Series Mania 2021 - Series Mania Forum
Industry Report: Series
Europe in the streaming age forms the focus of a Series Mania debate
Arte, Starz, Pluto TV and Fremantle discuss the European market, broadcasting quotas, differentiation strategies and the risk of cannibalisation
Amongst the great number of professional conferences organised in Series Mania, within the wider framework of the Forum and the Lille Dialogues, the topic of the growth of streaming platforms (in all their forms) was addressed by Bruno Patino (CEO of Arte), Superna Kalle (the president of International Digital Networks, who is leading the international expansion of Starz-branded digital and linear services and channels), Olivier Jollet (Senior Vice President and General Manager of Pluto TV for ViacomCBS Networks International) and Andrea Scrosati (Group Chief Operating Officer for the British production and distribution group Fremantle). Selected highlights from the debate are as follows:
Talk to us about the European market.
Andrea Scrosati: It’s a market bursting with opportunities. The tax system is very favourable and there’s a huge pool of varied talent. The presence of large platforms is creating a huge, wide-ranging audience.
Bruno Patino: Arte has gone from being a linear channel to adopting a platform format, and artetv re-broadcasts 65% of the channel’s content. When it comes to Europe, we want to enjoy the same trajectory that we’ve experienced on that French-German level. We have great belief in partnerships because we can’t measure up to the giants in the sector on our own. So we work with producers, channels, streamers.
What about the need for European works to account for 30% of broadcasters’ content, including streamers?
Olivier Jollet: Local content is essential because you have to respond to the needs and identities of European countries. French audiences, for example, love French content. You have to achieve a balance in order to satisfy different audiences, and that comes with the creation of partnerships.
Andrea Scrosati: The important thing is to make high-quality series. Such works will sell themselves and will enjoy circulation across different continents. This quota might allow new players to join in, and will contribute towards the diversification of catalogues. But upstream work will remain the crucial factor.
Bruno Patino: What Arte has proven is that there’s a European spirit which we see in series from Scandinavia, Spain, the Czech Republic, etc., despite their different narrative styles and plots, and their tragic rather than epic forms, which set them apart from American series.
How can you stand out from the crowd?
Superna Kalle: Firstly, by way of content. For this reason, on Starzplay, there’s a lot of content for adults: crime, sex, etc. Secondly, partnerships are essential, such as those involving Viaplay, Amazon, Apple, etc. You have to be complementary, to be the premium addition for certain services.
Olivier Jollet: We have a free and a payable platform in 22 markets. You have to work in different time windows in order to succeed in the streaming business, and to offer content which is a must-have for everybody. The big, iconic brands - Paramount, for example, and its famous mountain - help us to reach audiences. Then there are partnerships: being accessible on different devices, as well as working with all the others. Having a good, hi-tech product is very important.
What about the risk of cannibalisation (more content and more brands for viewers who only have 24 hours a day to access them all)?
Olivier Jollet: Studies show that every time a new streamer arrives on the market, it helps to develop the market which is currently experiencing rapid growth. There’s room for different products. How many? It’s difficult to say, but SVOD has a wonderful future ahead of it.
Bruno Patino: The market is more populous but there’s greater diversity. We will definitely see a fatigue effect, but viewers want choice. All streaming services will be able to develop internationally as well as locally. There will be niche areas. What’s crucial is our editorial line. When it comes to public service, ubiquity is the new exclusivity: you have to have a presence everywhere, without trying to encompass all content types.
Andrea Scrosati: In producers’ eyes, the more buyers there are, the better it is. But not all programmes are made for all platforms. You have to fund development, ensure distribution, support creators and find the right channel, the platform which best suits the production. For this reason, we work with Disney+, who are very well positioned, but also with Arte.
Olivier Jollet: There’s a whole jungle of content, and it’s difficult for audiences. Market surveys prove this: viewers might like a platform, but they don’t want to spend hours searching for content. So it’s about short-listing content for them, having the opportunity to respond to different consumption patterns. But you don’t achieve that via algorithms, because even if data is vital for identifying subscriber preferences and gauging audience numbers in real time, machines can’t replace the choices made by qualified curators who are specialised in different types of programming.
(Translated from French)
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