If there is one topic that seems to permeate all aspects of media today -- content, sales, technology, distribution, platforms, research, marketing and affiliates -- it is Multiplatform. The capability of feeding and tracking programming across the various platforms is transforming media, challenging our technology capabilities while creating new revenue streams and expanding content forms and user experiences. The recent Business of Multiplatform conference in New York gave an excellent overview of the business aspects of Multiplatform television with information that could help companies increase revenue, increase profits and drive viewers.
The one constant throughout the day was the value of programming. It is the thread that ties all the business enterprises together. Without good programming that is curated by platform and is measurable, there is no business.
Here are some programming takeaways from The Business of Multiplatform conference:
Programming is Integral to Branding
According to Showtime’s Matt Blank, programming is the synergistic partner of their brand. "We have been very successful recently with our new shows and that is ultimately our brand,” he said. “Original series are our most important focus." Showtime has undergone a transformative brand evolution over the past few years and programs like “Dexter,” “Ray Donovan,” “Penny Dreadful” and “Homeland” are recognized as valued assets that speak to, strengthen and reinforce Showtime’s brand position. “There is always a shiny new (competitive) object,” Blank said. “It is hard to control what others do so we focus on building our own brand and do a better job.”
Programming Has to be Quantified - But How?
Beyond brand position and looking to monetization, programming has to be quantified. But what are the metrics that we can use to valuate content? Turner’s Will Funk uses biometrics to ascertain the value of branded advertising. "Ads where partners have used March Madness imagery had a Biometric response at the Super Bowl level,” Funk said. “This is against a database of 1800 ads benchmarks."
Wared Seger from Parrot Analytics suggested that program success can be predicted using a "pre-released demand rating that shows how popular and successful a piece of content will perform by platform." Parrot Analytics predicts performance using 30 content identifiers that correlate with previous performances of other aggregated content.
But the question of measurement still comes down to agreeing on the standard monetization metrics used for buying and selling, such as ratings or delivery or reach. Funk averred that "Nielsen doesn't measure TV Everywhere but it is working on it."
Jackie Kulesza of Starcom wants “more set top box data to understand more than age and gender and to make much smarter buys. Who is our target, state of mind, journey to purchase, next purchase intent? Convergence models must be fueled by more data.”
Programming is Platform Specific and Has Different Viewing Opportunities
"It is a different viewing experience watching on a 50 inch screen vs. a 7 inch screen,” said Blank. This different viewing experience by platform plays a role in how, when and where the viewer engages in the content. “Seventy percent of ‘Dexter’s’ viewing in the first season was live. In the final season, 75% of the viewing was delayed and there was a 300% increase in audience,” he continued.
Harmonic ’s Moore Macauley spoke of the technology challenge and solutions with content across platforms. “Storing content in many different formats is a problem,” he said. “‘Packaging on the fly’ re-wraps video content dynamically. But rights change within content by platform and formats.”
Programming Reflects the Changing Tastes of the Viewer
What do “Dexter,” “Revenge,” “Game of Thrones,” “Breaking Bad” and “24” have in common? They are all shows with deeply flawed and subversive characters. “The culture is changing subject matter,” said Blank. Rewards go to those content creators who keep on top of the trends in consumer tastes … and who keep their content quality high.
Gianluca Ferremi of Motive Television spoke of a “quality of the experience” across platforms; “It is difficult to charge for content that is not good quality.”
In sum, as Blank said, “Consumers don't buy transportation (platforms), they buy content.”
I say, programming is the be all and end all. Everything else is just packaging.
Interview conducted by Charlene Weisler, Weisler Media LLC. She can be reached through her research blog www.WeislerMedia.blogspot.com or at WeislerMedia@yahoo.com. Full disclosure: Charlene hosts a street art blog on The Starry Eye blog community
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