EuroVoD Newsletter - June 2020



LAST WEEK TO APPLY TO THE EUROPEAN VOD MEETINGS!

You have until June 30th to apply online to the workshop that will take place in Venice, from September 1-4, 2020. The session will take this opportunity explore the impacts of covid-19 and different initiatives presented by platforms and services. You can find out more about the training programme and fill out the application form on our website here. A limited number of scholarships are still available! The fees include: tuition, pedagogical tools, accommodation on San Servolo private island, meals, business facilities. Alongside with our partner, San Servolo Servizi, we can ensure the feasibility of the training course in a safe manner. Following COVID-19 safety measures, the campus island is equipped accordingly and ready to welcome guests in their facilities by also providing with hand-sanitizers and assuring extra cleaning for linings and towels. We are also in touch with our partner for the 2nd edition of the Vod Market Day, the Venice Production Bridge, to ensure all safety measures are met. The day-event of public conferences and B2B meetings will be attended by the participants of the training as well film professionals, tech companies, journalists and film institutions.  


EUROVOD @ CANNES - MARCHÉ DU FILM ONLINE


How has COVID-19 affected film, television and VoD in Europe?

Tuesday, June 23rd from 5-6pm (CET), the European Audiovisual Observatory will present the new documentary short on the effects of Covid-19 on the film, television and VoD industries in Europe. For this occasion, they have interviewed major players in these industries, and the projection will be followed by a live chat with them after the film. As a member of the Executive Committee of the Observatory,  EuroVoD participated in the production of the short documentary. The event will be accessible on the Marché du Film online as well as Youtube to follow the film and panel discussion.


Meet the Streamers: Independent Streamers reply to a crisis

June 22nd - The pandemic has impacted all aspects of the film and media industry. However, independent digital initiatives have rapidly bloomed across the world not only to deliver precious films to a stranded audience, but also to support local cinemas, distributors and producers through a range of innovative ideas. Jaume Ripoll, Filmin co-founder and EuroVoD board member, alongside Richard Lorber (Kino Lorber) and Olle Agebro from Draken Film discussed the projects they launched to reply to this emergency, how these initiatives affected their business and relationship with the rest of the industry and what's next for them. You can stream the session on the Marché du Film.


How can Distributors and VOD platforms work together to grow their audiences?

June 24th at 3:30-4:30 (CET) - The session by Gruvi will investigate how to exploit your behavioural audience data (what they "do" is more important than who they "are"), integrate real-time tracking into your platform (a distributor will spend more money if their ads deliver results they can measure), and case studies of audience growth. There will also be a panel of leading industry speakers to Kate Gerova, Marketing & brand Diretor for EuroVoD Member, CURZON, demonstrate how a distributor’s ad spend can buy you new, long-term users. Accessible on Marché du Film online. Gruvi's Audience Project (TAP) is a Creative Europe-funded database collecting behavioral data on cinema-goers taken from the various ad campaigns run by Gruvi. This ever-growing data pool has enabled Gruvi to better target their ads on Facebook, Youtube, Google, etc in each country, exploiting relevant audience behaviours such as their tendency to purchase tickets for certain types of films.


EuroVoD members, Tënk and UniversCiné, to curate special Cannes Docs screenings

French/European doc-only SVOD platform Tënk will offer 100 free 3-month trials to Cannes Docs participants (more information on how to sign up to be announced soon) and will present its subscribers, during the Marché du Film Online, with two films previously showcased at Cannes Docs as docs-in-progress: Ibrahim: A Fate to Define, by Lina Al Abed (2019) and In Mansourah, You Separated Us, by Dorothée-Myriam Kellou (2019).

UniversCiné, French VoD publisher and aggregator specializing in independent cinema, will offer to French territory viewers a special mini retrospective of all the documentaries having received the Œil d’or - Documentary Award in Cannes since 2015.


