Behind the other side of blue screens: The real life of the TV “Magician box”
Programming schedule is a vital part of the channel efficiency and can be considered as a result of broadcasting coordination and transformation of audience demand in accordance to mission of the channel.
We chose 10 leading TV channels, independent media groups and independent distributors and asked them about the specific of their channel schedule elaboration and designing: how do they select the content and what are the factors which have an impact to their choice; which content is more highly rated and which is less among the audience and what expectation does it have today; what are the main tips helped them to develop their channel schedule for prime time and finally what are the challenges they meet today.
Thus we summarized an experience of the following media companies: International Producers Group (USA), Fox TV (Spain), HTV Fun (Malaysia), TV Globo (Brazil), Latina TV (Peru), Armenia TV (Armenia), 1+1 (Ukraine), TRACE Urban (France / Africa Region), DaVinci Media GmbH (Germany), NBC Universal (Asia) and Safe Media (Lebanon).
We couldn’t deny the fact that the television became today some kind of substitution of the reality. It is obviously an inescapable part of modern culture.
We depend on TV for entertainment, news, education, culture, weather, sports — and even music. Television turned into some kind of social drugs and there are still no medicines to heal the society from the TV addiction.
Moreover, an old saying Meal’n’Real would be more actual in rephrasing Real’n’Meal — peoples devour media product with more and more hunger which growing daily in a progressive way.
At the same time modern media consumer became more selective and demands from TV channels to feed them with a new dainty. What is the “dainty” feed to modern audiences, — we were trying to discover by gathering some figures and summarizing general tendency.
Obviously that since the discovering of television the main task of TV management was to find a proper feed to fill their channels to attract more and more audience, but what were the reasons of their success and what instruments do they use to reach it — let’s take a look.
Analyzing all of them we can say that all channels oriented at the same, but use different approaches and strategies: for example Fox TV pay a lot of attention to precise content selection combining strong and popular franchises with wise brand policy; Latina TV and HTV Fun make their main stresses at careful analysis of their audience, world trends, as well as innovative and fun production; Da Vinci Media and TRACE Urban choose one precise and limited segment of their audience; Safe Media trying to find a new approach to reach the audience challenging the new digital reality.
Let`s look to the whole picture step by step, carefully unveiling all important aspects: instruments of the channels schedule development; its strategies, approaches, tips and targeting of the audience.
NBC Universal: We’re very fortunate at NBC Universal to have a bouquet of complimentary channels whose brands have been meticulously cultivated and defined across not only our territory in Southeast Asia, but also across the globe. We have DIVA, which draws a very attractive female viewership for both our affiliate and advertising partners, and Universal Channel our flagship general entertainment channel. Pairing these two channels with our US channel brands, Syfy and E!, we’re able to offer a robust channel portfolio that reaches all audience segments, which afford us the opportunity to benefit from a distribution, schedu-ling, development, marketing / cross-promotion, and acquisitions perspective.
1+1 Media: The first instrument we use for content selection is targeting of new products. It is used for finding precise matching with needs of our target audience. The second is the audit combining with optimization of existing products; there is a tendency to reduce the number of products in daily playlist, choosing 3-4 as the most successful. It seems to be most optimal strategy — to increase the number of outlets and the timing of one or two of the most successful products.
HTV Entertainment Limited: Why viewers have to choose your channel? We must have content that is uniquely valuable by providing content that’s unavailable or hard to get elsewhere plus great user experience. This means it’s easy and pleasurable to watch anywhere on any device. The issues that we need to consider are a massive upgrade versus what’s already available on the web in aggregation, accessibility, and/or design. We need to create the “wow” factor to everyone who views the content in our channel. The overall look-and-feel must be of highest quality too.
TRACE Urban: We are remaining true to our brand and relevant at the same time. TRACE evolves with its audience; you witness this in both our platforms and content. Our channels were born out of a need to provide an under represented community with entertainment that celebrates urban culture in its greatest form — music. Each feed is closely monitored and adapted to the markets it serves, providing the right balance of TRACE values and cultural relevance.
TV Globo: Our intention is to diversify, both in production/proposal of content as in the way how it gets for each viewer.
Da Vinci Media GmbH: Over the years we’ve established Da Vinci Learning as the go-to place for educational content for families. We are very selective in both our acquisitions and productions, because we don’t just want to make sure kids learn great new things from all possible areas of life, but also that they do so in a safe and stimulating environment. Parents trust us and we have to constantly make sure to justify this. We really want family viewing to lead to engagement with the content — whether it’s building a volcano or going to the backyard to dig up some fossils. That’s why a lot of our shows emphasize creation, experimentation and exploration.
