Content: What’s coming up?

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What are the key transformative trends that are affecting Fremantle, and how are you reacting to these changes?

If we ignore AI, recession, inflation and world events and focus on content trends alone, then within the entertainment space there is a real desire from streaming platforms for content with broad appeal. One of the biggest recent successes was the transfer of the long-established format, Got Talent to Disney+ in Italy. This is the first time a leading global entertainment brand has moved from the traditional space to a subscription streaming service and the results are extremely encouraging.

The desire for established IP is apparent in the scripted space too. The daily drama Neighbours, made by our team in Australia, said farewell to viewers in 2022 after 37 years on air. However, the much-loved show made its return in September 2023 on Amazon’s streaming platform Freevee, and has also returned to local broadcaster, Network 10.

While existing IP is in demand, it is not just a case of bringing the show back exactly how it was. A great example is The Bar, a format launched in Sweden by our label, Strix, more than 20 years ago. It has now been redeveloped to engage modern audiences and was commissioned by Amazon Prime in the UK with the updated title Hot Mess Summer. It is a great example of the benefits of a strong catalogue.

How can we measure success in a transformed and fragmented world?

One of the biggest challenges insight teams face is audience fragmentation. Understanding the performance of a show takes time, but there are still many who are keen to know how a show did last night. This is understandable as we have been trained on publicly available audited data over the last 20 or so years in most markets. It takes time, but there are enough signals out there from multiple data providers so that you can build an understanding based on these and create your own framework of success.

We see that FAST platforms are growing exponentially – what is the opportunity for Fremantle?

Free streaming, whether on demand or scheduled like linear TV are huge opportunities for Fremantle. With subscription streaming in western Europe and the US seeing very little growth in subscriber numbers, then alternatives to watch content in new ways are extremely attractive to audiences. Scheduled free streaming is very much a lean back experience and channels of single IP are important in what, in the US, is currently quite a cluttered space. At Fremantle we are fortunate to have a huge back catalogue for viewers, who can watch for free without having to think ‘what shall I watch next?’.

It also gives us a great opportunity, as channel schedulers, to learn more about consumer behaviour in a way we have never had before. Entering into the D2C space is really exciting for us and we are looking to build on the success we have had already with the channels we have launched in the US and Europe.

“While existing IP is in demand, it is not just a case of bringing back the show exactly as it was.”

Does Fremantle focus on the production of content that attracts specific audiences, or is the focus on everyone?

Fremantle is a company built on providing shows that engage audiences of all ages – the game shows and talent shows that everyone knows and loves. And this is still the ambition for Fremantle Entertainment. But audiences are consuming differently now, and getting those shows with broad appeal is harder due to the vast number of places where you can watch things. Within drama, shows with broad appeal are coming through. So, it’s a mixed approach, some things will be broader, some things will be more niche, and this very much depends on the project and idea.

With the current economic constraints, will the way in which you develop global concepts and adapt them locally be affected?

A good show is a good show. If this is produced and resonates with an audience in one market, then it will often travel to other markets. It must be said that the younger generations are more globally focused and used to seeing people from many different countries doing things on TikTok and YouTube. You can create globallyfocused shows, such as Too Hot To Handle on Netflix. Five seasons of the English language version have aired, along with German, Latin American and Brazilian versions. These have a local feel, but are also international.

Thanks to CTV, advertising is becoming  personalised even on linear TV, would this be something you would expect on the content side as well?

I think on the content side you could say that it would be more about curating your line up, rather than creating your own version of a show, that is personal only to you. So, in the evening, you are served personalised advertising and also personalised content. But who knows what will happen in a few years time with the advancement of AI! How companies adapt and use this new technology will possibly allow a new genre of programming to emerge.

What is ahead for Fremantle?

Fremantle is committed to growing its presence in all three genres, entertainment, drama and film and documentaries. The pipeline in all three is strong, and we will continue to invest in brilliant ideas, creatives and technology to ensure that in the future Fremantle remains the best producer of content globally.

Paul Wood

Paul Wood

Head of Global Research and Insight, Fremantle

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