So it is possible to work together…

May 1, 2019

So it is possible to work together…

May 1, 2019
An entirely new company is being created that brings the best of British television directly to the consumer.

Everyone in the media world has now realized that it will be exciting this autumn. The streaming wars are announcing themselves. Silicon Valley took the initiative and became a great new customer for Hollywood. But when Netflix and Amazon came up with their own originals, love quickly cooled off. As usual, the American studios were slow to come up with a new answer, but Disney led the way. Disney +, ESPN +, Hulu, Peacock (from NBCU), HBO Max, and so much more: the number of new streaming services is skyrocketing. Big Tech is also launching through Apple TV + and consumers can no longer see the forest for the trees….

In the midst of all this American violence, broadcasters, who almost all serve a local market, have to find a new answer. For many, that means setting up their own streaming service. Broadcasters have to transform themselves from business-to-business to business-to-consumer companies and that is a completely different game. Painful reforms are the result, whereby these companies have to cut their own flesh and set up entirely new business activities at the same time. Without a doubt a complex operation.

The big question is of course how relatively small local players can hold out against the big Americans. Not only Big Tech is coming in, Hollywood is also pushing at the gate. This was clear to a number of Dutch visionaries years ago: especially Bert Habets and Henk Hagoort immediately understood that they had to join forces to fight Big Tech and Big Hollywood together. But they did it in a polder, without harming their own interests, and did not step over their own shadow. NLZIET was born, but it is a half-hearted product in which the individual organizations mainly continue to promote their own services (Videoland, NPO Start, Kijk).

How different things are now in neighboring countries. Britbox will be launched in Great Britain this autumn. After several years of practice in the United States, this new service is being launched on a grand scale. Not a portal that facilitates the individual, national SVOD platforms: an entirely new company is being created that brings the best of British television directly to the consumer. The majority of the local players have now changed tack and are participating in this admirable initiative. After all, they know: only by making substantial change can they face Big Tech and Big Hollywood!

Things are going a bit slower at our Eastern neighbors, mainly because the legislator forbade cooperation between P7S1 and RTL for a long time. But P7S1 also jumped over its own shadow and started the new platform Joyn together with Discovery this summer. ZDF also joins this consortium with its content, which proves once again that commercial and public organizations can work well together when it really gets tough. The superlative: in France, TF1, M6 (the local RTL channel group) and the public broadcaster start the joint streaming platform Salto. For a long time, the legislator was an obstacle, but in the end understood that local players will not survive without such partnerships. In the fight against Big Tech and Big Hollywood, the French government discarded earlier principles and gave this initiative the green light.

It is all the stranger that in the puny Netherlands the three broadcasters self-interest prevail over the common. NLZIET is in danger of becoming a stillborn child because the three players would rather compete with each other than arm themselves against Big Tech and Big Hollywood. Maybe the parties will change their mind, but now it looks like a missed opportunity. That must be possible in the Netherlands with its strong creative industry.

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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!


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



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...