Current Content Trends: What is hot in TV distribution?
Once in a while I do a little non-scientific survey amongst my contacts on various topics. Recently I asked people in my network on what content trends and demands they see around the globe in the TV industry. While this is not an empiric exercise I am sure the trends are obvious. Let’s explore what is there to see it the the TV crystal ball:
Sports is a time-less trend
Firstly, most of them predict a further demand in sports content. Not only will general sports channels stay popular but also fringe sports will be looked for. The digital universe will allow for more niche content and at the same time makes its production more affordable. If you look at the typical channel environment in most of the pay tv / multichannel bouquets, the sports segment is a great opportunity to develop more offerings. Most channels do cover general interest type of sports. This is usually complemented by some male-oriented types of sports channels: automotive sports and extreme sports mainly. And, if you are lucky, you have one or two channels dedicated specifically to the main mass sport in that market; i.e. soccer in Europe, football, basketball and baseball in the US. But that is it. I am sure, some channels that focus on certain niche sports can be successful. You have already golf, sailing and hunting channels. But what about tennis (or racket sports at large), equestrian sports (I am sure the betting industry will love that one). And, of course, for the winter season there is certainly an interest in winter sports. I see this market as yet to be developed fully and especially OTT TV services dedicated to such niches might see a great future.
Special Interest News: a niche, that needs yet to be explored
Secondly, my survey reveals a completely underserved area of content as a future trend: special interest news channels. This is in line with my theory on how news will develop. It will proliferate into more different channels and each having maybe a niche or thematic segment that they cover. And it is not only current affairs: it can be news about anything that matters to a certain amount of potential viewers. For instance, sport news, entertainment news, music news, technology news etc. It might as well be a mix of a thematic genre channel and a news channel. But what it has as a focus is that such a channel will strive to have the ownership of that theme/ genre. It must cover all mechanism of news distribution and it must make sure to bring the most current, most relevant and most attractively formatted news to its followers. Integration with social media is key, of course, in such a strategy and also the focus on building a digital tribe model around that niche.
Who would have thought, but Music could have a comeback
Thirdly, another genre where we will see more diversification will be music. My contacts say that we will see more special-interest music channel and that there will be increasing demand for that. However, I am afraid that this is going to be a tricky one. I think that the music industry has – again – missed to jump onto the bandwagon. There are already other outlets via OTT and Internet at large where the audience can get its music flics and manages its musical tastes via playlists etc. While lately a lot of special interest music channels have emerged, it seems to me that they are too late in the game and that their business model is based on a too high a price (because of the music industry charges, royalty / collection societies, etc). I personally think that the music industry must soon correct this to get at least a slice of the cake. Some artists already leapfrog the development and launch their own channels: like Jay Z or Puff Daddy. And it will be a small step for them to launch it via other outlets and let the music industry stand at the sideline watching again its defeat in the digital world. So, if you can partner maybe with an indie label or major music star, have social media elements involved and shortcut the music industry, you have a good chance to make it in that genre too.
How to make use of the How-To Trend?
While the first three trends are almost natural diversifications of existing genres, the last trend is more the creation of new genre. We see an increasing demand for how-to formats. Ok, you have your cooking channels. And if you are lucky you have a home & garden channel. But that is about it. I do not know of any DIY channel in Europe. I believe it exists in the US, but that is not something you can transport across different markets. In my work over the past decade or so in digital tv I have seen this issue coming up over and over again. You think a channel works in a certain market and then want to have it travel. But not all content will travel so easily. And especially in the how-to segment you need to carefully consider local adaption: and it is my belief that this has hindered investments in such channels yet. You most likely need to produce 80% locally and fresh from start. That is an investment that not many channel creators like to take. The traditional model of using existing libraries is not working here. But the chance is that you can dominate a genre if you are wiling to invest and provide coverage of the subject in all media outlets too. If a market is large enough (like for instance German-speaking markets) this can become a quite attractive investment.
I am confident that these trends will last for some further while. At least from what I see in the market we might be only at the beginning of these trends. So, if you are looking to launch a channel or want to go in other markets and if you are in these genres, you should have a success story in front of you.I can help you to create and implement a successful TV channel strategy.And if you need any assistance in these matters, you know, where to call an expert: contact me.