Latina TV: There is only answer to the question about the secret of our programming effectiveness: it’s all about the wheel of fortune. There is almost no precise technique how to be successful at the screen, nobody knows this secret formula. Which approaches do we use? First of all we try to get to know our audience within the long period of time. We investigate the preferences and values of the audience. Moreover we are trying to be informed about the main world TV trends: how does the news all over the world are performed, which serials do family prefer- all of this help us to make our final decision concerning our programming. We also produce our own new and unique content. We also try never losing the spirit of our region being oriented at content with specific of national authenticity. Finally we are trying to keep our finger on a pulse of our competitors. It makes us more self-demanding.
FOX TV: A good selection of content, combining strong and popular franchises with brand. As we can see some of channels freely open their cards, other ones keep their tips in secret. Every company has its own approach and strategy. Any way all of them gave the same aim: to satisfy and to overcome the growing demands of their audience and to make it after all even larger. This task annually worked out by different departments from defining the audience values till financial statistics and dates.
As you can see, each has its own strategy for programming and individual approach. That is why all of them the giants and are at list at the top 3 of their region or state.
So how do they such results? Actually the secrets are on the top: they feed their audience with a delicate which has never been tried before mixing them with the most delicious content which is already known by the audience.
Obviously that the process of content selection depends on inner factors and the specific of the audience: if some region more patient and emotional or less, what preferences and priorities does it have — all this psychological factors pay a vital role. For analyzing demand and consumption the channels usually try to analyze their audience and in accordance with a general image they create a further strategy.
What is the process of the content selection, which factors do they pay their attention and which analysis do they usually perform before — our experts will try to answer at all this.
At the very beginning let’s give a word to distributors which cooperate with channels:
International Producers Group: On a regular basis, I contact most of the major US broadcasters and ask them straight out, “what is your current programming strategy “TODAY”. I do this because there are always new buyers and management to consider which seems to take place often. Each bring with them their own vision of what they would consider as the type of programs (content) they see the channel gaining the most viewers. It often does not work which is another reason I am in touch with the buyer to find out exactly what kind of content for which they are open to screening as a possible license. This is a big challenge because what you often see on the channel is not necessarily what they are looking for. They may be running out the clock on a series or license agreement. The one thing I do NOT want to do is send my customers new availabilities on programs that I know they would not have an interest. BUT… then I have what I call the “YA NEVER KNOW” category. I send them an availabi-lity of a program that almost fits into their strategy, but not quite. So, I ask them to take a look because, “Ya never Know”!!! It is a challenge trying to keep up to date on all the programming needs of my American Broadcaster and VOD customers and I spend a great deal of time doing this.
SAFE MEDIA SARL: If there was a secret formula for everything nothing would ever fail, there’s a huge surprise part within! The psychology / emotions of the consumer behaviors is the key element! This can never be measured! Predicted may be but not measured. The recommendation is “Know your audience”, that will eventually lead to the content they want! The better you know them, the better you can cater them, sit with them, and listen! Give them attention, spend time, watch, observe this helps understand their needs and attend to their content needs.
It means that distributors and productions have never known how the audience will meet their product. It seems like tightrope walking for them: one wrong step and they could fall down. It`s a kind of extreme activity especially if there are your asset which are at a stake.
Does it really so hard process indeed? What is the position of those who directly make a decision what are going to be at their channel schedule in prime-time?
HTV Entertainment Limited: First of all, we will look for one of a kind unique content that isn’t available anywhere or hard to get elsewhere. Then we will see whether the content is relevant and appeal to the platform/channel mission, “Connects you with fun and unique content from the world”. This will attract audience although not a big audience but maybe others have not reached them yet.
Working with the right business partner is also part of the content selection criteria. Since we are a new channel, we want to build a strong business partnership with producers and distributors who can work together through thick and thin.
Financial models of distribution channel deals, legal rights to air and content suitability based on local requirements, for example no to nudity, story theme based on gay / lesbian or high level of violence in film is also banned.
Armenia TV: We believe that except of news we need to broadcast comedy stand ups, sitcoms and soap operas of our national production. In addition, we actively use the Brazilian soap operas, which are already more than
20 years of presence in our market. 90% of the grid takes our content: sitcoms, morning shows, food-shows, social-oriented talk show. It is more reasonable to create our own content as we want it for ourselves.
