Changes

January 1, 2019

Changes

January 1, 2019
The takeover battle has never been so fierce.

The media world is changing at a tremendous pace. Sometimes that sounds like a cliché, but it is undeniably true. World Screen News, an excellent source of information for many media experts, only once listed what happened in our world in 2018. It is too much to mention and of an unimaginable scale. There is no doubt: the media world has never been so fundamentally in flux.

First of all, take the unimaginable growth of streaming video. It has taken a considerable number of years for video-on-demand to break through, but now that technological barriers are increasingly disappearing, growth is unstoppable. Growth rates of 60% and more are measured in some parts of the world. Netflix and Amazon are leading the way, but there are an incredible number of new players who want to claim a share of the market. First of all, these are the existing broadcasters and pay-TV operators, but also all kinds of niche players that focus on a smaller market segment. However, the unprecedented possibilities of streaming video mainly mean that the FANGA companies are marching into our world at great speed.

Under this pressure, the existing players in the media world are switching to an old strategy: to achieve as much economies of scale as possible. The takeover battle has never been so fierce. AT&T acquired Warner, Disney acquired much of Fox's assets, Comcast acquired Sky. These mega transactions, each more than $ 50 billion (!), Are the tip of a big iceberg. It does not seem unlikely that this trend will continue, although the impending Brexit and the fragile world economy could of course throw a spanner in the works. But one big deal already seems to be coming: after the fall of obstacle Les Moonves, CBS and Viacom could indeed merge this year.

Because new and old players strive for the favor of the viewer (rather read in the current era consumer), content providers are rubbing their hands. It is all hands on deck for producers, which is why this part of our industry focuses less on acquisitions: none of the larger players ventured into the tasty snack called Shine Endemol. The focus is entirely on finding and developing the right stories and the right talent to write and produce those stories. Not to mention the acting talent that these productions must credibly present to the viewer.

Finally, cable companies and telcos are increasingly focusing on a mix of distribution, exploitation and content. The huge deals from AT&T and Comcast have already been mentioned, but other companies have also been involved. BT is in a frenetic battle over sports rights with Sky in the UK, Swedish Telia acquired Bonnier Broadcasting and giants like Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica continued to invest in content exploitation and production. Apparently, people in all management offices have come to the conclusion that as a (media) company you can only be successful as a fully integrated party (which controls as many parts of the value chain as possible). John de Mol does this "in miniature" in the Netherlands.

Overlooking this battlefield, the big question is of course what 2019 will bring us. Many strategists overlook this, especially given the uncertain times in the world economy as a result of slow growth, trade wars and Brexit. It is clear to media companies that a standstill means a considerable decline. There are still a number of major acquisitions on the way, streaming video continues to grow rapidly and the first providers in this field are going under. A major shake-out / consolidation awaits us in the coming years, starting in 2019.

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Transformation

Change in the media sector occurs at the speed of light. Just over ten years ago, Netflix was a relatively unknown phenomenon and began its first major original production, House of Cards. This month, Dutch Telecom Paper came with remarkable news: in the Netherlands, streaming has surpassed broadcast in terms of viewing time. It's not different in other countries in Northwestern Europe, not to mention the USA. A true paradigm shift!

It is clear that broadcasters, both public and commercial, need to change fundamentally. A paradigm shift, like the one mentioned above, requires profound changes in business operations. After all, these organizations all face the task of changing from traditional broadcasters into digital media organizations. Top-notch change management is required, and the question is whether they have the courage to take major steps. Some broadcasters believe they can keep their heads above water with a few minor adjustments. Often, they talk about transformation, but in reality, there is little of it. Simply tweaking things isn't enough; a fundamental change of course is needed. Thinking digital-first becomes essential, which has a massive impact on business operations.

Ask TV4 in Sweden and TV2 in Norway, and in their wake SVT and NRK. In Scandinavia, Netflix and Amazon Prime had an early impact. The leadership of these broadcasters quickly realized that these new competitors would make life difficult for them. As is typical in Scandinavia, swift interventions were undertaken, and strategies were overhauled. It soon became clear that this was not going smoothly: two years after formulating a new strategy (with a strong focus on streaming) then-CEO of TV4, Casten Almqvist, concluded that the TV4 ship had not yet changed course. What became apparent? The existing management had no incentive to change and was blocking the necessary transformation. Taking employees along on that journey and, if necessary, replacing them is the core of a successful transformation.

