Following the recent BCMA Leadership Series: Entertainment Matters for Branded Content, we asked Doug Wood, Group Director, Research and Insight, Endemol Shine Group to share his views and insights on the global entertainment market.
Our world of content is going through an amazing phase of growth and evolution. There has been and continues to be an explosion of new platforms all chasing an increasingly fragmented audience. As content producers, this growth opens up a number of new opportunities to connect and engage with our audiences as they move across these new platforms and devices.
Audiences have never had so many content choices, and faced with an increasing number of new platforms, the viewer has taken control over what they watch, when and how they watch it. The quality of content is at an all-time high and this is having a huge impact on the types of content being made. There is a real need to make entertainment that connects and engages with these new and increasingly mobile audiences, creating channel and platform defining content.
So what are the latest trends in the global content market? What genres are resonating with audiences and how do you tell the right stories that will connect to both the linear TV audience the digital global niche?
One of the strongest trends to emerge in recent times is the demand for high-end drama. Over the last five years, TV really has become the new film, with quality and quantity at an all-time high and talent both on and off screen moving into the TV world. The growth of new platforms has been instrumental in fuelling this ‘golden age of drama’ and as producers, it has given us the opportunity to tell new stories and find homes for content that we may not have been able to do before.
At Endemol Shine Group we have an incredibly strong output of drama and are working with a number of platforms in this genre from Black Mirror on Netflix and to new Dutch drama Brussel on telco KPN. New customers are constantly appearing in the market and the examples of Brussel is interesting, as telcos are emerging as a key player for commissioning future content.
But’s it’s not just drama that is thriving, non-scripted formats are also very much in demand and we are seeing the emergence of global non-scripted brands which is an important growth area for us as a business. In parallel to the growth in drama, factual programming has seen a real growth over the last five years and has adapted incredibly well to the changing viewing habits of these audiences. Recent hits such as Making a Murderer for Netflix was packaged in such a way that a 10 hour documentary was able to find a global audience. And back on linear, the top 5 highest rated shows in the UK last year were all non-scripted shows, with long running entertainment franchises like Strictly Come Dancing and Britain’s Got Talent still hitting those desirable prime-time, mass, live audiences.
Another continuing trend in the content world has been nostalgia and heritage, from the Star Wars franchise to remakes of classic TV shows such as Blind Date where you are able to tap into a brand’s established fan base and leverage those positive associations. Nostalgia also plays really well in uncertain times and millennials in particular seem to be embracing this trend. Recent brand research also suggests that feelings of nostalgia connects with millennials on a very emotional level, can humanise brands and forge meaningful connections to the present with research suggesting that people actually spend more money when they are feeling nostalgic.
This comfort in the known, can also be seen in the increasing number of extensions of established formats, striking that perfect balance between the familiar and the surprising. At Endemol Shine Group we have successfully created new iterations of our well-known brands, such as MasterChef Junior, which has now been adapted in 20 territories alongside the regular format.
For us, our shows are not just simply TV formats. It’s important that they move across and connect with popular culture and develop as living and breathing content. Ultimately, the best content is talked about, it needs to be sharable and something that people can engage with. For example, Big Brother, produced by Initial, an Endemol Shine UK company, was the UK’s most tweeted TV show of 2016 and another of our brands, Mr Bean, is now the number 1 TV show on Facebook with nearly 70 million page likes, topping The Simpsons and Family Guy.
In this new, digital world, content and ideas can come from anywhere. New format journeys represent a growing trend in how global entertainment and new formats can be created by connecting directly with the audience with shows such as Car Pool Karaoke (now a fully-fledged format coming to Apple Music) driven largely by its viral impact across YouTube and social media.
Technology is moving very fast, and as producers we are looking to new technology to push our creative limits. Although we are still in the very early stages, we are exploring innovations such as virtual reality and augmented reality to enhance viewer experiences and this will be a really interesting area to keep an eye on for future content trends emerging.
I must also touch on recent political and cultural shifts, most notably Brexit and Trump. There is much speculation about the impact of this changing social mood on new content coming through. Some have argued that much of our content is being made by a cultural elite that is not representative of the wider audience and as producers, we have to ask ourselves whether we are telling the right stories to appeal to viewers.
There are a number of possibilities that may emerge from this, such as formats that capture the stories of the blue collar experience and this can already be seen across many US cable networks with the success of shows such as Duck Dynasty. However, the consensus seems to be that we will see more authentic and genuine non-scripted formats emerge which shed light on social and political issues with untold cultural and lifestyle stories being told with a fresh perspective. In addition, we are very likely to see a growing trend in escapism in the form of variety, entertainment and comedy. Escapism plays out incredibly well in uncertain times when audiences crave distraction and relief.
One thing that is for certain is that there is a big appetite for new content and audiences are watching more than ever before in a number of different ways. The curation and discovery of content in this ever-changing landscape is so important and it is an incredibly exciting time to be at the forefront of this storytelling.
About Doug Wood
Doug Wood has over twenty years’ experience in television research and is currently Group Director of Research & Insight for Endemol Shine Group, having taken up the role in 2015 for the newly merged company. Doug is an expert on global trends for the television industry and also oversees all research on the company’s global hit formats such as Big Brother, The Money Drop, The Island, Your Face Sounds Familiar, Minute to Win It and many more.
Doug joined Shine Group in 2010 where he set up the global research and insight function, working on key formats such as Masterchef, The Biggest Loser, The Bridge and Broadchurch.
Previous to his time at Endemol Shine, Doug spent twelve years at FremantleMedia as a research Manager working across international formats such as ‘Idols’, ‘X Factor’, ‘Got Talent’ and ‘Family Feud’. He began his career at UK broadcaster Channel 4.