Fox TV CHANNELS: We work with two genres for prime time: series and feature films. In terms of films we always look for strong blockbusters, easily recognized for the audience. Regarding series we create our prime time plan with the more mainstream content in the slots with more consumption. We have a deep knowledge of the market, trends and – even programming is not an exact science – we have enough tools for creating a successful prime time.
Da Vinci Media GmbH: Our channel is somewhat unique insofar as during the day our primary audience is children, while access primetime is reserved for joint family viewing and from 8 PM (or 9 PM in certain regions) onwards we present documentary content for adults. Because we offer a wide range of educational content for all ages, we have different primetimes for different audiences.
TRACE TV: Selecting the content for prime time is based on our own criteria of ‘heat’. We make sure that these evening slots are filled with content that is a hot topic amongst our young audiences at the time. With our urban music channels, the schedulers are working around the clock to determine the artists that will be trending
at periods in the year, as well as continuing to monitor the popularity of urban singles around the world.
NBC Universal: With the recent influx of Video-On-Demand players in Asia and globally, we’ve had to take a stand of late with the type of content and the rights we require when choosing content for primetime. The fight is no longer with other linear channels (new or established), but rather with these players who are spending an inordinate amount of money to snap up first run and exclusive global rights to prime time content. In the initial launch and investment stages, some of these companies are driving up the costs of content that has traditionally been the staple of Pan-Regional general entertainment channels — US studio based content. We’re now forced to be creative in choosing our content, to ensure we’re still offering our subscribers something fresh, unique, and entertaining.
Thus, we can highlight a few key points we create our formula of success: it should be the high quality new unique product; someone relies on their intuition and experience; it happens that a key role to play for content is genre; for the world’s major channels it is also important to be recognized as brand; and sometimes, it is necessary to look at the competitors, to determine what makes them ratings, and create a similar or even better product. That’s it to create a kind of new type of hamburger.
An important factor was the business partner requirements of reputation and financial transactions distribution model.
We decided to clarify in which extent is hard to work for TV channels with their “business partner”.
SAFE MEDIA SARL: Handling a Channel is not an easy job or task! This clearly reflects on transactions with all its supply chain management, even more complicated when comes to content. The decision making process is long, takes a lot of time especially with a selection committee, then chasing the payment. As we are evolving so fast in TV into the unknown, audiences is harder to please, the risk factor is very high causing the advertisers to spend less. All this makes it not an easy! We all know that all TV channels when cutting down cost the first they take out is budget for content! The simplest would be government channels as all they do is media propaganda of the honoring the governments, and content to them is basic wall paper!
International Producers Group: It is difficult importing foreign Independent documentary program-ming to an American channel mainly because they have a very high standard for the quality and the content must have a strong appeal to American audiences. Oh yes, it is also important to have English dubbed versions with a few sub titles as possible. AND… today only HD programs are acceptable.
All of them try to create their own unique product which would be able to differ qualitatively and concur at the world media market. All of them bet on horse of fun which traditionally winning and dark horse of national consciousness.
All of them have both as something in common as well precise differences. Thus all media companies, which were interviewed, in average give from 75% till 90% of their air-space to national content produced and released by themselves or their national fellow colleagues.
1+1 TV: We try to invest approximately 75%-80% of our budget on prime, most off time filled with reruns of our old, proven products. The average cost of an hour of the product in prime off time more than 3-4 times. Taking into consideration the optimistic estimation of the Ukrainian advertising market volumes in 2016 which is in average $200 million the most economically reasonable price for an hour of ready-made product is approximately $30-35 housed. Any way it’s quite hard to talk about some definite figures and content cost recovery by the advertiser. Sharp changes at the price of currency make this task even more complicated. It is clearly that no one from national channels is really profitable in recent moment and the tight times are getting over only due to the support of the stakeholders investments.
Armenia TV: Depends on the type of content percentage of profits may vary from 30% to 150 %. At the case of Brazilian soap operas payback is 30%-40%, regarding our domestic sitcoms it could be even 150 %.
Da Vinci Media: There is no significant difference in cost between prime-time and the rest of the day, as the content rotates. Apart from a few countries, we haven’t relied heavily on on-air advertising so far. Where possible, we want to be able to offer a safe environment for kids, which to a lot of parents also mean an ad-free environment.
