As Covid-19 hampers production across the globe, Nicolas d’Hueppe, CEO at content aggregator and online channels operator Alchimie, extols producers and rights holders to exploit the potential of factual programming’s long tail
These are strange times we are living in. The Coronavirus pandemic has required us to change our behaviour for our own protection and the protection of others. In many countries around the world people are in lockdown and no doubt getting very familiar with their portfolio of viewing platforms and channels.
And TV is everywhere. We watch it on phones, tablets, laptops, smart TV’s – any screen can deliver all your news and entertainment needs, tailored to you.
The lockdown means that VOD viewing is increasing. Only a few years ago, this would have been unimaginable but companies like Amazon, Samsung and Netflix – assisted by some brilliant original dramas – have changed the global TV ecosystem, driving VOD and resulting in challenges and new opportunities.
Up until now, the main focus and investment of the big global new generation players’ content has been scripted, scripted, scripted – and we currently have the perfect conditions for binge watching, catching up with drama series that have got everyone talking. But most viewers cannot survive on one genre alone, which presents a significant opportunity to rights holders of factual content.
Audiences like a bit of variety – and with so much content available now, that should be easy to deliver. But it’s not straightforward. Outside of Netflix and Amazon, the new world is complex and fragmented, making it difficult for rights owners to navigate, and analysts to map out and compare.
It’s not just about filmmakers and audiences – VOD is about rights, digitisation, localisation, revenue share, technology, coding, billing, ingesting, distribution and delivery – as well as marketing, brand, advertising, subscriptions and promotion.
There seem to be more ‘moving parts’ to the OTT world and when something appears that’s complicated, it’s often easier to ignore it. But the VOD world is maturing rapidly and there is huge opportunity. Increasing AVOD and subscriptions are driving greater revenue and rights owners shouldn’t ignore it but embrace it.
Cashing in on factual tails
Despite being fragmented, the emerging digital platforms have been quick to recognise the value in factual and understand the potential of the ‘long tail’.
The wonder of factual content is the facts don’t change with time. Facts are irrefutable – there may be different perspectives but facts are facts, hence the enduring appeal and its long tail. Brilliant programmes that producers have poured their talent into, that have been around the international circuit – often to great acclaim – and that have then been replaced by the next ‘new’ thing are still brilliant but no longer new.
Existing content is often left sat on a shelf, resting, until quietly being forgotten about and then archived. But those ‘resting’ programmes are not retired, they’re live assets and they have a value – potentially a significant value. With social media’s ever-increasing power, particularly in delivering news and other ‘facts’ in 140 characters or other bitesize snippets, the general demand for factual programming to provide deeper understanding of topics is increasing.
It can be as complicated as you want it to be – rights owners can have lots of control or hand over the whole shebang, it depends on what you want but there’s a solution for everyone and it shouldn’t be ignored
The value of content (or anything) doesn’t determine itself though, it needs work. New TV is about on demand vs linear – it’s also about technology, micro-subscriptions, streaming, localisation and globalisation. Content needs investment and expertise to digitise, store, package, localise and editorially deliver it for it to reach its value potential.
Opening up options
Every conquest of worth requires a risk but there is no need to go it alone – indeed, it’s not usually recommended to venture into the unknown without a guide. Some OTT companies provide just the technology, but many will invest with you and make the journey with you by your side. As a partner, OTT companies are keen to apply their technology, distribution, payment and promotion expertise to enable existing shows to find a new audience, making the fragmentation of consumption, or viewing, work for you and not against you.
Some OTT companies invest and take the risk on behalf of the rights holders. These co-publishers want to support you and make life easier for you, but they will recoup the investment with an increased revenue share. Some OTT companies charge flat fees for each activity, regardless of whether the show is watched or not. Some want to have exclusive deals for the content, some don’t. Some provide the technology to digitise and deliver content, but leave the promotion and marketing to the rights owner. Some OTT players handle all the marketing themselves.
It can be as complicated as you want it to be – rights owners can have lots of control or hand over the whole shebang, it depends on what you want but there’s a solution for everyone and it shouldn’t be ignored. It’s like not checking your lottery ticket – why wouldn’t you? You could be sitting on a goldmine, maybe enough to help production companies through fallow times as well as to support your next production.
Nicolas d’Hueppe is CEO at Alchimie, which has partnered with more than 250 European content creators and rights-owners to operate standalone or co-published SVOD channels.