MipTV 2015 Conference Report
Welcome to Digital Media Finland report on this week’s MipTV, the major European TV content event. Timo Argillander reports the key findings.
Internet as a way to distribute content and serve audiences has established its role in TV industry. While this means new opportunities for disruptive challengers, it also helps existing companies to compete. An example of this is Blue, a TV series originally distributed over Internet channel Wigs. Fremantle then bought the rights and started selling the series on traditional country-by-country basis. Original Internet distribution was a good proof-of-concept that also brought valuable usage data.
It has been a common understanding that Internet gradually removes country borders and there would be a truly international content market. However, at the same time new technological solutions provide ways for e.g. content geoblocking that are strengthening the traditional model.
Internet distribution also brings new options for content windowing. The traditional way has been to launch new content on movie theatres or main TV channels first. Now a viable option is to launch first a free version on YouTube to create awareness and after that bring the content to free or pay TV channels.
Branded content moves to mainstream, but only the best productions will succeed
Marriot was awarded at the MIPTV show Brand of the Year award for their classy content marketing. Marriot has established a content marketing unit, whose first 20-minute production Two Bellmen has been a success (I recommend watching the program at www.twobellmen.com!) The action-packed story is located at a Marriot hotel in California, while their upcoming love story is filmed in Paris.
According to Marriot Global Marketing Officer Karin Timpone, this kind of content is not just for millenials but also a wider travelling target group with access to variety of digital devices. Marriot targets with videos at loyalty and “fan base” building: viewing their content is seldom connected to actual booking of a hotel room.
Canadian agency Shift2 produced a 36-part scripted series Carmilla for their client, sanitary pad manufacturer Kotex. The show was distributed online and it was just after the 20th part had been shown that the audiences found out that Kotex is behind the production. It seems that the viewers do not actually bother about who has been paying for the content, when it comes for free on the Internet.
Also Finnish TV format Buy This (Brändärit), created by TBWA and Fremantle, was showcased as an innovative branded content case. Buy This is a scripted story of fictional ad agency that is serving real-life clients.
While success stories like these make sense, it remains to be seen how large-scale activity branded content could be. If the majority of brands would start investing in branded TV content, the supply of content would jump to such high level that it would be difficult for average brands to stand out.
Vox and Vice challenge media industry practices, attracting the young
Internet media companies Vox and Vice were on MIPTV stage with flashy shows presenting their disruptor views. Vox has earned reputation with news content with explanatory touch while Vice provides controversial punk style entertainment content and now also news.
Vox creative director Chad Mumm emphasized, that while their [traditional media] competitors have separate editorial and video teams, at Vox they work as a single media hacker team.
Vice employs only young people to work for them as this way they can create content for the young, says Alex Miller, Global Head of Content. Vice has partnered with legacy media companies, e.g. producing for HBO channels a daily 30 minute news show for young people and full-length movies for 20th Century Fox.
YouTube MCN stars bring adorable excitement to TV industry
After a row of business panels it is a totally different world to listen to vlogger stars. Star culture is key of multi-channel network business (distributing content channels on YouTube). These young vloggers can boast with audiences – or communities – of dozens of millions of people.
Vlogger Mr. Kate, who is producing videos for Maker Studios network, was an actress but felt that acting is “working for other people’s projects” and found her thing in vlogging.
Producing content for YouTube is becoming more professional. In the early days of YouTube it was intentional that the content looked like amateur stuff. Now expectations are much higher and even short Vine videos need to be carefully edited to attract viewers.
The volume of video content continues to skyrocket. MCN company Machinima says they publish monthly ten times the content volume that a cable channel does in a year.
Despite of apparent success of many MCN stars and channels, business is not a topic the stars and their channels want to talk about. On MIPTV stage the stars were applauded for their cool content and fresh attitude but there were no roasting about money – in contrast to regular TV exec panels. MCN earnings are based on splitting video advertising income between producer and YouTube. Additionally content creators can earn major income by co-operating with brands and advertisers. This is serious business, which is emphasized by high valuations that have been paid for MCN companies.
Linear Internet channel, radio with video and other noteworthy stuff
Pluto TV is a US based digital video platform that is streaming advertising funded linear video content 24/7. Their service consists of 100s of linear channels and the user interface resembles traditional cable or satellite TV program grid. Pluto says that in the era of on-demand, people still want to view “what’s on” without the hassle of selecting what they specifically want.
At BBC Radio 1 video content has become essential. Radio 1’s Head of Visualisation (!) Joe Harland expects “all my radio producers to be aware of what will and won’t work on video”. Obviously it can be easier for a radio than a TV channel to adopt Internet video as it doesn’t directly conflict with what you have been previously doing.
US company Smiletime joins the long row of interactive TV developers waiting for a breakthrough. In Smiletime concept there are five video feeds from both a studio and people’s homes. Shows are live and there is a director in charge of directing the live program.
Internet video platform Vimeo is attracting content developers with a transactional video on demand platform where the platform charges the developer only 10 % commission.