NBC Universal: In the past, we would look at content acquisition costs and compare these to the projected ratings performance and ad-sales revenue of a particular slot. In the case of my pay TV linear channels and in the face of the on-demand players coming into market, we no longer focus so much on this time slot. I believe it’s still somewhat relevant to free-to-air terrestrial channels, but for us our focus has slightly shifted to acquiring unique, appealing content, with a level of exclusivity no matter the time slot. We look at our channel as a whole, rather than varying day parts. We have a ranges of prices for which we’ll pay, that averages out. We try not to pigeon hole content into a specific price range, but rather if there is a series or film title that we feel strongly about we’ll step up and pay more than market rate. Likewise, for content that is more filler than driver, we’ll drop my acquisition costs anywhere from 25-50%. We’d all like our content costs to be covered by advertising and affiliate distribution revenue. Some of our channels internationally are able to go above and beyond these costs. Though, returning to my earlier point about what makes our channels so effective, it also comes down to variety of content and channel brand. Advertisers are more willing to support a programme or channel based upon the association of the brand vs. the performance of a specific title, as well our ability to spreading their marketing message across a variety of channels for optimum reach.
FOX TV: We play in a market where pay TV has a 30% of penetration, so it’s really complicate to find advertising investment for paying the content. We have started to work in branded content but the reality is that we are still far to find a model where the strategic content would be paid with advertising.
All of this confirms the fact that political and economic situation determine the state of business, especially it concerns media industry. After all, when there is a striving for bread there is no need in entertainment, but when everyone is sated it’s getting bored and it is already time for entertainment. It creates a base for advertising market, one of the sources of financing of TV industry.
Consummation demand is growing as well as the expenditures of the channels have an eager to satisfy the passion and the hunger of their tempted audience. That is why the channels, especially those who have to be more careful with their budgets while the creating of their “magic potion” aggravated by the wild capitalism and economy recession, optimize their feed using new products targeting and reducing the number of old ones.
Whatever happened, the channels schedule should be filled out. So what are they the tips according to which the final decision about the content buy are made? What is the key point?
1+1 TV: The key factor is the estimated effect of originality. We are interested to find something that will be perceived by our audience as something new. At the same time, the product should be understandable to our audience (for example, we are not interested in youth product, or a product of nostalgia for the audience). In other words, the main task of programming is to see unique, unusual, new product potential mass-market trend for several seasons. We are trying to look at the product through the eyes of our target audience and understand how interesting topics are, in which extent characters are familiar and recognizable, whether the storylines are intriguing, if a proper proportions of the humorous element are exists, if there is a balance between optimistic degree and dramatic intensity. This requirement is valid for all time slots and t our attention is concentrated on this aspect first of all. For prime-time also becomes important potential of watching non-targeted audience, ideally — the possibility of family viewing. Obviously, there are areas, themes and conflicts are close and understandable to the masses in general. We have identified 3-4 areas for which we make purchases for, their mesh products — it is Ukraine, the CIS, Turkey, USA, Europe. We try to explore deeply the features of the products to understand the trends and main strengths of each Production. In order to be included in the focus, the product must be properly innovative, bright, with minimal localization or connected with our country.
NBC Universal: The deciding factors are always: how does it fit into my current inventory, will it outperform content for which I currently have the rights acquired, and does it satisfy my ad-sales and affiliate commitments. Ultimately, by the time it comes to making an offer I’ve already assessed the content strengths and weaknesses. Utilizing previous ratings performance, stakeholder feedback, and brand fit we can quickly identify if a series is going to work for us. The challenge when acquiring a programme is determining whether or not the content is going to succeed in its original market. This is where the knowledge of global markets other than your own comes in to play, its crucial to be aware of content’s potential to be renewed before making an investment as an acquisition.
It’s not critically important from what country content, though it is a consideration based upon the known production quality for a specific territory. We are happy to source content from any country as long as it is strong creatively and works for our channel. For the most part, we do tend to look at English content only, simply because it’s a language a lot of our viewers in Asia speak or have some understanding, even though we subtitle everything in local language.
TRACE TV: Purchasing content has become a very large part of our activities more recently because of our work on the TRACE Play platform. We are building this service for viewers who enjoy urban culture. It was important to identify content that would not just resonate with our audience, but also entertain, empower, and engage them. In each territory we will launch, the teams have been working on identifying unique, trendy, and popular programming that will make TRACE Play a must-have amongst the Afro-urban population in that region.
TRACE sources content from across the world, and makes sure it fits our urban music programming and sport lifestyle themes respectively. With TRACE Tropical and Toca, the source country, or region, will more than most times be the same, e.g Angola for Toca and Latin America as the music on this channel. TRACE Urban has hip-hop from across the world, with the South African and Rest Of Africa feed containing localised content. These are just some examples of our views on the source country, we try and localize where possible but remain providing the best content from the channel’s vertical.
