Adventure Reality Series is a key TV genre. Shows like Survivor and The Amazing Race have proven its success and longevity for broadcasters all around world, and more recent MIPCOM titles like X Days Outside and The Lost Ones are continuing the tradition. But there is one show in the Top 10 Adventure Reality TV Shows on IMDb that isn’t really a TV show. 7 Vs Wild takes the jeopardy of Alone but gives it a YouTube twist to build communities and followers around its episodes. Amazon Freevee recently picked up rights to launch an original third season, proving digital and linear can work harmoniously together. 7 Vs Wild shows that the digital generation can also achieve success on mainstream TV. But what about the other way around? How can mainstream TV achieve success on digital platforms?
I talked to Gerrit Kemming, Managing Director of Quintus Studios – a next generation channel operator and distribution business that is distributing 7 vs Wild internationally – and Ex-Ladbible exec Thom Gulseven, who recently launched Strong Watch Studios with his former colleague Ben Powell-Jones – a digital-first broadcast company. Asked about his new company, Thom said: “We’re obsessed with the gap between the two worlds of tele and digital – and how you fill it”.
So, here’s what you need to know about digital distribution and monetization strategies. Let’s start with the key platforms.
Key Digital Platforms to Consider
TikTok recently announced that it’s revamping its system for paying creators. Starting on December 16, creators in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany will be shifted over to TikTok’s Creativity Program, rather than its existing Creator Fund. With its new Creativity Programme, which incentivizes users to make videos longer than one minute, the platform estimates that creators can make more than 20 times what they were previously earning on TikTok. So TikTok is starting to compete with YouTube, which is the preferred platform for “TV-like content” or “longform digital content” – according to Gerrit and Thom.
Gerrit’s Quintus Studios is focusing mostly on Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube, but also on FAST Channels. When it comes to digital platforms, there are many different options available, and niches are becoming the norm – be it on social or FAST platforms, said Gerrit.
Which platforms you prioritize depends on your content and your objectives. Is it about monetization? Then YouTube or Facebook Reels might be good options for you. Is it about building a community? Then Instagram or Discord could be the right fit for you. Is it about creating awareness? Then TikTok’s algorithm might be right for you. For instance, Dropout TV, formerly known as CollegeHumor, an ad-free, subscription streaming platform, is using Instagram and TikTok to build an audience and to drive them to SVOD, according to Strong Watch Studios’ Thom Gulseven.
When choosing a platform, you should think about your objectives and which platform works best for your content. Factual Content, for example, works really well on YouTube. However, keep in mind Thom Gulseven adds: “Distributing your IP on different channels is not cannibalising, you are just reaching more and different people.” That’s exactly what Evan Shapiro was focusing on in his keynote at MIPTV in April, too. He called it the “Oui, et”-Approach. Distribute your show on a SVOD platform, and on a FAST Channel, and on Social Media, and traditional TV etc. You should be on every platform your audience is.
The challenge is, though, that every platform works differently. So how do you produce content to distribute it on multiple platforms?
The Art and Strategy of Multiplatform Production and Distribution
Producing content for multiple platforms requires careful consideration of each platform’s unique characteristics, audience behaviors, and content formats. For example, Instagram favors visually appealing images and short-videos, while YouTube is perfect for longer-form content. That means you have to optimize video dimensions, aspect ratios, and quality to fit the specifications of each platform. For the best result, it’s important to consider the distribution platforms and their specifications even before shooting the content.
When Thom Gulseven develops and produces content, he thinks in “asset-level rather than in finished programming”. He explains: “We maximise every single bit, for example every single interview of a documentary.” For this to work, producers have to tweak the way they are producing, though. You need to create the content in a way, so it works on every platform. According to Thom, there shouldn’t even be a separate TV commissioner and a digital commissioner at broadcasters. They shouldn’t commission an asset, such as a documentary film, but creative output – short, medium and longform moments. “The whole infrastructure has to change to become future proof.”
Gerrit Kemming calls it an “editorial content approach”. When he produces a one-hour documentary, he brings in all platform producers (TV, Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat etc.) and they all say what they need from the production to make it work on their specific platform. This could be certain objects, people, or quotes. They think multiplatform from the beginning and have local freelancers all over the world who can implement the concepts.
By considering these factors and adapting your content strategy accordingly, you can effectively navigate the nuances of each platform, engage diverse audiences, and maximize the impact of your content across multiple channels.
Rights Management in a Digital Age
The key to maximizing digital distribution and digital monetization, though, is to hold back your digital rights. Gerrit said that since budgets are decreasing, there’s a real opportunity for TV producers to keep their digital rights and exploit them by themselves or with partners such as Quintus Studios or Strong Watch Studios.
If a TV producer partners with a broadcaster to exploit digital rights, the key question is who owns the audience? As building up audiences has become more important than ever, it’s a relevant question in today’s media landscape. According to Thom, if producers are building a brand or a channel, they should also co-own the audience. The broadcasters can own the assets, but there needs to be a discussion about who owns the channel, and the audience. It’s not just about audience acquisition, it’s about building a brand and then leveraging this brand.
Therefore, when it comes to exploiting your content on multiple platforms, you need to clearly define and understand the ownership of the audience and the content. Ensure that you have the necessary rights to exploit it on various platforms. One way to make the most of multiple platforms is by granting non-exclusive rights to specific platforms rather than exclusive or specify the duration or territories for which rights are granted.
All in all, exploiting content on multiple platforms aligns with the changing dynamics of media consumption, maximizes revenue potential, and allows TV producers to build a robust, adaptable, and successful content strategy. In an age where screens of all sizes have become our windows to the world and the TV industry is undergoing a profound transformation, digital distribution and digital monetization of content have emerged as the twin engines propelling this revolution. From streaming giants to niche platforms, the way we watch, pay for, and profit from TV content is evolving at lightning speed. Therefore, watch this space!