In Britain this now is understood. The BBC was early with its iPlayer. ITV has been fully committed to ITVX for the past two years and is making significant strides. Lastly, Channel 4 is moving full steam ahead, with more than thirty percent of its revenue coming from digital. RTL Nederland is the uncrowned king in the Netherlands and has managed to turn Videoland from a problem child into a promising digital platform. In Germany, broadcasters are also beginning to undergo a profound transition, with commercial channels operating a lot faster than their more conservative public counterparts.

Netflix founder Reed Hastings once called Sven Sauvé, CEO of RTL Nederland, a dinosaur when he refused a licensing deal. But it wouldn't surprise me if a large number of European broadcasters will manage to survive in these turbulent times. As long as they transform!

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Podcast met Jonatan de Boer, Tess Scholten en Britt Messing over Gen Z

Jonatan bracht in 2013 het Multi Channel Network Mediakraft naar de Benelux en was daarmee de eerste die hier op grote schaal een business model introduceerde voor social media influencers. Vandaag de dag geeft hij advies aan allerlei publieke figuren en organisaties over hun (social) media strategie, was hij recent interim COO bij Buma/Stemra en vervult hij nu de rol van interim Director Broadcasting bij NEP.

Tess en Britt startten zo’n 3,5 jaar geleden For You Agency. Dit begon met het managen van TikTok-creators maar is inmiddels uitgegroeid tot een allround social media marketing agency dat merken helpt om Gen Z te begrijpen, te bereiken en zich daarmee te verbinden. For You Agency doet dit door social media accounts te beheren, creators te managen en allerlei campagnes te bedenken en te produceren.

- Waarom groeit TikTok van alle social media platforms het snelst, voornamelijk in de jongste doelgroepen?

- Wat is het grote verschil tussen het media maken met en voor Gen Z, ten opzichte van bijvoorbeeld Millennials?

- En welke (media)bedrijven begrijpen dit spel? Welke nog niet? En waar zit dat in?

De antwoorden hoor je in de 3Rivers: Joost Mag Het Weten podcast

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Moonshots

In the 1960s, the United States fell behind in the space race with the Soviet Union. Yuri Gagarin was the first human to break through the Earth's atmosphere, a monumental achievement. Unable to accept this, the United States - through President John F. Kennedy - established the goal of landing the first person on the moon within a timespan of 10 years. The rest is history and the wording of such a distant, grand objective became known as the 'moonshot goal.'

Stating such a goal is even more important when things are a bit difficult. That was the case with Kennedy's example and is the case for many public broadcasters in Europe. The sentiment in politics is generally unfavorable, budget cuts are commonplace, and digital competition is capturing viewership share. Young people are increasingly unable to find public broadcasters, and consequently a significant strategic crisis has emerged. This is the situation in Scandinavia, Germany, the United Kingdom, and in our own country. Let alone the situation in Poland and Spain.

So, there is a crisis in public broadcasting in Europe, precisely at a time when polarization is increasing, and misinformation is rampant. Especially during such times, it is crucial to prioritize neutral reporting and foster a sense of community. Excellent leadership is invaluable in such circumstances. And it's not the first time that the BBC has set an example during such times. Tim Davie, the excellent Director-General of the BBC, spoke at a Royal Television Society event last month. His argument centered around the fact that the future of the United Kingdom is at risk in democratic, social and cultural terms. He saw three roles for the BBC in countering this threat. Pursuing truth with no agenda by reporting fearlessly and fairly. Backing the best British storytelling by investing in homegrown talent and creativity. Lastly, bringing people together by connecting everyone to unmissable content.

That's what you call a moonshot goal! Because what follows from this? The BBC must serve its 'customers' from every platform, at all times. BBC Three will be closed as young people will find BBC content online, via iPlayer. New services are being developed, such as BBC Verify: the future major fact-checker. Interventions will be made in the BBC organization to make all this possible. And finally, the BBC will also explore whether a new, better funding system than the archaic licensing fee can be developed.

Isn't it wonderful? In the United Kingdom, significant changes are being developed from a strategic perspective. In the Netherlands, we only see politically motivated cost-cutting measures within the public broadcaster, neglecting the pursuit of deliberate strategic advancement in the media sector. I rest my case...

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