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IBC: Broadcasters need ‘local touch’ in globalised world

Broadcasters and content companies with a strong regional or local presence and a focus on creating and curating content can survive in a world where the global scale of companies such as Netflix is increasingly seen as important, IBC conference attendees heard yesterday.

Speaking on a panel session at IBC, Filmon Zerai, COO of ProSiebenSat.1-owned  Maxdome, said that focusing too much on scale could mean neglecting the importance of staying locally relevant. “We are trying to provide entertainment with a local touch,” he said. “You need the right balance between scale and being locally relevant.”

Zerai said that big companies could strike multi-territory deals. However, he said, the key is more about having locally relevant content. “We provide popular content, but also provide the right recommendations. We relaunched our product four or five months ago and people really appreciate it,” he said.

Zerai said that companies like Maxdome were not going to dictate what people should watch but that curation was important, including recommendation. “We use data, but it’s not the whole answer. I can’t completely predict what mood I am in.” He said lists of movies could be based on mood, as Spotify did, and they could also be based on editorial choice.

Zerai said that curation also still had a role to play in presenting content that viewers may not expect or know.

Maxdome will launch its own first original in Germany in January. He said this show “may be too edgy for mainstream broadcast TV.” He said on-demand video meant that Maxdome had the freedom to take risks with the content it chose, and, in this case, produced.

Susanna Dinnage, EVP and MD, Discovery Networks UK and Ireland, speaking on the same panel session at IBC,  said that, for Discoavery, “being number one in a sector [factual programming] that is not necessarily growing” was a position that had to be protected but that the company knew that “organically there were huge areas that we weren’t involved in” and had therefore decided to expand into different genres, including sport via its acquisition of

She said that free-to-air, genres that attracted women and sport had expanded the company’s reach. She said that Discovery had bought Europsport because consumers value sport highly. “We now contract directly with customers via Eurosport Player and we have a lot to learn in direct-to-consumer,” she said.

Arnd Benninghof, EVP and CEO of Modern Times Group’s digital unit MTGx, said that buying content on global scale for linear services did not make much sense. In the digital world, however, costs were very different and the kind of content favoured by Millennials was “very scalable”., involving YouTube talent that may film its content from a bedroom. “These are the new programming brands,” he said.

Tom Toumazis, chairman of audience data specialist TVbeat on the other hand said that the global scale of internet giants with access to data threatened broadcasters’ core advertising business. “The big tech companies have made an industry…by getting to grips with their data,” he said. How consumers respond to adverts can be measured in the digital domain. The TV industry still uses panels to measure audience for content.  “We will see a very rapid change in the way advertising and agencies demand a better of view of who’s watching and how they see commercials. The tech giants are much better placed. Once we can bring linear and catch up data together that is when you can create audience understanding,” he said.