Leading figures in the European video industry came together for MediaTel’s Videoscape Europe at BAFTA in London this month.
Representatives from each part of the video value-chain – from producers and rights holders to distributors and aggregators – gathered at the event to discuss growth opportunities in streaming.
The event also confronted the challenges facing established media companies delivering content over the open internet, as opposed to through a TV platform, set against the success story of SVOD (subscription services). Speakers also reflected on new market opportunities, evolving distribution relationships and business models in video streaming.
In a session on the digital transformation of linear TV incumbents and their relationship with subscription platforms, Matthew Bailey, Senior Media Analyst at Ovum, emphasised the importance of premium content for traditional broadcasters, while connected TV expected to be the biggest driver of future growth (+$1.8bn VOD revenues globally from 2018-2023).
Steve Forde, Director of Digital Products and Online Marketing at ITV, and Richard-Davidson Houston, from Channel 4, discussed their ‘free + subscription’ models.
ITV already has 265,000 subscribed to its paid-for ITV Hub+ service, whilst All4 is making a conscious move to reposition VOD from a free “catch-up” service to “boxsets on demand”.
On pricing models, both said free trials for subscription services can drive short term gains, but decrease a customer’s lifetime value.
Citing Netflix’s pricing model, both felt the company would seek to keep monthly fees relatively low, and many observers even expect a price drop when Disney+ arrives in the UK, in a bid to remain the lower-cost option.
With the UK having on average 2.01 subscription VOD services per household, Jack Davison, Executive Vice President at 3Vision consultancy, argued that live sport and original content will be the main factors for broadcasters when it comes to building the leading streaming service.
Amazon, with its Prime Video offering, is already investing in both, with analysts estimating it will spend $6 billion on original content this year. The platform also made a big move into sport this month, announcing it will show 20 Premier League matches a season between 2019-22.
Netflix remains the market leader, currently in 32% of all homes that access one or more VOD service, and is expected to maintain its strong position given its broad range of original content and position as a ‘gateway’ to subscription video. Amazon’s recent investment, however, puts it in strong second place (20%).
As a result video advertising spends remain high, with global TV ad spend predicted to hit $200 billion by 2023.