Outlook 2010: Consumer to enjoy immense choice, but who pays for the content?

CANNES: In a world where fragmentation and multiple platforms are reducing the ROI (return on investment) for advertisers, there is slowly emerging a big question mark as to who will pay for the content?

True that consumers are getting control, true that they are getting immense choice, but the flipside of this whole multiple content and platform boom is that soon TV production budgets will have to be lowered, adversely affecting the quality of content. Or in a more optimistic outlook, the content creators will be able to increase efficiency in terms of the cost to entertainment value ratio.

The final wrap up of the Programming Outlook 2010 discussed various opportunities and challenges that lay in the near future. The panelists included, Somethin Else (UK) director Paul Bennun, Alliance Atlantis executive VP Norm Bolen, BBH director of content Mark Boyd, Channel 21 MD David Jenkinson and Groupe IMCA CEO Pascal Josephe. The session was moderated by Achilles Media CEO Robert Montgomery.

As with a majority of sessions at Mipcom this year, the session revolved around new platforms and the change in the content viewing landscape.

C21 MD Jenkinson remarked, “A real sea change is taking place with this bus stop media. There is a need for the younger generation to be always on. The technological developments have unleashed a new beast at large and I believe that soon the 2nd tier of channels will disappear. Only the big networks that have the marketing muscle and the ability to do eventised programming will be able to survive.”

Come whatever technology, the need for good storytelling remains. Or does it?

BBHs Boyd pointed out that latest research showed that increasing number of youngsters were not interested in the story any more. "Today's consumers read a book at the start, skip the story and read the end. It is engaging concepts and big ideas in entertainment that will have more importance looking forward. Another necessity will be the need for direct contact with the viewers."

Alliance Atlantis' Bolen retorted, "The sky is not falling, we are not seeing fall off on audiences, but yes the growth is not the kind one would look forward to. All the networks have to leave their hubris and with humility listen to what consumers want and observe their behavior. The smart broadcaster of the future will be one who listens and observes consumers, who keeps abreast of the latest technology and its implications and also observes competitors from TV as well as other media"

Technology. Isn't it changing it all

Recently Apple, one of the trailblazing companies that has been at the forefront of the digital revolution announced the video iPod Meaning that consumers, for a fee will now be able to download their favorite content onto a portable player. Additionally the device has features like goggles and ear phones which can give the viewer a large format immersive experience on the move.

Bolen commented, "There are some significant developments from the technology front which we have to be aware of, for eg Apple and Disney proposition for ABC on the iPod."

Content lots of it yes, but who pays for it?

Mark Boyd from BBH was very vocal about the losing sheen of TV advertising. Said Boyd, "Advertising is not working the same way as it did earlier. We are looking for people with Big Ideas. We will invest our marketing muscle into big content ideas. Programming Brands are becoming extremely important and my opinion is that TV business needs to invest a lot more into brand creation."

"Consumers have a fixed amount of money to spend on entertainment and the options are increasing enormously. Advertisers are increasingly interested in investing in content, paying upfront and then distributing it across all media in a model that gets them more impact and is easy on the consumer too,” he added.

IMCA’s Josephe drew attention to the fact that while most of the new programming ideas were being created with the youth in mind, one also had to take into account a lot of the older demographic which is also fast adapting to technology. ”Their content needs need to be addressed too,” he remarked.

Continuing he added, ”There will emerge a scenario where simulcasting will become the norm with the content adapting itself to the various mediums and exploiting what each medium has to offer in order to give consumers immersive, multi layered experience.”

Amongst some new scenarios and trends envisaged by the panel were:

    With content becoming available everywhere and anywhere, the search engines like Yahoo and Google will be in an ideal position to generate business through video search, etc.

    Broadband channels will have an edge over TV channels due to being able to provide consumer feedback and behavior reports to advertisers.

    Simultaneous content offering across all media using the inherent strengths of each of them will come into prominence.

    Newer models of content monetisation could emerge which would find content being highly subsidised for TV and the actual monies in licensing etc.

    Playlists and Consumer Preference based EPGs will gain a lot of importance.

    Gaming is gradually heating up as a choice destination for advertisers and programming content will be increasingly interwoven with game offerings and simulcasting on various media.

About the only genre that is not negatively impacted by all this time shifted on demand media consumption activity is news. News after all, gets redundant if viewed after a while.

Concluding the session Bolen made an interesting remark. “I think simplicity will be very important amidst all the clutter. And looking into the future, consumers will begin making their own schedules with all the content and technology available to them. And we the broadcasters have to do just that. Select the best of content and schedule it aptly for consumers.”


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