By: Michael Kohn, VP of Platforms & Marketing at ViewLift
Content is useless if it doesn’t reach an audience. Content creators today face the challenging task of navigating a fragmented
distribution landscape. Previously content creators took their work directly to big media companies or distributors who would then take control and write some checks, while the creator could move on to the next project. This is increasingly no longer the case. With the proliferation of viewing devices, greater accessibility to video production and consumers no longer willing to pay for channels they have no interest in, content distribution can be make-or-break.
Below are six distribution trends content creators should pay attention to now.
- Content goes a la carte.
Cable providers have pricing structures based on bundled channel packages. While subscribers have long had the ability to chose different bundles based on price, and to some degree the channels within those bundles, but the choices are very limited. We’ve all ultimately paid for a channel or thirty–too many–that we’ve never watched. Consumers are putting their foot down and beginning to opt into streaming the content they want to view and skipping the rest. Cable companies are taking notice and bundles are slowly becoming ‘skinny’ or ‘unbundled.’ While this sounds great for viewers, it has shaken up the distribution landscape and will likely make it more difficult for smaller players to share their content with the masses.
- Not so traditional distributors.
As cable companies begin to lose their stronghold on distribution, the basic cable channels may no longer be the primary partners to target for content distribution. Rather than taking a pilot directly to a TV network, studios may start tossing the first pitch to Netflix, Hulu and the likes–they certainly have the funds. Studios have long standing relationships and sometimes even corporate affiliations with specific networks, but these same type of relationships will need to align with disruptive players if distributors want to reach new audiences.
- People trust a Guru.
In the age of Apple Music, consumers have come to expect curated content and product suggestions. For video content creators, curated suggestions are a great way to reach audiences who wouldn’t proactively search for their content, but would trust an expert’s opinion. For example, horror fans would be interested in a collection of Stephen King’s favorite scary movies. The right curation will exponentially increase engagement.
- Get geeky with it.
Algorithmic curation helps users find content quickly and easily while helping creators decide how and when to present content. Content distributors are constantly trying to refine algorithms, so what may work today may not work tomorrow. Algorithms will continue to advance beyond simply what content to suggest to improve timing, frequency and other factors that may impact viewing.
- Audience-centric and device agnostic.
There are more devices available today for content distribution. While this is great in terms of reach, the back-end challenges in making content viewable on so many different devices is difficult and often optimizing the viewing experience per device is frequently lost. Unfortunately, the end consumer doesn’t care. They opted into your content and expect your brand experience regardless of the device they’re using.
- Ads are here to stay.
Advertising isn’t going anywhere, but it will need to improve. Currently ads tend to be a major disruption to the viewing experience. They tend to work best in content streams to avoid the creation of additional buffering and switching between players, which is extremely burdensome on mobile devices, especially if the viewer isn’t connected to Wi-Fi. However advertisers lose the interactivity and client side data that makes these devices so intriguing in the first place. In the end, advertising is content and needs to be created and treated as such. The context of when to show a specific creative can be as important to the viewing experience as the audience targeting behind it.
Content creators will forever be facing the relentless challenge of keeping up with the changing times. With the increased fragmentation of viewing devices, video production becoming more integrated, and consumers losing interest in “bundle” contracts, content distribution is becoming a major make-or-break. Paying attention to the distribution landscape, new technology such as algorithmic curation and new advertising creative types can offer a leg up on the competition and keep your brand growing.
Michael Kohn oversees development and operations of device strategy. marketing and ad operations for ViewLift. He manages relationships with every major platform providers including Roku, Sony, Xbox, Playstation, Samsung, Panasonic, LG, Apple, Google and many more, establishing and expanding relationships with advertising providers and assisting with the monetization of display and video ads, as well as increasing streams and revenue on all platforms.
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