TBI’s ongoing coverage of the impact of Covid-19 on the TV industry continues with Rian Bester, CEO at Insight TV, discussing how the broadcaster and producer has innovated to deal with the myriad effects of the pandemic, including hiring while house-bound.
Across Europe and around the world, we all have been on lockdown for weeks now. It is no longer a matter of when this will pass. Now, it’s about the challenge of adapting to the new normal, and a working structure that may not return to the old normal any time soon.
But the TV business has always thrived on disruption and that disruption has given rise to a lot of innovation. The same can be said for the work environment we now find ourselves in. Having had to work with my team remotely for some time now, I have seen many positives and negatives arise when it comes to our internal communications, sales efforts and general day-to-day operations.
A positive by-product of having to connect with your team remotely is that meetings are generally shorter and more efficient. How many times have we wished for that?! However, the healthy debates that usually happen as a result of being in the same office or conference room are largely lost in a remote working environment where each individual has to carefully take his or her turn to speak on a video call. It becomes a beleaguering task to coordinate.
Internally, we have managed to adapt to new workflows, setting up infrastructures in the cloud that our staff can access remotely. However, a real issue comes in when it comes to hiring. Yes, even in this economic climate, we are hiring. But having to interview and hire someone you have never actually met is awkward at best and potentially disastrous at worst. How can you ever determine if someone will fit into a work environment that exists only in a cloud?
Trying to engage with potential clients is even trickier – especially those who are new to us and our services. There are a lot of distractions and trying to get people to focus takes some ingenuity… and patience!
However, there has been a surprising side of client relations that has surfaced since the Coronavirus shut down live sports and events. For many months, we had been trying to forge relationships with a couple of key sports broadcasters but were getting nowhere. Now, with holes in programming schedules left by the lack of live sport, we found ourselves back at the virtual table. We’ve been able to curate some of our original documentary-style sports-related content to help keep these services’ viewers satisfied.
Out of adversity…
An unpredictable media landscape also means that opportunities can come out of nowhere. Less than a month before it happened, we couldn’t have foreseen taking part in a massive global event like One World: Together At Home.
Collaborating with Global Citizen, our whole staff – all working from home – and valued partners, we pulled together a live broadcast and managed to become the only network in the world to have the historic event available in 4K to viewers around the world. Our ability to adapt to take part in a truly one-of-a-kind broadcast was a remarkable and rewarding experience for everyone.
Overall, I think our team has adapted well to the new normal. They are a bunch of fighters who punch well above their weight; this coming from a strong company culture and team spirit built up over years; without this it would not be possible. But our ability to adapt can also be attributed to a business model that allows for multiple revenue streams.
We, like everyone else in the production business, have been impacted by the fact that shooting has come to a near standstill. However, we also own a large library of content and operate linear and digital channels, which is a huge asset in a market seeing substantial increases in TV consumption and streaming subscriptions.
I continue to be amazed at the many opportunities to forge new relationships that have come up when everyone is struggling to deal with the impact of a global catastrophe that has no precedent in our lifetime. Despite the challenges, we have found it possible to open and strengthen relationships we just didn’t have before.