Da Vinci: Our acquisitions committee evaluates the content based on educational and production value, creativity, storyline, target audience and so on, but also how it complements the current channel offering in terms of genre, target audience or format. We also pay close attention to the needs of different markets — what may work really well in Singapore, won’t necessarily work in Russia or Romania. So we rely on feedback from our regional teams in all these countries and of course feedback from operators and above all viewers, which is the most precious.
Once all these factors come together, we decide on a programme for Da Vinci Learning. We won’t buy in bulk just because it’s easier or it may bring down the acquisitions cost, because a big part of having the best educational programming is hand-picking each show. And once picked, the prices vary significantly depending on the region, for which we acquire, whether the show is animation or live action, or for example whether it’s an observational documentary about animals or a lavish re-enacted docudrama.
Latina TV: All materials that appear in Latin America are carefully tested. There is nothing to choose only ruling by “intuition” or with the assumption that “may or may not” like the audience, on the contrary, we must be sure of that. Thus, the solution adopted also by taking into account the opinion of our audience, because we are working for them!
Evaluations, which can make the area, solutions that can take the lead, always include the results of tests carried out for the target audience.
Fox TV: First of all, when we are going to acquire of content we analyze, which are the lacks of the channel, what show has been cancelled, its profile and how to keep the same kind of viewer for its replacement. Once we have screened the content we also take in consideration where this product is going to be scheduled in US, when, the competition, etc. With all this information we are more comfortable to decide if the show is good for our channel or not.
Our schedule is built mainly with US content. Local scripted production is more successful in free TV and pay TV viewer is more receptive to the US shows
Finally after analyzing all of them — the findings were quite predictable, the decisive factors are the potential of mass-market trend for several seasons (interesting and related topics, familiar characters, intuitive sense of humor); it is important to clearly match the interests of your audience by age and gender; minimal localization; quality and again quality; advancing trends — modern, fashionable, innovative. TV channels from the nearest countries are betting on their own production. Often, they have their own special tendencies which are based on the historical and cultural values. It is clear that the national or self-production is a feather in one’s cap for every country. Some, on the contrary conduct special tests to identify the interests of their audience and have the results of selected content. It’s quite unusual and interesting way of making decisions, especially if it works. For example, this approach uses a Latina TV.
Some platforms are covering half of the world, guided only by western producers. On belief of many — that they set new trends in production.
At the same time they are all have their strictly ordered audience, thematic and sometimes completely different approaches in content selection. Some of them oriented at the global audience in accordance with their interests and demands such as Fox TV, Da Vinci Media, TRACE Urban.
For example, Da Vinci TV gives their preference to creative educational product of high quality predominantly oriented on children and family and TRACE Urban dedicated to the many means of expression of urban culture: music, fashion, sport, film, dance, etc.
As we can see both, as Da Vinci as well TRACE Urban, control their feed content very carefully trying to find balance between consumer demand and declared values of the channels.
Predominantly all channels agreed that the biggest rate they usually receive from national talent, comedy (stand ups) and reality shows as well as from quality serials. That’s why they use this main content in a prime time.
Concerning the sources which TV channels use to fill up their “magician box”, it depends on the regional, cultural tradition and off course their purse. Thus the region of Latin America used to buy media product at USA or make it by themselves.
Post-Soviet countries traditionally exchange their products or make it jointly such as Ukraine and Russia (there are still a lot of joint media projects despite the political disagreement between the states).
Most channels produce their own content, and those who want to establish new partnerships with the ability to enter new markets make their projects in co-production. Co-productions it is also a way to use for production common budget. Accordingly there are much more chances to release their movie or program in cooperation with one or two partners.
1+1 TV: Our strategic goal is to fill the grid by over 80% of the national product and 65% — of our own. Localized product has a better ranking potential and own product best fits the brand.
We do not produce content ourselves at this moment but we have planned to work in co-production in the future. We are interested in web series suitable for the whole family. Our current plan is to focus on brand building since our channel is still young. We have many requests in co-production and we will surely consider it when the timing is right.
TRACE TV: The positioning of TRACE Sport Stars has been largely characterized by our exclusive access to sport’s biggest names. With this in mind we produce a lot of content ourselves, involving traveling, partying, and celebrating with the stars. We also have a very beneficial partnership with Australian production company Inverliegh who supply about 100 hours of content per year. In total the content broadcast on our feeds is 60% production and 40% acquisition. For our music channels, to accompany the streams of popular urban music, we regularly bring in the artists for interviews. This means that about 10% of content on the music channels is produced by TRACE. It’s important to be first and foremost music channels but also offer something different in our Guest Star interviews.
