The latest Media Meet & Greet, organised by Broadcast Projects in association with Broadband TV News, examined a wide range of subjects ranging from OTT and recommended content to piracy and the future of trade shows.
Speaking in the keynote panel, entitled OTT platforms for all sizes: not all content wears the same, Srinivasan KA, co-founder Amagi, compared the OTT consumption patterns in the Europe with those in the US. They differ in several respects, with the former, for instance, having always had free, ad-supported TV and being quite familiar with AVOD.
Srinivasan KA also pointed out that streaming TV in Europe has grown 30-fold in the last 10 years and 40% of homes on the continent now have connected TVs. While Europe still finds itself some 12-18 months behind the US in connected TV ad monetisation, it is growing very quickly in this area.
Looking specifically at Amagi, Srinivasan KA added that it has seen 400%+ growth across its channels in Europe in the last 18 months.
Meanwhile, Tony Huidor, SVP, product & technology; general manager, digital networks at Cinedigm, spoke about the importance of “enthusiast”, or niche, channels. Cinedigm is currently in the process of acquiring such channels, with the ultimate goal of having a portfolio of services. In his view, Netflix and other services have ignored niche content, which would otherwise go undiscovered, to focus on their own productions.
Paul Edwards, VP, content, Pluto TV, Europe, Viacom CBS Networks International, agreed with this. Furthermore, he said that despite being part of Viacom CBS since 2019, Pluto TV has always been and remains agnostic when it comes to content and believes that to be successful has to also look for it outside the (Viacom CBS) “family”.
Avner Ronen, VP, product development, Samsung Electronics, said that although OTT remains a hit-driven business model, niche content now has the opportunity to reach consumers that it never had. However, it is now becoming both a discovery and a monetisation challenge.
Tony Huidor revealed that Cinedigm spotted an opportunity in ad-supported on demand services two years ago and has since focussed on them. Indeed, it has seen 200% year-on-year growth, boosted by huge demand from people staying at home due to the pandemic, and now operates 15 channels live across every major platform.
Asked by the moderator Chris Pfaff, CEO, Chris Pfaff Tech Media, about the number of niche channels currently available, Srinivasan KA said the industry is still barely touching the surface. Interestingly, he gave the example of one service (Dog TV) that has 5 million subscriptions.
Avner Ronen highlighted the fact that the industry is taking a format that has worked for many years on other delivery mechanisms and putting it on the internet. The business models are nevertheless in place and there many opportunities.
Significantly, Paul Edwards underlined the importance of the lean-back experience to Pluto TV’s viewers and advertisers, while Srinivasan KA spoke about the emergence of FAST (free, ad-supported TV), which in his view will be a major driver as the industry moves into the connected TV world.
The main takeaways from the keynote panel were arguably that niche channels and AVOD services are becoming increasingly important in the OTT sector, while at the same time discovery and monetisation will present growing challenges.
As well as the panel, the latest Media Meet & Greet featured three curated sessions – Monetising niche streaming services: from classical opera to cult films; Recommended content: is it working for viewers; and Content security: taming the pirates.
In the latter, Sheila Cassells, executive VP, Anti-Piracy Alliance (APPA), spoke about peoples’ perception that content on the internet being free and at the same time them sensing when content is in fact pirated. She also said that piracy is linked to serious and organised crime and the industry needs to boost its educational efforts to combat it.
It was interesting to hear about the levels of piracy in certain parts of the world. While Natalia Borelius, partner/senior analyst at Mediavision, said it was very low in Denmark, another panellist pointed out that it was a much more serious problem in areas such as the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region.
A further sessions entitled An open conversation on the future of trade shows was also offered to attendees of the Media Meet & Greet. It was of particular relevance for the industry given the pandemic and there was general consensus that we are unlikely to see a return to exactly the same situation that existed prior to March 2020.
The next Media Media & Greet will take place on Thursday, June 10, from 16.40 CET to 19.00 CET (3.40pm to 6pm UK / 10.40am to 1pm EST / 07.40am to 10am PST). To get on the wait list, please go to: https://broadcastprojects.ck.page/ac7b882b5a