable CBC has foreign majority ownership and Murdoch Group has purchased the BBC. >Explore this scenario

Anthill Illustration by Ryan LakeAnthill
A Canadian media context characterized by slow-paced adoption of innovations, and an insubstantial level of funding for media development. Some welcome the inertia, embracing the “slow media” movement and eschewing “big content,” while others remain frustrated with the lack of opportunities for more traditional success. Canada has developed an Internet kill switch and policy designers work on a New Communications Act. >Explore this scenario

Wedia Illustration by Ryan LakeWedia
A world of rapid, disruptive, and socially driven change which sees many large institutions dissolve in the face of new forms and channels for invention and entrepreneurialism. Major content providers including CBC have splintered into fragmentary units manned by individual producers who do their own distribution. Ad campaigns and other long-term creative productions are increasingly rare, but remix is both rampant and legal. >Explore this scenario

The four worlds created at the corners of this matrix reflect contemporary hopes and anxieties within Ontario's media economy. Primarily, they articulate the many tensions between top-down and bottom-up content producers, the uncertain future of major media institutions like the CBC, and the role of big-name telcos in media infrastructure and distribution. The 2020 scenarios explore issues in future media from the perspective of Apti Riel, a protagonist who exists in all four narratives. Apti is a woman in her late thirties. In each narrative, Apti has a job relevant in some way to the Creative Cluster, and interacts with other related professionals.

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Industry Roundtables and Scenarios Workshops

We wish to thank the project partners and professional contributors from the creative cluster who have attended our events and generously given their time and expertise.

Scenarios Facilitators and Authors

Madeline Ashby (Anthill)
Spencer Saunders (Ministry of Investment)
Karl Schroeder (Wedia)
Suzanne Stein (Lords of the Cloud)
Greg Van Alstyne (Project Lead)

Additional Project Team Members

Dr. Robert K. Logan
Peter Lyman
Lenore Richards
Kristian Roberts
Kathleen Webb

Prepared by

Strategic Innovation Lab (sLab)(external link), OCAD University(external link)

2020 Media Futures is made possible with the support
of the Ontario Media Development Corporation on
behalf of the Ministry of Culture