Also we have tried to localize our feeds when and where possible. You see this today with the multiple feeds across TRACE Urban, TRACE Sport Stars, and TRACE Gospel. The programming is also adapted to the market it serves with regular celebrity features that are popular in the feed’s region.
TV GLOBO: In co-productions, the highlight of 2015 was the novel “Salty Sea”, co-produced with SIC, Portugal, which was the most watched program in the country in 2015, with over 1.7 million viewers a day.
The client portfolio was enriched with 75 new companies. Thus, growth of the year, compared to 2014 was 10%.
DA VINCI MEDIA GMBH: We decided to produce our own short-form series. We also wish to become more local in certain markets and introduce more diversity. This is why we are producing our own 26-episode children’s series on famous scientists which doesn’t cover the usual known Western European celebrities like Newton or Einstein, but also women which have so far been marginalized, as well as scientists and inventors from Asia, India or the Middle East.
Latina TV: At the present time Latin America can be totally satisfied by the fact that here is almost 80% (not 90 %!) of national content at her TV screens.
Fox TV: Currently we are working with 4-5 titles per year including The Walking Dead, Outcast or Wayward Pines. All this series are brand defining shows that have a lot of marketing effort behind, we premiere at the same time in all the markets and they have strongly contributed to the success of the channels around the world. I think that local scripted production on pay TV is one of the big factor successful in our market, but it’s an expensive format and we need to be sure of doing it without too many risks.
TV production is a continuous process, which needs a permanent modification at filing the stories and technical terms. But what remains the same in this process is an ever increasing consumer demand. And no matter how much we have of the finished product, there is always something missing. So, what the channels would like to handle with? — We asked this question to our experts and now can clearly understand their expectation and aspiration:
TRACE TV: Content that successfully represents the culture of a niche audience. This is a gap we are bridging with TRACE Play for the Afro-urban audiences. Mainstream content is exactly that — mainstream. We have shown with our linear TV channels that serving a niche audience; serving them well, can give you the base for a successful multinational organization.
I would recommend manufacturers, especially those from a minority background to consider developing into more niche areas, cultures that are underserved by the mainstream media. Stay true to your culture, stay true to your brand and you can create something great, just like we have with TRACE.
Thus, if you’re still looking for a media market niche for realization or have a drive to grow up your business, Oliver`s the advises would be certainly useful for you.
Da Vinci: In general, educational content for a 6+ audience isn’t easy to come by, with most producers still focusing on pre-school, especially when it comes to animation. We would love to see strong math programs for older kids, shows about different careers / professions but also programs about health and fitness that parents can watch together with their kids. There is no limitation in terms of genre or format for us — so long as it’s enter-taining, educational and has that certain something to stand out, we’re happy to have it for Da Vinci Learning.
International Producers Group: We have probably more than 400 channels in the US and each have their own demographics and programming. The broadcasters and VOD companies I deal with are looking for high quality newer HD programs and series about Science, History, Crime, Investigation, Medicine, Travel with People and Cultures including food, Current events, Sports, Military, Nature and Wildlife, Health and Retirement, Gay and Lesbian programming, programming for women, and the one I do not even bother with, Reality non scripted. Programs with on camera hosts generally do not work unless they are speaking English and the host has to be enthusiastic, authoritative and look and sound like they know what they are talking about. If the programs have a voice over narrator, a mid Atlantic English voice is OK, but the narrator should have some acting ability to be convincing. In many cases, a broadcaster may want to use their own American narrator and record over the one on the program.
We should also to mention concerning the localization:
Fox TV: I think that local scripted production on pay TV is one of the big lacks in our market, but it’s an expensive format and we need to be sure of doing it without too many risks.
Finally, there are some precise advises from our experts:
NBC Universal: I can’t wholly take credit for the answer to this question, as it comes from something Brandon Tartikoff once said in an interview 25yrs ago. “The end of network television will come if all it is an endless sea of sitcoms and reality shows.”
It’s important to develop original ideas and content, don’t fall prey to the trap of chasing a trend. Viewers want to be entertained; they don’t want to have to sift through an endless schedule of content that is simply a variation of the same basic format.
That being said, I’ve always said you can’t go wrong with monkeys, people for some reason love monkeys!
However, to be aware of the precise aim, we should be able to analyze the market and our target audience. To be able to predict what will be important in a year at least. Naturally, without an understanding of the current favorites it would be difficult to do. Therefore, we offer you to get acquainted with some of the products that are holding the audience today. It will be useful as for production as well for TV channels.
