Dublin, 7 March 2018
Content arms race shows no sign of slowing
On the morning of Day Two of Cable Congress, speakers discussed the current ‘content arms race’ and its impact on the cable industry. The figures are astounding: Netflix is expected to invest $8bn this year in original scripted content, and is on track to become the world’s largest content investor. Investment from large internet firms such as Amazon, Apple or Facebook is also growing. Analyst Ben Keen flagged the rapid growth of Chinese entrants in this market, with a firm like iQiyi already investing more than the BBC in original non-sport content.
But the traditional pay TV players are fighting back. Liberty Global and Sky are investing in 50 new original series this year, and telecoms incumbents such as Telefonica, Orange and Deutsche Telekom have also begun to produce their own shows. Digital disruption is also a force behind recent industry M&A activity, as exemplified by the proposed Disney-Fox merger, which would make the new entity a giant in original content.
Cable joining the battle
Cable Congress speakers considered how traditional content players can respond. James Currell, President of Viacom International Media Networks in the UK, Northern and Eastern Europe, sees investment in local content as key. US content will always remain the backbone of the content industry, but “in every market we go, we see people wanting to hear stories about them” he said. Building out real-world engagement with viewers is also critical to the success of Viacom’s brands, from consumer product licensing for Nickelodeon characters to live events with MTV. In a content world being disrupted by video on demand and new digital entrants, James Currell reiterated his trust in the pay TV bundle.
Jeremy Fox, from Atrium TV, believes that it is possible to reinvent the syndication model for the VOD age. When large content players invest enormous sums of money into scripted TV content, it makes it difficult for other players, especially non-American, to compete. Atrium TV has built a commissioning club to find and develop quality content, co-financed by various partners who are then able to license the content in their own territory. Its members include some major players, if not yet known for their content production, in British Telecom, T-Mobile, Movistar or ViaPlay.
Deep dive on industry statistics points way to fifth play offer?
These trends were reflected in the more detailed overview of industry statistics presented by Ted Hall, Research Director at IHS Markit this morning, which show that traditional pay TV continues to perform well in the face of competition from new entrants, driven by strong growth in online services. And despite Netflix’s impressive subscriber numbers, its revenues are far behind those of traditional pay TV leaders. Ted sees advanced TV platforms as an opportunity for cable providers to cement their place in the home, even as they incorporate OTT players, and predicts that smart home may develop into a genuine ‘fifth play’ offering within premium bundles.
Further information on IHS’s industry statistics can be obtained here.
About Cable Congress and Cable Europe
Cable Congress 2018 is taking place in Dublin on 6th and 7th of March. Please visit www.cablecongress.com for the latest updates, talk to us on Twitter via @CableEurope, and follow the conversation live using #cablecongress.
Cable Europe is the trade association that connects leading broadband cable TV operators and their national trade associations throughout the European Union. The regulatory and public policy activities of Cable Europe aim to promote and defend the industry’s policies and business interests at European and international level. The European cable industry provides high speed broadband internet, TV services, and telephony to more than 65.1 million homes in the European Union. www.cable-europe.eu
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