NBCUniversal, Facebook, DAZN, and Microsoft spoke with the CEO of Looper Insights, Lucas Bertrand, about Video on Demand Innovation. Here are the key takeaways…
The last year has unlocked a year of experimentation and innovation in Video on Demand that was previously unheard of. There’s nothing like some upheaval to unlock creativity.
Has this finally given consumers what they want? From early access to the biggest hits on your Connected device to catalogues of free ad supported titles, it appears that the industry has finally delivered. So what’s next?
I recently invited some friends and colleagues from NBCUniversal, Facebook, DAZN and Microsoft to join me for a fireside chat, to discuss the key innovations that have been happening in Video on Demand, and what we can expect in the future. Here is what I found out.
The theatrical window isn’t going anywhere
When speaking with Rob Bell, Executive Vice President, International Digital Distribution at NBCUniversal, it was his opinion that we have not seen the last of theatrical windowing. This is because it still remains a valuable part of the film life cycle. Despite the fact there are different strategies from different studios, it was said that what stays consistent is that the theatrical model remains part of them all. Rob went on to express how he believes the theatrical window actually helps the value of that film in downstream windows too.
Theaters, VoD and Television can co-exist, if we respect people’s choice
I spoke with Peter Mercier, Microsoft’s Senior Director of Business Development, on whether we think Theaters, VoD and Television can co-exist without hurting one another. Peter shared his thoughts on how the overall goal, as a platform, is to be able to offer people a choice on when they choose to watch content, where, how often and on whatever device they prefer. Saying this, he went on to express that he believes there is enough there, as long as viewers are able to express their choices commercially, and the market would help make this happen. Although the theaters are currently not making money, Peter assured us that this will come back, “If that window doesn’t make money for the theatrical movie business, then the whole category has a big problem because the box office drives the industry”.
It’s about winning the hearts and minds of your partners
There are a lot of devices out there and it’s getting incredibly fragmented when it comes to video on demand, so how do you ensure that your content is getting the placement that it deserves? John Gleasure, DAZN’s Founder and Executive Vice Chairman spoke with us on how we’re seeing more users moving from mobile to Connected TV, as that technology increasingly has VoD more inbuilt into the TV environment. John stated that, importantly, first you’ve got to be on all of the platforms, then it’s how you work with those partners to really drive awareness of all of your content and your services. And how do you do that? It’s about winning the hearts and minds of a lot of those partners, which is done by spending a lot of time with them, educating them on what you have, as you win premium content. Success breeds success. John believes in partnerships and in win-win’s, and that’s what DAZN tries to engender with all of its partners.
‘Live events’ matter in this on demand world
I asked Rhys Beer, Head of International Content Strategy & Programming at Facebook, whether he thought live events were going to hold true in the world of on-demand first. Rhys told us that it is important not to just assume that live does not have a role within this VOD transformation we’re going through. He went on to discuss the recent NFL deals in the US, and how all of the big American media companies look to secure and promote those live rights, forming a very big part of their future OTT strategies, which is going to be VOD and live. Rhys finished our discussion stating that there are plenty of signs in the market, both on the subscription side and on the ad side that shows ‘live’ continuing to be a key part of customer acquisition and retention.
VoD and entertainment are being transformed at a rapid pace both in the offer (new, big services launching globally like HBO Max, Peacock and Disney+) and the way consumers can access (Premium VoD, Premier Access, Premium EST) and how they then get to consumer via new content First User Interfaces. The trick it seems for a distributor of Film/TV or VoD stores is to get maximum availability across devices globally (if your rights allow it) and to then be able to maximise your visibility on these devices to generate more views and secure more subscribers. It’s all happening in VoD for the consumer. Brilliant!