NBC Universal: We’ve recently acquired from Warner Bros. the unscripted series Little Big Shots, which airs originally on our sister channel domestically in the US. We identified this series early, prior to the launch in the US, where it quickly became the highest rated new unscripted series in 18-49 of the past 5 years. Here in Asia, the series also premiered to fantastic ratings on DIVA. What makes this show work is simple, KIDS. It’s not a programme that puts kids in unusual adult situations or is filmed in such a way to target only children viewers. This is key; this is what makes the series appeal to audiences of all ages. There’s no pandering to a specific age or demographic. While it might sound easy to create such a series, it’s the gentle balance between adult humor and kids being kids. It’s a mix between Got Talent the classic US format Kids Say the Darndest Things, its pure genius. It’s not surprising though, as it comes from the godfather of reality and unscripted television,
HTV Entertainment Limited: Asian Dramas has the most viewed so far in our channel followed by food and travel content. We see some promising signs in the ratings of the few food programs like Simple Food, Fun Food and Foodlab International distributed by MK-Distribution.
TRACE TV: As you can imagine, celebrity features are always the biggest talking point. Our Guest Star programme is formed by exclusive interviews with the most popular urban artists in the world. In Guest Star, the celebs reveals their secrets and their plans for the future. With this programme, viewers get up close with their favourite artists, like never before.
Guest Star has been a firm favourite since TRACE’s inception and we will continue to provide the best artists a platform to promote their music and new ventures. It also takes viewers into a space where they can reach an understanding with their musical heroes and role models, something not always possible through the medium of music.
Given the success of this show, we have expanded Guest Star programme to all of our music channels — TRACE Urban, TRACE Tropical, TRACE Africa, TRACE Toca. TRACE Gospel has its own GUEST STAR programme, which is called GLITZ, GLAM & GOSPEL where Mario Winans Jr, a key figure in the Gospel music world, meet up with famous Gospel personalities in Los Angeles, USA.
LATINA TV: While our great shows, entertainment formats and media content are extremely powerful on our screen, the most visited of the program belong to our stellar unit telenovelas (fiction content).
The reason is that an innovative product, the stories are the stories of light perception, the book (script) of our TV-novels are extremely powerful and have deep storylines. Every next chapter has a “sensation” in history, and thanks to these critical moments, our TV-novels are always full of new within the same story. Characters grow, develop, change, will melt known, do not remain as they were originally. Stories intertwine. And all this with great skill, which not only touches the audience and leads them to validate themselves through the main characters, which are reflected in them, and involved what is happening to them. We should also remember that literature is characterized by a special “intimacy” with the audience, as there is a continuity that makes the viewer to follow by it every day, to know that this time would happen to his “new friends”, which in practice they are; suffer with them, rejoice with them and live with them every day.
Fox: The Walking Dead, Last Man on Earth, X-Files, NCIS LA, Bones, a combination of classic procedurals that usually works well in our market with worldwide big franchises like The Walking Dead and X Files.
SAFE MEDIA SARL: Few years back in the MENA region it was all about Reality TV (Star Academy, Survivor), Gaming shows “Who want to be the millionaire?”, Then came in the Turkish Series 3 Shows a night back to back, in the 90’s it was the Latino soaps, later came in FORMATS (The Voice and The Idol, Dancing with the Stars, now it’s sort of the Pan Arab Drama).
As you can see, all of the content selection factors that are listed in this article are totally and completely reasonable. The facts mentioned above approve this finding at the whole extent.
Another key point is the overall development of the media industry at each different country. It depends on growth rate and the possibility to implement and utilize innovation and new technology. It makes an impact not only to the demand of the audience and desire to earn money, but also to political, social and economic situation in general.
The way audiences watch television has transformed over the past ten years, more than it did for the past fifty. No matter what name or technology used, the option of watching selected programs anytime & anywhere changed everything in TV forever.
NBC Universal: On-demand, on-demand, on-demand. There’s been no bigger change in the industry over the past 10-15 years, full stop.
1+1 TV: Due to the Russian occupation of the Crimea and the war with Russia at Donbas, the Russian content was statutory imitated. It is ought to be mentioned that some channels are elaborating their c grids for prime exceptionally on the basis of Russian content, so now you can imagine what will be the impact of such statutory limitation for them. Moreover due to global media market stagnation there is also reduction at sharing the reality show.
TRACE TV: TRACE has always had a fairly young viewership, that being an audience consisting mostly of millenials. Research we did showed that 70% of our subscribers are watching our TV channels whilst using a second screen. For us, we felt an obligation to launch TRACE Play because the way in which our young fans are consuming content is increasingly digital.
