There’s no doubt that 2020 was a year of forced change for so many of us in the international TV industry. And this change comes as our business undergoes rapid technological development - the most it’s probably seen in its 80-plus year history. With this in mind, and as the extreme ebbs and flows of our industry continue on a daily basis, here are some of my predictions for the year ahead:
1. Data driven “everything”
2021 is the year that will see the start of a new era in our industry, one with a serious focus on the digital acquisition of content. This trend will be led by more digitally-minded executives who will use data to drive the decisions about picking up content. In this new world, margins will be thinner, data will rule the roost and digital efficiency and agility will be critical to success of companies’ growth.
2. The rise of both mainstream and niche VOD platforms (and their buyers)
With the explosion in the number of platforms and correspondingly, content buyers, the number of deal opportunities has increased many-fold for sellers that can get distribution reach. In turn, we will see an increase in a more nimble sector of the industry that is truly super serving niches. Whether that’s dealing with equestrian-based content at Horse.TV or Portico Media for their GagaOOLala.tv, a Taiwan-based LGTBQ+ streaming platform, they will have the capability to source content that appeals to viewers in an increasingly fragmented environment.
3. Physical markets wane, online platforms gain
I am not for one minute saying that 2021 is the end of traditional markets, they will always play a key role when it comes to talking strategy, forming co-productions, networking and knowledge sharing. But with so many already postponed this year, this will no doubt create more traffic flow towards digital marketplaces, like Vuulr, which provides huge choice for someone in acquisitions by aggregating many thousands of sellers’ catalogues in one place, and a meritocracy which completely democratises access to content distribution for sellers globally.
4. Streaming wars - winners and losers to emerge
By the end of 2021, it will become apparent which of the big name streamers hasn’t got the legs to go the distance to roll out globally effectively, and could be looking like a target for acquisition. This leads to a bit of a cheat, a longer term prediction…
5. The next five years…
Whilst the ‘content is king’ vs ‘customer is king’ battle may continue, the reality is that both are very expensive to acquire. The winners of the streaming war will be the ones who have the cheapest access to capital. This will become an increasingly critical success factor to determine a brand’s ability to produce and acquire content - and also pay the increasingly high cost of acquisition of an audience now spoiled for choice. From this point of view, the chances of a newcomer beating Netflix and Disney will grow slimmer.