Ritesh Trivedi, Manager Audio, Viacom 18 Media Pvt. Ltd., Rishtey Cineplex Channel
Today's television experience bears little resemblance to the television our parents or grandparents watched, just as tomorrow's television experience will look very little like today's. We have come from an era where the television networks dictated what, when, and how we watched, to a time where consumers are firmly in control. They want what they want, when they want it, and if one company fails to give it to them, they will click, tap, and search until they find a company that will.
Tuning in to consumer demands is only one of the challenges media and entertainment (M&E) companies face. As the pace of technological change continues to accelerate, M&E companies are struggling to find the right balance between today's daily operational challenges – from channel segmentation and pricing to operating models and content monetization, to ERP implementations and intellectual property management – and innovating for the future. M&E companies are so focused on addressing the issues that are almost behind them that they are forgetting to look ahead. And yet, these companies will go the way of analog if they continue to look to the past rather than shifting their gaze toward the future – now.
So what can M&E companies do to avoid losing the signal? Here are six emerging trends that they should add to their favorites list.
Storytelling. With the evolution of omniplatform environment, television storytelling can be splashed across multiple screens simultaneously. Where today's model focuses attention on a primary screen with other screens such as tablets or mobile playing a supporting role, the model of the future will see these screens working seamlessly together. This omniplatform evolution will impact every system in an M&E company's value chain, from content creation and preparation, to sales and marketing, to distribution. The omniplatform environment and viewers' expectations of control will also impact the story arc through social interaction. Viewers increasingly want to be a part of the experience. Content producers will need to convince the creative community of the merits of choice-based stories, and the IT community of making it technically scalable and cost effective.
Content mobility. As the cost of video screens falls, the demand for content mobility will rise exponentially. With a smartphone serving as the nerve center for the screen world, content will be able to follow a consumer from device to device, location to location. Although content mobility creates a number of back-end headaches, it also creates new opportunities for ad impressions.
Event-based viewing. The future of content creation will soon hinge on building a social experience around a program that enables viewers to be a part of a broader event experience that reaches well beyond the television and living room. The key will be to create event windows to drive relationships with content franchises that are DVR proof.
Content delivery optimization. The remote and channel guide experience has stayed relatively the same for more than half a century. That is about to change. Just as a learning thermostat learns a user's habits and adjusts a home's temperature accordingly, smartphones may soon be equipped to learn a viewer's habits and deliver customized programming that match the viewer's preferences. And at the same time, to make this level of customization real, M&E companies will need to cut through the content clutter using some form of content delivery optimization, similar to search engine optimization.
Binge watching. Blu-ray box sets, DVRs, digital media libraries and players, and on-demand Internet streaming media providers, among others, enable viewers to sit down and watch an entire series in a single day or weekend. This growing form of content consumption may make content delivery optimization more difficult. Yet, with the right content strategy, M&E companies can take advantage of different behavior patterns to create more customized experiences.
More participants, more creative risks. Original programming experiments by Internet streaming video providers offers a taste of the different kinds of relationships that talent will have with distribution partners. New relationship models will allow more industry players to take greater creative risks. On the other hand, it will also place a heavier burden on the systems that track and calculate rights, profits, and participations.
These six trends may reveal the story arc of television's future. Yet, to play a leading role, M&E companies must start preparing for that future today. The alternative is to settle for a bit part that may leave them on the cutting room floor.