International content trends

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It’s been a very challenging period for the content production and broadcasting industry, but we’re slowly moving forward. Bertrand Villegas, CCO of The WIT, discusses the current content trends and how media groups need to innovate and develop new offerings to keep audiences interested as we enter a period of ‘re-start’.

What trends emerged during Covid-19 and what will TV look like in the near future?

The key takeaway is that people love TV and need it. Subscriptions to VOD platforms exploded and ratings for linear TV are high. There’s never been so much content available for all target groups, nor so much competition to reach them. What has changed forever is that VOD is not just an option anymore – it drives the content market economically and creatively.

What is pushing innovation in terms of content and programming today?

There’s a new balance between scripted[1] and unscripted[2] programming. The focus, from the point of view of business, creation, and pop culture, is on scripted series more than on entertainment and live programming. That’s where the demand is. But this doesn’t translate into a specific form of innovation. Popular genres are the same as before and most new shows don’t feature anything revolutionary. On the contrary, the TV business is turning into the art of managing Intellectual Properties rather than the art of innovation. Television is currently focused on innovating distribution strategies rather than reinventing content. That’s to say creating, acquiring, distributing, and exploiting catalogues of returnable IP.

How have viewing habits changed as a result of the pandemic and what do you expect in the longer-term?

Viewing habits have changed in one way only: viewing figures for VOD content have skyrocketed. Overnight linear ratings no longer tell the whole story when it comes to evaluating hits and misses. All types of viewing, including delayed viewing, must be considered as this trend will continue to grow with time.

What defines and impacts content production and viewing trends worldwide?

Demand for content is driven by creativity. And when content creators see demand for a certain type of new content, they try to imitate similar content to generate even greater demand, creating content trends. Content is replicated until demand stops and the cycle starts again.

CONTENT
IS REPLICATED
UNTIL DEMAND
STOPS AND
THE CYCLE
STARTS AGAIN
VIEWERS ARE
MORE READY THAN
EVER TO WATCH
CONTENT THAT
ISN’T LOCAL,
AND THIS NO
LONGER MEANS
JUST US CONTENT

We’ve seen a growing interest in local and foreign content recently. Why?

It’s interesting to observe how viewers favour local content but equally, also watch more and more foreign content. For linear broadcasters it’s clear that it is homegrown (scripted and non-scripted) content, that drives ratings. But VOD platforms offering international catalogues of series have made viewers more familiar with, and open to, non-local content in foreign languages. Viewers are more ready than ever to watch content that isn’t local, and this no longer means just US content. As a result of this evolution, linear broadcasters can offer more foreign content and in the meantime VOD platforms can branch into non-English-language content. For example, Turkish series are huge on linear TV broadcasters from South America to Spain to Italy, whilst Asian series are big on global VOD platforms.

Which countries are the most innovative and largest exporters of new formats?

The main exporters of new non-scripted formats are the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. The most sought-after formats are talent competitions: singing, dancing, and cooking. The number of new hit formats is very low – broadcasters’ profit most from re-releasing well-known brands and generating spinoffs, so don’t risk launching something completely new. The country increasingly exporting non-scripted and scripted-content is South-Korea where a lot of the hit linear entertainment programmes (e.g. The Masked Singer) have come from. Interest in South Korean content is currently high – Korean scripted series doing well on Netflix and various Korean series are being remade locally, especially in Turkey. But, overall, globally, buyers are ‘country-agnostic’, meaning they will buy whatever works, wherever it comes from.

What genres have recently gained popularity and why?

We live in an era of talent competition. This is true for social media and it’s true for TV. It’s the genre which works best and travels furthest with dating shows second. TV mirrors the digital world and vice-versa. TV mirrors life. /

[1] Content produced with a script, for example series and movies
[2] Content with unscripted dialogue, for example reality shows, game shows or talk shows

Bertrand Villegas

Bertrand Villegas

CCO, The WIT

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