Newspapers wouldn’t rely on movies to build brand
Could you imagine a leading newspaper in which all the content comes from press agencies? In spite of streamlining, papers have reinforced their core competencies.
For most, it has meant concentrating on anything local or close to the interests of their readers: sports, politics, social events, entertainment…etc. Some regional papers all but overlook international news on their websites because they know they are building their reputation and traffic on local affairs.
When I travel the world and watch TV, I am surprised by the importance movies have in their programming grids. Movies do not create a brand; they are not the pillars on which a leading TV channel can build its brand and future. Movies do not create loyalty, since they are one-off experiences. Instead, other stations are heavily dependent on programs like The Wire, The Sopranos, CSI, House…even The Simpsons, which seems like a smarter option to movies because the broadcaster has the time to build something around them.
Until a few years ago, TV watching was a social activity done with the family. Now it’s an individual activity and if a canned product like a movie can be offered VOD, it will. Leading news programs, live sports and other events may be expensive, but they show the way forward. Reality programs, contests, competitions…are cheaper formats. One can create a series by adapting scripts or formats that have worked in other markets. They will not be perceived as canned and you can create online layers around them. Plus they may allow for mobile participation, product placement and create the kind of loyalty you need at the magical moment the viewer picks up the remote.
The fate of free movie channels seems unpromising. Shrinking audiences, stable cost structure, increasing VOD offerings and decreasing digital costs of transmission will play against them. In the future, they will be less significant because they lack the ability to generate traffic or interaction. For outside content to be successful, it must integrate with the channel’s own programming.
Make live events live by creating ‘content around content’
Live events suit perfectly the new TV. They have to be seen live, advertisers love them, sponsorships are possible and product placement, if you own the event, can contribute to the bottom line. The bad thing is that it’s getting harder/more expensive to land international rights for major events, but there are national and local rights which can also fulfill the needs of some channels.
I cited two examples from the world of sports because sports excel at attracting a loyal crowd of followers. Gavin O'Malley comments that “among the key age segments of 18-24 years and 25-34 years, the Internet far outweighs both local and national TV coverage as the primary source of sports news and information”. Sports franchises are moving quickly into new media and their experiences could be good case studies for those seeking ways to leverage other live events.
Clearly, a TV organization should try to build on recurring events as much as possible. It’s a lot easier that one time only events. While securing the rights is hard, once we have them it is absolutely necessary to build content and interest around them. It is a waste of effort to broadcast an event life as if it is simply a parenthesis in the programming grid. Only the meticulous generation of a complete environment around the F1 allowed Telecinco to grow its audience. Likewise, that same “wrapping around the event” approach has to be developed in the online.
First personal note in my blog: I was born in Bilbao an industrial city in the north of Spain, same as Miguel de Unamuno, an essayist and novelist who said that “history could best be understood by looking at the small histories of anonymous people, rather than by focusing on major events such as wars…” The official history for which you pay for rights is the jewel in the crown, but events also need the “intrahistory” (he used that word), the making of, the interviews and smaller content that maintain the focus and anticipate and prolong the experience. Around traditional TV and around the website/mobile there has to be a microcosm all along the season, or the time’s length. Thanks to this multichannel approach. broadcasters and advertisers have the chance to better impact their target audience. There is a Nike ad, which takes full advantage of this “content around content.” Once again, this is something you cannot buy and which sets you apart from the rest.
Connected TV as a blender
Only a few posts ago, I described the effort of Samsung and Yahoo! to achieve the active coexistence of TV and online. The time when consumers will have internet-enabled TVs is not near, but experiments will abound to grasp the potential of the new sets. Just recently, Sony has announced its intention to offer a movie (Cloudy with a Change of Meatballs) for $24.95 available to consumers directly through internet-enabled TV sets. In the future when such sets are more common, Sony will try to bypass cable and satellite companies with its own VOD services.
Forrester estimates that Internet sets will be in more than one-third of European TV households by 2014 with more than 150 million potential European users in 2014. Advertisers and content providers will have to plan for the transformation of the TV experience to one that blends broadcast and broadband. There is time, but are most TV channels exploring the merger of traditional and Internet TV?
And now take a glimpse at the future
Three months ago, nobody imagined a search engine could offer videos from over a thousand sources in a properly categorized way, facilitating a consumer’s immediate access to hundreds of thousands of episodes, movies, web originals, music videos. Today, that dream can be accomplished via the net. Forget Google. The complete guide to the Internet is already available under the name Clicker.com, which does a superlative job of facilitating an infinite world of on-demand choices. “Thousands of episodes from thousands of shows are housed on thousands of different sites, mixed among billions of random clips and videos.”
Clicker doesn't actually host any of this content, but it provides links to the sources. Its service is free, but it intends to develop premium features as imdb did. It anticipates the future of convergence and though it poses hundreds of questions, one thing is certain: the time to watch online TV in the living room is constricting. Is your company ready for this? Are your shows properly described and categorized online, with complete cast and complementary info? Are they fully searchable under the right tags? Is your advertising well developed to take benefit from this? Is there a payment method in place? Do you have the right approach to SEO? Can you offer differential videos?
Of course, your programming can be seen on your website, but distribution, or the ability of getting traffic to your content through different doors, is something you have to explore. Clicker is one more door to your house; the largest social networks are other ones. As editors have learned, try them. I recommend that your new media team get acquainted with Clicker.com, “the complete guide to Internet Television”, as it is very relevant to your online video business. (End of Part 5)
You are free to use this article in your publication as long as you credit the author Fernando Samaniego