HTV Entertainment Limited: In our opinion, series and movies ratio of views are equally distributed between the 2 formats. For example, Korean series and Hollywood movies are watched worldwide. For TV shows and cartoons ratio of views, it will depend on the content popularity and target audience. However, we believed cartoon has better views ratio because many viewers will watch cartoon no matter what is their age including me. Entertainment genre always stays on top of the popularity chart. However, educational content has long shelf life and popular among parents. Parents prefer to let their young kids to watch edutainment content when they are busy.
Entertainment TV shows like reality program are gaining popularity among the young generations in recent years especially in Asia. Documentary genre always claimed a spot on the popularity chart although not the top but worth to watch genre.
What are the most challenges you meet nowadays? And what are your plans for the future generally and for second part of the year 2016?
ARMENIA TV: We are continuing to be oriented at our home-made sitcoms and serials, and will try to implement at our live broadcasting some night-shows and stand ups.
NBC Universal: We’ve had a lot of success so far in 2016, so thankfully we don’t feel an urgency to correct any glaring holes. Instead, we plan to work a little more closely with advertisers and agency in crafting concepts and ideas which can be fully funded through product integration. As mentioned earlier, original content is important but it’s necessary for us to work with our advertisers from the start and tailor a concept that fits both of our needs.
SAFE MEDIA SARL: The main fact we can agree on is that audience are constantly changing. Multiple screens, devices or platforms have shifted the audiences into era far from the normal TV, as it had always been known. No one wants to wait behind a TV screen anymore to wait until their favorite show comes. Moreover, 80% of most audiences and views worldwide watch TV with another screen in the same room simultaneously. We spend approximately more the 50% of our time behind digital devices. When the very popular Ellen DeGeneres selfie on Twitter attracts 80,000 retweets in three minutes and over one million in less than an hour.
This is a perfect example for where audiences are shifting and going. Interesting question, ask yourself “If you had to give up on one of the two, rather give up on your TV or your Mobile phone?”
The answer is simple I can’t live without my mobile! There you go that’s the new TV screen. It’s even a challenging process for viewers not everyone is very cooperative to pay money in order to watch TV. In the MENA audiences still need time to understand it, that something they always got for free or pirated they will be paying for. Individuals have not got into the habit of using or giving their credit card num-bers to strangers or online! It will take a bit of time for them to relate paying per view.
HTV Entertainment Limited: We are interested in web series suitable for the whole family. Our current plan is to focus on brand building since our channel is still young. We have many requests in co-production and we will surely consider it when the timing is right.
TRACE Urban: In June this year, we will begin the international rollout of our SVOD platform TRACE Play. Entirely dedicated to Afro-urban entertainment, it will be filled with series, films, documentaries, and even our linear TV channels.
FOX: Last years have been really exciting in our market. All the non-linear consumptions has completely changed the model of the channels, the type of content in the schedules, the ratings analysis and also the channels have strongly improved the timings for premiering the content, being close to US or UK premieres, trying to avoid piracy. We are living the best moment in terms of penetration and the entertainment is also living its best moment in terms of number of series and quality. So, go the market and find the best product for our channel is a challenge because there are hundreds of series that people are expecting or talking about.
Summarizing everything we can say that the era of television is still far from its sunset, obviously that despite the emerged challenges it is on a summit of its bright development. Hard times require conceptualizing all approaches and reconstructing all existing instruments at TV production. At the same time new challenges creates a favorable environment for productions to be unique and really extraordinary, to be real in its aspiration.
What do audiences want? In all areas of television they hunger for surprise.
With so many channels audience scatters its attention. Furthermore, channels are initially limited in the offers. Therefore, all oriented on the top content which can be put on repeat. And if you spend millions on a production then you must have a large quantity show, to cover costs and earn. And it’s a complete red herring to think that viewers never want to see a programme twice.
Digital channels also encourage experimentation and risk-taking from new writers. It’s a very interesting time for television, and the future is there to be thought for.
That’s all about shared experience. Television still has the ability to bring people together, to create communities with something in common on a scale no other medium can really rival. That remains incredibly potent because it means TV not only reflects popular culture but defines it. You only have to look at the success of list shows to see how integral iconic programmes are to our sense of history. As we can see the world of media is changing at a rapid pace and nothing will stop the growing love of audience to this sweet life substitution and barely Charls Kignsly and Karl Marks were right: It’s not the religion it is the television which is the opium for peoples and it obviously release their suffering indeed creating a sweet illusion in which re-live.