On 19 January 2023, a line-up of industry experts and senior executives discussed the future of TV in the age of streaming and the digital priorities for TV companies as they look to transform their operations and supply chains during the 2020s.
Without even trying to summarize these highly interesting discussions, here are some notable quotes:
Christy Tanner, experienced C-level media executive, former head of News and Media divisions for CBS Interactive: “Do I think we will be brought to the new world by executives who spent the first three decades of their career greenlighting scripted talk shows? No, I do not. I think the audience is owed a new future of more interesting content and more choices. There needs to be a broadcasting and entertainment industry that is truly putting the audience first. It was too easy for too long to slot in a show at 9 p.m. after a successful 8 p.m. show and have that new show become successful.”
Emily Horgan, consultant and former Disney executive: “Children and young people remain at the forefront of changes in viewer behaviour. As new platforms pop up, they are the early adopters. YouTube is a real hotbed of new household IPs. Take Cocomelon; it’s the new Mickey Mouse. But it’s a lottery ticket to break through. It takes a patchwork quilt of distribution strategies and investment in marketing.”
Wim Ponnet, CEO of FanTech: “Production houses will to have to find a way to monetize their content better, get into the FAST space themselves, develop a DTC offering and figure out more innovative ways of making their content more engaging. People who consume content are not just consumers anymore; they want to engage with that content. Finding a way to make that two-way engagement possible is an additional challenge for the traditional production houses but also for the traditional linear broadcasters.”
Ian Whittaker, experienced equities analyst: “What almost all the major broadcasters in Europe tend to do now when they produce their results is give a general advertising number. They don’t break out linear TV ad revenues from AVOD revenues. They don’t really care about that differentiation between Linear and VOD. In some cases, they are quite happy with the shift because, for the moment, the cost-per-thousand rates in AVOD are significantly ahead of where the Linear TV rates are.”
Aksel van der Wal, former COO International DTOI at Turner/WarnerMedia: “The hardest challenge when working on the digital transformation of your operations is the organization’s cultural transformation. People have been used to doing things in a certain way for a long time. Now they need to be more agile and much more consumer-focused. People with digital skills need to intermingle with the other skills and form a cohesive team. Changing that mindset is a hard thing to pull off. That takes 3 to 5 years.”
Cristina Gomila, Managing Director Content Technology & Innovation at Sky UK: “It’s all about how we can connect data to build business value in the supply chain. I think we have only scratched the surface. It is still very hard to connect production data with metadata with customer data. But yes, we have fantastic examples of automation and AI for speech-to-text, automatic scheduling, automatic compliance checks, quality checks, and everything manual and tedious.
I don’t like the word ‘automation’ that much. I prefer to say that we are “augmenting the operators” because we are making them much more efficient, removing them from that tedious work of opening files and selecting things. Let the data-driven machine do all that for them and let them focus on what’s more creative to build value.”
Matthew Westrup, SVP Technology and Operations EMEA at A+E Networks UK: “You will want to be delivery-point agnostic. It shouldn’t matter whether it is a Linear channel, a FAST channel, SVOD or AVOD platform. You want to connect the dots, and you’re going to use a whole range of different technologies, vendors and skill sets to do it. Everybody has been working hard on that in slightly different ways. I expect we will be moving towards that closed loop, but we have to do it in an economically viable way. Budgets, time and resources are not endless, so you have to prioritize. With all the changes, we will probably have to accept that what we are doing today is tomorrow’s legacy.”
Ivan Verbesselt, Chief Product and Marketing Officer with MEDIAGENIX: “The higher upstream you are in the content supply chain, the more converged you should be. How do you actively drive your engagement and discoverability across the different platforms? When you want to be agile in windowing and publishing across multiple platforms trying to engage audiences and monetize content—which increasingly will take on many forms—you will want to think holistically and converge. The closer you get to the actual platforms, the more you can afford to be pragmatic and modular. It’s not by accident that we see many stovepiped operations because the upstream part came along with the downstream parts. But it’s not because we started with stovepipes that we can sustain that. The Stone Age did not end because we ran out of stones. We need to address the downstream part, and there’s a lot of room for pragmatism.”
A big thank you to all speakers as well as to moderator Jon Watts, co-founder and Executive Director of the Project X Institute.