Accountability from the Columnist

December 12, 2023

Accountability from the Columnist

December 12, 2023
That’s how swiftly things can change.

2023 was again a tumultuous year in both domestic and international audiovisual markets. A lot happened, yet much remained the same. In January, I attempted to predict the major developments. Now, eleven months later, it's time to review and assess: where were my predictions wrong, and where did they hit the mark?

A bold prediction was that streaming would surpass linear television in terms of market share within this year. It's undeniable that the trend has continued, especially due to the significant growth of AVOD. However, the magical 50% threshold has yet to be reached, not least because public and commercial broadcasters (including the constantly-evolving pay-tv operators) fiercely defend their position in the battle for viewers. A prime example is ESPN retaining the Dutch Eredivisie rights. The transition from linear to streaming is thus slower than I anticipated.  

I also foresaw a correction in the production market, expecting streamers to limit their content investments and broadcasters to intervene in their budgets due to the declining advertising market. However, I underestimated the impact: my projection was a 10% correction, but investments decreased much more rapidly over the past eighteen months. As a result, many freelancers in major European countries suddenly find themselves without work, whereas just over a year ago, the market was completely overheated. That’s how swiftly things can change.

Most of the other predictions were reasonably accurate. The projection that AVOD would take off has been proven to be true. Netflix regained its subscriber growth trajectory by fully embracing AVOD. Clearly, the measures taken to limit the illegal sharing of subscriptions played a role, but the availability of a cheaper subscription proved to be decisive. Disney also shifted towards AVOD and achieved success in doing so. Local streaming providers are moving into this same direction, resulting in a sensible mix of SVOD and AVOD. This will accelerate the development of streaming, potentially marking 2024 as the moment streaming surpasses linear TV in terms of market share.

Another prediction was that broadcasters within the streaming domain would concentrate more on their own brands, leading to the demise of joint national platforms. In the UK, ITV launched the new platform ITVX, and competing organizations also increasingly focused on their own brands. Britbox is becoming more of an American platform for British television but hardly plays a significant role in the UK anymore. The impact was even more pronounced in France, with the joint platform Salto being shut down. If NLZIET hadn't clearly positioned itself as a 'cable disruptor' in the Netherlands, it would likely have faced a similar fate.

I also predicted that the consolidation of media companies would be halted. Indeed, major deals didn't occur, and mergers between broadcasters (TF1 and M6 in France and RTL and Talpa in the Netherlands) were prevented by the regulating authorities. These regulators shouldn’t take much pride in this: the reasoning used by the ACM in the Netherlands could also have been written down within six weeks. This made 2023 a media year for many to nót take pride in.

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