“Not every piece of content is going to work in the AVOD/FAST space” said Shaun Keeble, VP of Digital at Banijay Rights, while speaking on a panel at Connected TV World Summit last month. He argued that, while AVOD and FAST platforms represent an opportunity for incremental revenues, rights holders and service providers need to be aware of the operational challenges and costs associated with launching in that space.
He said: “A lot of people are also starting to realise, for an operational set up of FAST channels, you need a facilitator but you could also need a technology provider to physically connect those FAST channels into the platform. Those come with a real cost when we’re thinking about the scale of opportunity and return on investment.
“Going back to the talent that’s required to launch a FAST channel, you go from commercial negotiations to needing editors, a content operations team to physically deliver the content to a provider, and you need channel managers who are reading the available data to then go ahead and programme those channels.”
Given the costs and operational challenges of launching in the FAST/AVOD space, Keeble argued that content strategy and curation are vital to securing a return on investment. Even for early adopters, if a service’s content strategy does not align with local connected TV market and advertiser requirements, Keeble believes that rights holders will “only get eyeballs and not revenues returned.”
Joining him were David Smyth, CEO of Beyond Rights, Kerense Samanidis, Managing Director of M&E Digital Consulting, and Simon Miller, Managing Director International, Gracenote, Nielsen.
Smyth also believes that the AVOD/FAST space contains tremendous growth opportunities, but “not for everyone and with every piece of content.” He elaborated: “The more that market matures, the more true that becomes. As it matures, the demand for new content spikes, the demand for exclusivity spikes. We begin moving away from deep libraries and towards a space which looks and feels like basic TV.”
Keeble highlighted discoverability as an important part of the success of FAST channels, with the likelihood of being discovered determined by how high a channel sits on the EPG.Miller also emphasised discoverability and spoke about how EPGs have evolved alongside connected TV to include rich imagery as part of content discovery. Speaking about Gracenote, a provider of metadata for content discovery, he said: “We work with a tremendous amount of data in the background The deeper we describe a programme the more prescriptive we can be in personalising what appears in front of somebody.
“If you take Game of Thrones for example, it can be described as adventure. It can also be described as a romance or as an action series.A sophisticated distribution platform will know whether the viewer has previously watched a lot of romantic content, and they’ll present an image for Game of Thrones that throws up more of a romantic angle, as opposed to the next viewer who watches a lot of action, where the content can be presented with a stronger action thread”.
Kerensa believes fierce competition in the D2C space is causing service providers to realise that SVOD will only be a part of their streaming business and that they should seriously consider exploiting and licensing content on AVOD/FAST channels. .
She cited Paramount as an example of a player successfully pursuing a hybrid model. Kerensa said: “What Paramount does so well is using all its different platforms and business models to really support one another. The Paramount channel on Pluto TV really helps drive traffic for its SVOD proposition.”