By Tim Jackson, Senior Vice President Sales & Marketing, the Americas at Globecast
We are living in a golden age of content. Initiated by the likes of HBO and now being driven hard by Netflix, Hulu et al. (glossing over the Netflix recent market-disappointing subscriber growth figures), as far as the consumer is concerned, there’s never been more premium quality content available. Major stars have either returned to TV formats or are working in the medium for the first time. This is clearly a good thing. Old TV series have gained new life on OTT platforms – Netflix’ “reissue” of the entire series of Friends this year is a case in point.
But there are obvious market complexities and ongoing challenges for traditional linear TV brands versus these new OTT players. How much of that is about the content itself and how much is it about the accessibility of that content?
There’s no question that the big OTT players like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime have changed the way in which consumers watch what they watch: binge-watching is a prime example of that. But it’s interesting to note that when I attended the Pay TV show in Denver, Colorado earlier this year, one of the key takeaways from the show was that though subscriber losses are indeed affecting the world of traditional TV (cord-cutting), some 53 percent of US viewers now use an over-the-air broadcast antenna to complement their OTT subscriptions. And that number is growing.
As James Hayr, Head of Global Sales, Endemol Shine Group, wrote in a blog post on the Drum earlier this year: “The explosion in the number of distribution platforms, from Netflix to GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon) and many more, is creating endless opportunities for viewers to access an increasingly diverse wealth of content. For us, these are complementary to, not instead of, traditional TV viewership: which continues to hold up.”
As we all know, television viewing patterns have changed and continue to do so. We know that across the world, consumers are accessing both linear TV and other video content on multiple devices. In terms of market complexities, this is compounded by generational differences: Millennials are strapped to their social media apps and are far more likely to celebrate the rise of the latest YouTube sensation as they are to celebrate Season 2 of The Handmaid’s Tale. This is a challenge for existing broadcast brands as well as new OTT platforms.
Linear TV still unarguably scores in live events like the royal wedding and with major sports events coverage: The Olympics and The Superbowl spring to mind along with the huge television event that was the recent FIFA World Cup. But, of course, you need to still build additional content around that appointment television to successfully compete.
Content providers – be that for OTT, linear or social – need to understand their audience and to be able to concentrate on making content that is both suitable for those audiences and available across all appropriate platforms in suitable resolutions and formats and with appropriate metadata. That’s not only within a domestic market, but internationally too, finding audiences, wherever they may be, on a global basis. That may well entail additional formatting, subtitling, language variants and so on. Then there’s the effective promotion of that content via platform-appropriate clips, teasers and brand recognition.
It’s all about content – and by extension – brand reach and the ultra-efficient monetization of that content. What’s vital for our customers is reaching consumers in the manner that they demand. This requires the use of apps distributed across multiple channels, as well as the licensing of content across multiple platforms. As I say, what we’re talking about here is the efficient monetization of content.
It’s very easy to understand how this can seem overwhelming to some content providers. As a service provider, a core aim of ours is to partner with our customers to help them understand these ongoing market shifts and to help them develop these cross-platform– and global reach – content monetization capabilities. Central to that is to allow us to handle the technical challenges associated with this, allowing our customers to concentrate on content development; to do what they are good at doing. They can focus on content creation rather than having to focus on the operational and engineering side of things. We make it possible for content owners and rights holders to focus on maximizing the quality of their output, making sure it’s as good as it can be in the first place, and then we help make it as available as possible on as many platforms and devices as possible. You know what, I’m going to say it: content is still king.