As a visitor and speaker at industry events around the world, it’s interesting to gauge viewing trends and insights (pardon the pun) from different territories, and this was very pertinent at NAPTE 2018, recently held in Budapest.
One of the key points raised during the conference is that more productions are being made for local audiences with international export also in mind. The BBC for example, makes epic, big budget natural history shows such as Planet Earth, which are produced for the UK market but have wide appeal to international audiences. They have built a global franchise for this type of natural history documentary content, which is purchased worldwide. The production costs for a show like this are huge: the first series of Planet Earth took five years to make and cost £8million, making it the most expensive nature documentary ever filmed by the BBC. But despite the high production costs, it has reaped the rewards from global sales. Last year the corporation highlighted Planet Earth II as one of BBC Studios’ Natural History Unit’s key global successes selling to 154 markets at year-end (2017) and breaking international ratings records.
Another interesting point raised during the conference is that traditionally, big media brands have been successful at capturing and keeping viewers, but this trend is beginning to change. Now, there is less focus on brand development and more focus on quality programming; a strong brand can help but if the programming doesn’t deliver, audiences don’t stay. A core focus on the audience is essential; without it relevance can be lost.
There’s also a growing disconnect between viewing data, such as BARB, and a title’s actual value and awareness when you factor in social media impact, piracy, and digital exploitation. New media services don’t always benefit from the current legacy measurement systems and new forms are still finding their way from a programming perspective. However, if advertising is a key revenue driver, then traditional TV viewing measurement still plays an important role.
What is also key is that OTT and VOD platforms need to be creative when enticing subscribers. With so many options available, SVOD has become a fractured market. This was highlighted at the recent MediaTech 360 conference in London. Panelists were discussing Amazon’s purchase of 20 Premier League matches next season. Instead of paying to watch these games on various platforms, would viewers prefer to pay the Premier League one subscription and watch all the games on one platform? Is this something that we’re likely to see in the future?