Total spend on content will “flatten and slightly decline” this year. This tendency might continue for “at least” the next couple of years, according to Ampere Analysis’ Guy Bisson, a speaker at Monday’s opening panel of the Berlinale Series Market, which runs through Feb. 22.
“We are entering a phase of market maturity in streaming: Growth is difficult to come by. We see it across the globe, most drastically in the U.S.,” he observed.
That said, there is one “lockdown trend” that happened to stick around: Unscripted commissioning rose to match scripted, with streaming commissioning currently focusing ever more at documentary, entertainment and reality.
“The areas that have grown most significantly are all unscripted,” he said. “We will see more lower-cost content and a surge in reality entertainment, which is good for customer retention.”
While there is increasing convergence between streamers and broadcasters, “particularly for unscripted formats,” crime continues to stand tall, interestingly enough reflecting an ageing customer base for streaming.
There is also a growing interest in biographical and historical drama, the latter exemplified by popular “Yellowstone” prequels “1883” and “1923” making it into the top ten of the most globally popular streaming shows in December.
But there is space for fantasy and dark comedy too, with Netflix’s “Wednesday” and Mike White-created, Jennifer Coolidge-perfected satire “The White Lotus” topping Italy and the U.K..
Meanwhile, broadcasters fall back on crime and period drama, with procedural “Soko Linz” emerging as a winner in Germany (also in 2022) and critically acclaimed Western “The English” in the U.K., while action-packed “Peace Force” delighted Spain.
As the focus shifts to Asia –South Korea, Japan, China or India – in terms of commissioning activity the industry’s adoption of advertising-supported models also has broad implications for content production and distribution.
“From the type of content that’s in demand to the competitive environment for traditional broadcasters, through the opportunities for content owners for direct monetization and the reinvigoration of the international licensing and syndication model,” noted Bisson.
“Keeping all this high-value content just to yourself suddenly doesn’t seem that attractive.”
The dramatic rise in AVOD usership can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was stated, as consumers turned towards ad-supported services to supplement their viewing during lockdowns.
Now, in the US, 32% of viewers regularly watch FAST channel platforms, with Latin America also adapting quite quickly.
“We are not seeing FAST take off in every market. It’s still pretty small in Western Europe,” said Bisson, also due to the strength of local BVOD [broadcaster-led video-on-demand] platforms.”
But things might change, and quite soon. “Around half of European homes now say they are willing to watch advertisements if it saves money on their streaming subscriptions.”
At the moment, AVOD/FAST viewers are far more likely to be male, over 35 years old, favoring sci-fi, anime, horror and music.
“If you analyze these interests against the catalogues of AVOD platforms, it suggests they are missing out on some of these key genres. There is a growing opportunity for original commissions from FAST channel platforms.”