Jette Nygaard-Andersen, EVP of Stockholm-based international digital entertainment group Modern Times Group (MTG), was at IBC this year to preach the gospel to conference attendees about the ‘digital-first audience’, and what they could do to attract them back to TV.
Although Nygaard-Andersen’s focus was on so-called ‘Generation Z’, she included the previous generation – known as ‘Millenials’ or ‘Generation Y’ – in the digital-first category. In effect, these two categories include anyone below the age of 37, she said, the only demographic group which effectively grew up with digital technology: together, they currently account for around 48% of the audience. But by 2020, Gen Z alone would represent 40%, she predicted.
“If you look at the consumer behaviour of the Gen Zs in the US, only two percent of them are actually watching cable TV,” she noted. “On the other hand, they watch digital video on YouTube, and they stream from different OTT platforms.” Mostly, their digital video viewing is powered by mobile: “these guys, they spend between six and 11 hours a day with a mobile device.”
After digital video, what Gen Zs consume most is social media, she pointed out. “They are social in every aspect and to make matters worse, they have an attention span of eight seconds, and they are on six devices throughout the day.”
So how can broadcasters grab their attention? Nygaard-Andersen explained that MTG has learnt that they “will spend time on content that they believe brings [them] value.” She defines ‘value-driven’ content as being ‘relevant’ and ‘authentic’, with authenticity being delivered by “brands that share their values”.
One such type of content, MTG has found, is eSports events – live coverage of multiplayer video games played competitively for spectators, typically by professional gamers (‘pro-gamers’). Here, Nygaard-Andersen references a 24-year-old, female Canadian pro-gamer called Sasha Hostyn – one of the few women to reach the top levels of the Starcraft II video-game scene, who has so for won more than $200,000 in prize-money.
Hostyn is a social media ‘influencer’, Nygaard-Andersen points out, with hundreds of thousands of followers – nearly 40,000 on Twitter alone. “Sasha is your new media consumer,” she told delegates: “she’s an influencer, she’s an audience and by the way, she’s also a broadcaster.”
Although influencers have been around for some time, says Nygaard-Andersen, “they have grown in prominence because they own the community. This is really what is driving their activities, so if you’re a prominent influencer, you can earn $300,000 off one social post.” At the receiving-end are ‘super-fans’, heavy brand users who sign up for newsletters, follow the brand on social media, and buy its products.
“Thinking about super fans is important, thinking about communities is important, and really there is no way around including [them] in your content strategy,” Nygaard-Andersen avers.
For MTG, eSports ticks all these boxes. “There are 380 million digital-first audience members out there who watch eSports, who engage with their heroes, who watch their wins, who follow them on the different social media platforms. Last year, the prize money in eSports surpassed $100 million, and it will be much higher this year,” says Nygaard-Andersen, noting that MTG’s most viewed eSports event pulled in 46 million online viewers.
In fact, Modern Times Group is in the process of splitting itself into two separately listed companies, MTG and Nordic Entertainment, specifically to allow the MTG brand to focus on being a ‘pure play’ digital entertainment addressing such digital-first opportunities. Currently, it produces content in eSports, online gaming, as well as digital video for this constituency.
Notably, the ‘new’ MTG would wholly-own Dreamhack, a firm with a focus on interaction and gaming; and would also hold a 74% stake in the world’s leading eSports company, ESL, which operates eSports leagues, organises stadium events and produces content aimed at the eSports community.