Last week saw the 26th anniversary of the world’s leading market for the content and entertainment business. Like everyone working in this business and being affected by its development, I was also in Cannes to see how the media industry is “Redefining the Entertainment Experience“. The latter was the official teaser of this year’s MIPCOM. A quite catchy phrase that actually managed well to communicate the sense of ongoing consolidation in the industry, especially between major conventional players and digital platforms. In other words: optimism was in the air. This is not to say that all channels, distributors and producers are having the time of their life, but there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel. After the crisis, the drop in ad sales and years of uncertain experiments with revenue from digital, there is now some evidence for alternative ways to cash in, even if we’re still in the infancy of that novel economy. But since there is a constant need for fresh HQ content, these cashflows are likely to positively affect the producers as well and, to some extent, already do so. The latter is at least my interpretation of the industry outlook that had been provided by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), but also my conclusion based on the overall mood I encountered during MIPCOM.
PWC Industry Outlook, with TF1 & BBC Worldwide
Key findings from the PwC presentation were: TV industry shares concerning advertising budgets are likely to increase from 36% (2010) to 37% (2014) and considerable growth is to be expected in the subscription TV sector (notably in Asian-Pacific regions). Subscription TV will be the second strongest growth segment after videogames. Further on, ad spendings in the online sector are expected to grow from 15% (2010) to 21% (2014). Mobile advertising is as well starting to play a role, even though currently only $2 billion of the estimated $450 billion global ad spendings are invested into the sector. With an increasingly advanced eco-system for apps on smartphones and tablet PCs (combined with a general obsession for these devices), there might well be some leeway for mobile advertising to grow.
Talking about device-obsession: with major manufacturers bringing new tablets on the market, one may consider what these screens have in store for the content and entertainment industry. Usability in combination with multitouch technology and accelerometers in a reasonably priced appstore environment are a strong argument. Some people keep asking themselves: “Is the iPad more than a large iPhone?”. Using this question for a small poll in the audience, Ferhan Cook (President of Any Screen Productions Ltd.) launched her session dedicated to “Rich Media Apps”. Surprisingly, about one third of the audience were not really convinced that tablets go beyond the smartphone and target yet another market. In order to prove the contrary, Cook showcased a huge array of apps for the iPad, reaching from animated, interactive books for children up to games and magazines with implemented ads, whereas the ads become content themselves engaging users by means of interactive elements. Highlighting in detail the opportunities that tablets bear for content creators and app developers, Cook and her panel also noted that the current apps, for the most part rather simplistic, are still in the days of infancy and that we are just beginning to exploit this technology for even more immersive and intuitive applications.
But coming back to the television industry, MIPCOM also featured a noteworthy live interview (via satellite) with Nonce Paolini, CEO of the French TF1 group, who presented his take on the development of the television sector. First thing said: television is still the most popular media (period). Accordingly, TF1 is doing well with 3h26 of average viewing time per day (6 min more than in 2009) and about 33 million TV viewers zapping in each day. What’s more? The French group achieves rank 7 among the nation’s most popular websites in terms of unique visitors per month (16.3 million). All these numbers result from TF1s 360 degree approach regarding content offerings. Paolini emphasized the four main pillars of this approach:
- Live Services: 10 live programmes per week
- Non-Linear Services: 100 new videos per week available on the web
- Enhanced Services: Catchup TV, 20,000 short formats (trailers, promotion, short programmes etc.)
- Shared Services: Facebook Community, Twitter, WAT.TV (video sharing)
Paolini summarized the group’s philosophy by saying “each screen has a specific functionality and audience”. It seems to me that the company is embracing (and contributing to) the development of this emerging eco-system with different platforms adding either to ad revenues or brand equity which, in turn, refinances fresh content if we were to use a simplified equation.
Beyond this rather optimistic analysis from a broadcaster’s perspective, there were also many other conferences, which focused on changes in content (eg. transmedia storytelling), technologies (eg. augmented reality) and how producers may fit into the new environment covering branded entertainment, multi-territory formats, videogames, apps and so much more. Alternative approaches to creative business had also been exemplified eg. by Beached Az (6 million views on YouTube) showing how a simple idea can go from a new, inexpensive platform to an official 11 part TV season commissioned by Australian broadcaster ABC (with a second season in planning as of today). And by the way: the Australian media industry was another focus during this year’s MIPCOM which explains the origin of the example I used. “Beached Az”, in its native digital format on YouTube, is referred to as “snack media” meaning inexpensive short form content. It nicely illustrates that, just like with successful smartphone apps, there are indeed opportunities (albeit few and of course unpredictable ones in terms of success) where one can develop ideas in rather unconventional ways starting at different points in the value chain.
Inspite of the limited space available here, which keeps me from writing even more, I believe that the above summary provides a sufficient first glance at some of the key topics discussed during MIPCOM. And yet there were so many other important issues that remain unmentioned. Most of you might know that the official MIPBlog is an excellent resource offering a compelling archive of all conference videos incl. the key takeaways of each session. Accordingly, I do recommend to use the links below in order to learn more about the presentations held in Cannes on the occasion of this year’s MIPCOM.
Full length Videos and liveblogs on the official MipBlog:
KISS’ Gene Simmons on Family Jewels & more
Smartphone & Tablet Publishing: Case Studies
Rich Media Apps Fest: iPad Apps Showcase
The Impact of Connected TV on the Media Industry
Branded Entertainment Summit: Hear from the Thought Leaders
Superpanel: Can Rich Media Apps Generate Significant Digital Revenues?
International Co-Production Masterclass liveblog: Pillars of the Earth
Working with YouTube: Annotated Tales from the Digital Frontier
Formats Superpanel: Formulas for Success
Lowering Costs for Expensive Format Productions
Transmedia Content Show & Tell
MIPCOM Crossmedia Wrap-Up Session