With 2022 up and running, TBI takes you around the globe as we pick out six key industry developments to watch our for over the coming 12 months in the rapidly changing content business.
This week’s news that WarnerMedia and ViacomCBS are looking to sell off The CW marks the latest salvo in the reimagining of the US media ecosystem.
It is largely driven by streaming and its myriad effects, yet this is by no means a Stateside phenomenon: the content landscape is evolving at breakneck speed globally as SVOD, AVOD and myriad other acronyms make watching content easier and more affordable.
TBI staff and Omdia’s Tim Westcott break down some of the key trends they believe will make waves in 2022.
We’ve been talking about the power of Korean programming for years – Squid Game and Hellbound the most notable recent examples – but 2022 will see the Asian country evolve from being seen as an IP exporter and into a major global media player. South Korean companies made some serious investments in 2021: internet giant Naver acquired Wattpad for $600m; cable operator JTBC Studios bought a majority stake in Mare Of Easttown producer Wiip; and CJ ENM forked out $750m for an 80% stake in Endeavor Content. CJENM also revealed plans to spend $4.5bn on content creation over the next five years as it eyes global viewers, while SF8 and M Topia streamer Wavve – backed by Korean broadcasters KBS, MBC and SBS plus SK Telecom – is also investing almost $1bn on new content and studio space. Put all that together – plus the fact that companies such as Netflix are making deep investments in local content – and the result is a Korean wave that is only just beginning to be felt. (Richard Middleton)
Rising demand for African content
Africa is ready to take its place on the map, content-wise, in 2022. Recent months have seen rising interest in content from a continent that is often overlooked on the global market and as the quality of its scripted programming continues to improve, 2022 looks likely to be the year we see its first international hit – the first African Fauda or Squid Game. African scripted drama is already in particular demand, with global businesses such as Fremantle and Netflix partnering on shows like Reyka and Agent. Disney+ and others are also on the hunt for local animation such as Kizazi Moto: Generation Fire, while conversely, the launch of global services such as these in Africa has exposed audiences to new content, leading to demand for higher quality programming which has raised the bar for local producers and in turn drawn interest from further afield. The current global demand for authentic local content has helped producers to recoup on increased budgets, allowing them to produce more ambitious – and globally appealing – projects than ever before. (Mark Layton)
WarnerMedia & Discovery’s rights retention
Assuming it’s approved by regulators (the European Commission has already given its blessing), the creation of Warner Bros. Discovery will be one of the big events of the year. HBO Max will continue its European rollout and the addition of factual content and sports from the Discovery side will only add to the appeal of the streaming platform. But the big question is to what extent Warner Bros. Discovery will abandon licensing its content to third parties. New boss David Zaslav will certainly be pressing for the outfit to convert its programming investments into online subscribers, but it’s a big culture change – not just for Warner Bros, but also for HBO, which is locked into long-term output deals with Sky and Orange. (Tim Westcott)
AVOD & its implications
There was a meeting of the old and new earlier this week, when All3Media International revealed a new FAST (Free Ad Supported Television) channel for North America focused entirely on Midsomer Murders, a show that first aired in the US a quarter of a century ago. Whether or not it will succeed remains to be seen, but FAST channels and AVOD streamers are poised to surge in 2022. And while much of the growth to date has been in the US, the coming 12 months look likely to see more widespread uptake of ad-supported viewing around the world. This will in turn have implications on distributors – can they continue to turn a buck by loading up a raft of FAST channels with their library content while also selling the same content to broadcasters? – but also producers, with AVOD already emerging as one potential solution to tricky funding problems. Expect more of the same in ’22. (RM)
Kids take centre stage
The newly-named Candle Media made a big splash in the kids’ content world last year when it forked out an estimated $3bn for UK-and-US-based Moonbug Entertainment in November. The Blackstone Group-backed investment outfit set up by Disney execs Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs evidently believe Moonbug’s IP was worth the investment – CoComelon alone is estimated to net the company more than £120m per year – and 2022 is likely to see other companies follow suit as kids content continues to play an integral role in the content offering of global streamers. While future M&A activity isn’t expected to reach such dizzying price tags, the value of popular kids IP is certainly being recognised and as more streamers expand into more territories their need for quality kids content will only grow. (ML)
There will be a continuing focus on streaming, especially in Europe, with HBO Max, ViacomCBS and NBC Universal all trying to catch up with Netflix, Amazon and Disney+. Studio space is already at a premium as the output of new film and TV productions ramps up. Disney+ will launch its first European originals, and Netflix will hope to follow up on the success of series like La Casa De Papel and Squid Game with more non-English hits. Streaming opportunities aren’t confined to the majors: NENT is scaling up outside its Nordic home markets, RTL Group is putting an increasing emphasis on online subscription (it was never keen on traditional pay TV) and platforms like BritBox are also eyeing further international growth. (TW)