Viewing habits are changing. The youth of today, young adults and a growing number of the Baby Boomers are no longer only interested in the redistribution of original TV shows online. They are discovering alternative forms of on-screen entertainment to the currently $334bn-plus revenue global TV business we’ve known for 60 years.
We’re not talking about the death of broadcast, cable or satellite networks, as some investment pundits provokingly seek to promote. In fact, if any umbilical cord-cutting has been taking place, it is to welcome new life forms called the ‘original professional online video’ and the ‘new digital content market’. And with that comes a new generation of thinkers, the people whose role it is to structure and monetise these industries — The Digital Strategists.
A number of these Digital Strategists have contributed to this report, giving interviews that offer insight into how structure and strategy is being brought to this new digital content market. Viacom’s senior vice-president Philip Bourchier O’Ferrall thus explains that “every piece of content that Viacom creates must be multiplatform and mobile first” – but his aim is “to maximise brand engagement via social/digital media to drive audiences back to linear viewing.” For companies like AwesomenessTV, the objective is quite different, as they target teens: “In the YouTube world, urgency and timeliness and authenticity are as important, if not more than, video quality”, says its COO Brett Bouttier. BBC Worldwide shares the same vision on fresh content, according to its digital chief officer Daniel Heaf: “People want freshness in TV, which means in five years’ time we still have to create content that is new.”
When it comes to online video platforms, business models questions are raised though. Multi-lingual multiplatform video-sharing service Viki’s CEO Razmig Hovaghimian points out that “the new multi-channel networks (MCN) on YouTube are packaging their content and aggregating them in a more efficient way that is driving their value up.” But how big exactly do you need to be to exist as a content provider online? Maker Studios, the Los Angeles-based YouTube multi-channel network (MCN) recently acquired by Disney, is a good example, with its COO Erin McPherson stressing the fact that “rising above the noise will continue to be a challenge for content creators, who will also need to become marketing and branding experts.” In other words, MCNs couldn’t exist without talented artists with strong commercial skills.
It all comes down to content and creators in the end: they remain the basis of any digital strategy. As for the future of this new content market, RTL Group’s vice-president business development Rhys Noelke reminds us that “online video is maturing and becoming more professional. But these offers still can’t compare with the reach and scale of traditional TV.”
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