The changing face of content

24/07/13
There are many debates taking place about the future of the media industry.

Most reports are very positive and indicate that there is more money being invested in media business ventures than ever before.

New technologies have created new ways for companies to deepen engagement with consumers. There are more screens on which to watch content and there is now better connectivity over broadband and mobile networks. Consumers can share content, interact with content and even influence the content that is being produced. Technology has also enabled advertisers to target ads at mass audiences, niche audiences, at individuals and even simultaneously push promotions and offers by using second screen technologies.

As these new revenue streams emerge, so do an increasing number of competitors looking to take a slice of the pie. And there is one thing that is acting as the gravitational pull for all of these media industry gatecrashers; that pull is content.

There is an unprecedented amount of video content being made; YouTube recently announced the staggering statistic that 100 hours of content is uploaded every minute to its site. But, more importantly, consumer appetite for content, especially premium content, seems to be far greater than ever before.

Suddenly the media industry is being besieged by supermarkets, online retailers, chip manufacturers, set top box manufacturers, device manufacturers, telcos, mobile operators and more, all looking to make the leap from their core business into the world of content. They are buying up rights to content at a rate of knots and this increased competition has pushed the price of premium content even higher.

But hefty price tags don’t seem to deter these new entrants. You only have to look at recent investments by the likes of Amazon, Netflix, Intel, EE, YouTube, Microsoft, BT and Tesco to see they mean business.

The key question is: why are these companies launching content services?

It seems as if these companies are using content as a way to build loyalty. Their aim is to transform consumers into audiences; and the reason they want to do this is because audiences, by nature, are more loyal and more engaged.

Interestingly, on the flip side, we’ve seen more and more broadcasters, platforms and producers embrace technology as a critical part of their future growth strategy. Huge investments are being made so that content can be delivered simultaneously to every screen and every possible platform, be it on-demand or live. Likewise, the importance of ‘big data’, perhaps once upon a time only considered the realm of the technology and IT worlds, has been recognised by many as the media industry’s new ‘oil’. There are dozens of examples that I could share with you but recent moves by the likes of Virgin Media, ITV, NBC Universal, Sky, BBC and RTL are certainly indicative of where things are going.

On the face of it, some of the new entrants seem to be taking quite a big leap from their core businesses. However, the industry runs the risk of confusing customers by offering complex packages with varying tariffs. Is this the best long term solution for consumers? Or will consumers end up paying more for less?

Stella Medlicott, Chief Marketing Officer, Red Bee Media.
@StellaMed