Will today’s younger consumers embrace video content from legacy media companies? Or will they shift their viewing to relative newcomers like YouTube and Netflix?
According to a panel at the New York Media Festival’s Future of TV event Friday, today’s young consumers will still watch TV content, but it will take some effort to keep them in that ecosystem.
“I think we, in the regular TV business, have got to make it so easy,” said Kristen Finney, executive vice president for the EMEA region, television distribution at 21st Century Fox.
Making it easy is not just about removing friction between consumers and content, but about the full-stack experience, from subscriptions to delivery, to advertising and the bundles the content will appear in.
“It is about creating better ad experiences. We all know that interruptive advertising is not the future, and certainly not the future of TV,” said David Beck, executive vice president for corporate strategy & operations at Turner. “It will be more about personalization, more about leveraging the data that we know about how consumers are reacting to content and to ads. We also want to create better content experiences.”
Embracing streaming video is also about keeping your brand relevant for younger consumers. PBS COO Jonathan Barzilay touted the success of PBS Passport during the panel.
“It is a member benefit, instead of an umbrella or tote bag — not that there is anything wrong with that. For someone who gives $5 per month, we provide access to the archive,” he said. “You don’t just get this week’s ‘Nova,’ you get 2,000 episodes of ‘Nova.’ It is a Netflix for PBS viewers, and it has for us the great virtues of lowering the median age of our subscribers, and also making renewal higher and churn lower. As a member-based organization it is something we see as a huge success.”
Ultimately, legacy media companies are playing the long game, hoping to develop products that will ensure their relevance for years to come.
“When we look at the future of television, we aren’t looking at the next 15 months, we are looking at the next five years,” Beck said, adding that at AT&T, video will be just one component of the offering to consumers, with other products like 5G part of the mix.
Of course, that doesn’t mean it will be an easy sell.
“This intermediation of brands is a real issue in this moment,” Barzilay said, adding that PBS’ unusual brand and status perhaps placed it in a different category. “It is going to be challenging for conventional media brands, but I don’t think it is un-winnable. With consistent focus in super-serving a particular market segment, and consistent courage in terms of getting into business with creatives with an authentic vision, I think it is doable.”