Mid-year Survey Delves Into Streaming Content, Emerging Partnerships, Virtual Reality, Agency In-House Production
Respondents provide food for thought, predictions, observations, opinions, creative and business assessments. | A SHOOT STAFF REPORT |
In 2013, Netflix scored 14 Emmy nominations, a tally that rose to 31 in 2014 and 34 this year for such shows as House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Bloodline, andGrace and Frankie. Joining Netflix in the nominees circle from the streaming content arena is Amazon Prime which in this, it’s first year of competition, picked up a dozen nominations, mostly for Transparent.
“People say we are in the Golden Age of Television, but we’re really in the Golden Age of Streaming Content,” observed Leslie Sims, chief creative officer, Y&R New York, in one of her responses to SHOOT’sMid-year Survey.
This evolving TV landscape has sparked new working relationships and business partnerships. Hulu, for example, recently made its first deal to showcase a premium cable channel, offering paying subscribers Showtime programs, including Masters of Sex and Ray Donovan, for an extra $8.99 a month. Conversely Showtime extends its reach while getting its own stand-alone streaming service up and running.
The Hulu-Showtime deal underscores the competition to gain audience, particularly coveted young consumers who are prevalent among those living in the more than 10 million households that pay only for broadband Internet access with no cable package. Hulu is looking to challenge industry leader Netflix.
Similarly Showtime is looking to make its online mark as one of its prime competitors, HBO, this spring launched HBO Now for an additional $14.95 per month on Apple products as well as on Dish Network’s Sling TV service. Verizon too has started its own programming options.
Mobile platforms particularly resonate with the young demographic. Following its recent $48.5 billion purchase of satellite TV company DirecTV, AT&T is reportedly planning several products and new ways to integrate mobile phone and TV services.
Whether it be the AT&T/DirecTV mega deal or the newly struck relationship between Hulu and Showtime, partnerships of all stripes are forming throughout the industry—in entertainment and advertising as the lines between those two worlds blur even further.
“The biggest trend affecting 72andSunny is partnership-driven productions,” shared that agency’s chief production officer Tom Dunlap in SHOOT’s Mid-year Survey. “From collaborating with Vice for Call of Dutyto working with one of the more established MCNs (Multi-channel networks) like Maker Studios for YouTube influencer-driven productions, we are building relationships and systems that allow us to create a meaningful and creative partnership versus just financial transactions. We’re coming to those kinds of relationships with talent, too, as we did with Truth’s social influencer-led ‘Left Swipe Dat.’ We all have skin in the game.”
In one of his Mid-year Survey responses, Ben Davies, head of broadcast production, Droga5, shared, “‘Influencers’ with MCNs are not new trends, but are becoming more prevalent. Agencies are still in their infancy as to how they work with these partners and it will continue to evolve. This trend will definitely develop throughout 2015 and will lead to more exciting partnerships in content creation. More than ever, we are seeing that content is produced to meet the evolution of technology. The creative idea must always take the lead over technology, but I look forward to seeing more content that is interactive in its nature.”
Virtual Reality, evolving relationships
Such interactivity can manifest itself in many ways, one means generating particular buzz being virtual reality (VR). In his survey feedback, Michael Di Girolamo, partner/executive producer, Station Film, noted, “With Hollywood making a big leap into VR, advertising is lockstep with this evolving technology. A recentLA Times article forecast consumer spending at $5 billion-10 billion on VR by 2018, an astounding number. A good example of this is Google Help, a fully immersive live-action VR film from Fast and Furious 6director Justin Lin in collaboration with The Mill. There is no mistaking that entertainment and advertising will come together quickly as VR evolves and the gear becomes more readily available to consumers.”
Relationships are indeed changing among agencies, clients and production companies. Patty Brebner, director of integrated production, Wieden+Kennedy, Portland, Ore., related in one of her survey responses, “It’s not a new thing by any stretch, but for advertisers and agencies, the continued evolution of the Agency of Record model carries significant implications for the future of our business. Production suppliers and entertainment companies are now working directly with clients, and project based agency relationships are becoming more and more the norm. Dynamic engagement with the consumer requires frequently changing expertise outside the agency model of yesterday, and advertisers need more for less and need it quickly. Which requires a less precious, flexible and even more creative approach to production. Agencies, advertisers, entertainment and publishing companies all recognize the need for strategic and tactical partnerships outside of traditional brand advertising, which has brought exciting change to our model of working. Of equal significance is the trend to bring services in house, again to meet demands for faster, cheaper and more. It’s an exciting time, but also full of its challenges for more traditional agency models to keep up.”
The in-house agency dynamic, though, has its detractors. Director Jordan Brady of Superlounge shared in his Mid-year Survey feedback, “I’ve noticed a few ad agencies trying to produce in-house and I think that sucks. Sucks for the client, the creatives and obviously production companies. The conflict of interest and lack of specialization will mean less than award-winning spots. I’m sure it’s great for little demos but quality-wise its lowering the bar.”
For our Mid-year Report Card, SHOOT surveyed varied creative, production and post artisans and execs to gain their observations and assessments of 2015 thus far. Many also shared their views on what may be in store the rest of this year and beyond. SHOOT posed the following questions:
1) What trends, developments or issues would you point to so far in 2015 as being most significant, perhaps carrying implications for the rest of the year and beyond?
2) What work (advertising or entertainment) —your own or others’—has struck a responsive chord with you this year and why?
3) What work (advertising or entertainment) —your own or others’—has struck you as being the most effective strategically and/or creatively in terms of meshing advertising and entertainment?
4) Though gazing into the crystal ball is a tricky proposition, we nonetheless ask you for any forecast you have relative to the creative and/or business climate for the second half of 2015 and beyond.
5) What do recent honors on the awards show circuit (Cannes Lions winners, AICP Show/AICP Next Award honorees, AICE winners or Emmy nominations spanning comedy, drama, documentary, etc.) tell us in terms of creative and/or strategic themes and trends in the industry at large?
6) What new technology, equipment or software will you be investing in later this year or next year for your company or for yourself personally, and why? Or, tell us about what new technology investment you’ve made this year and why it was a good decision – or not?
EVP/managing director integrated production & development, The Martin Agency
1) The maker movement seems to be taking over agencies: more and more are adding in-house production services. In a market like Richmond, we have added capabilities over the years to give people a chance to be on the road less, all while being able to move more quickly to keep up with client needs. I have heard from friends that this is now common at agencies in the bigger production markets as well. I don’t see this totally replacing the traditional production company model, but it is going to take market share, which will have an effect over time on the service level that agencies and clients are used to getting from these production companies.
3) In this day and age, content is virtually at our fingertips. Platforms now exist so that people can watch content when they want, where they want – whether that be their tablet, phone, or computer. Usually, the only price to be paid was being forced to watch part of an ad before getting the chance to hit the SKIP button. The Martin Agency’s GEICO Unskippable work changed the game. These ads were not only packed with hilarious content, but by embracing the media, consumer habits, and frustrations, we were able to get people to do what every preroll ad before it wanted: full viewer engagement, all the way to the end.
5) I was sitting in the Palais on the last night of Cannes, watching the work of the Gold and Grand Prix Lions winners, and found myself laughing only a handful of times. This wasn’t a reflection of the quality of the comedic work that was submitted, it was just that there simply wasn’t as much of it. From Derek Jeter’s tearful farewell, to the slew of women’s empowerment spots, down to the technology being implemented on coasts to protect sharks and Aussie beach-goers, it seems that advertisers and agencies weren’t using comedy as often this year to communicate their messages. I am not sure if this more serious tone will continue in 2015, but I hope to laugh more next year in France.
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