NEWSLETTER / COVID-19

This month's newsletter, curated by Michael Gubbins (SampoMedia), comes as the lockdown eases across Europe. Cinemas are beginning to reopen but the acid test will be whether audiences will return at anything approaching the pre-coronavirus levels. Meanwhile, industry is adjusting to testing changes in practice, highlighted by the first online Cannes Film Festival and Marche Du Film.


The rapid advance of European independent VoD services has continued to grow throughout the lockdown, as early experimentation and innovation has yielded results. A EuroVoD survey is now underway which will inform a major report on the rapid evolution of the sector and lessons that will help inform future developments. What has emerged from the case studies, interviews and research so far points to the potential for a new ecosystem, which balances the strengths of cinema with the realities of audience demand. The evidence suggests that VoD has proven, for example, that it can deliver real cultural diversity, encouraging audiences to explore European content in ways that traditional releases cannot. Platforms have built relationships with festivals, distributors, producers, and indeed cinemas that promise much as the sector gets back on its feet. Perhaps most of all an entrepreneurial, innovative and ambitious VoD sector is pointing towards a positive future at a time of economic downturn and consumer uncertainty. Analysts are now consistently predicting a VoD bounce from the lockdown that will translate into sustainable business over the longer term. Rethink Technology Research estimates that subscription services saw an average of an 8.7% increase in subscriber numbers and a 7.9% lift in revenues. The research has lifted its market predictions, suggesting more sustained growth up to 2025. The Nordic region has been particularly strong, according to reports, with rapid growth in both subscription and transactional VoD. Claims of a New Normal are generally based on the optimistic belief that short-term growth will translate into long-term trends. A series of Zoom workshops, hosted by UniFrance, has been bringing together a variety of European industry players to look at ‘new realities’ and the overall conclusions have been that much of what has been experience during the corona-virus period has exposed, accentuated and accelerated existing consumer and market trends. A common theme in those workshops with sales and distribution, public institutions and those involved in innovative schemes for distribution and audience development created during the virus is that the lockdown has been a chance for experimentation that may help build an ecosystem that brings together on-demand platforms and physical exhibition. There is a general sense of opportunity in Europe that requires imagination and flexibility in business practice and policy. Some genres may be particularly well placed for a major shift towards on-demand. Animation has been an area of particularly strong growth online with a growing sense that it could lead a major shift in the industrial ecosystem. The Covid crisis may have given those moves fresh momentum, given that animation production was less damaged by the production shutdown of recent months. There has also been much innovation in the market too. Jungle Beat, a South African- competition entry for the digital version of the prestigious Annecy Festival launched an online premiere, which it called “Planet Earth’s first global movie night.” The animated feature, which had been scheduled for theatrical release before lockdown was given an entirely new strategy, including working with online “influencers” on marketing. Documentary also looks to be emerging as a major beneficiary of streaming growth. In both cases, Europe can be make significant global gains.


A NEW NORMAL?


As ever, the attention of the media has been on the streaming giants, fighting it out for global dominance. And the lockdown may prove to have been a huge bonus one of those players in the new Disney + service. Disney was always expected to provide a serious competitor to leaders such as Netflix, Amazon and HBO in Europe but with a captive family audience, it has made big gains, claiming already to be the third biggest streaming service in the UK. The battle for dominance among the mainstream US services is being fought on a number of fronts, including content and pricing. Concerns have been raised by leading figures in the film industry about the cultural power being accumulated by US streamers with a call for greater regulation and a stronger levy on earnings. The clash of the media Titans for dominance of the mainstream is being seen as an opportunity by much of the European independent VoD sector.   The coming EuroVoD report will show how appetites noticeably shifted during the lockdown period. Some commentators have also noticed promising signs for more intelligent content more focused on real lives than blockbuster fantasies. It is not clear of course how far these tastes will remain with the return to work. If there is a greater appetite for the art-house and human drama, there is no shortage of content available, which is creating a headache for traditional theatrical release. Manuel Chiche, founder of French distributor The Jokers Films has pointed to “a maelstrom of content that the audience has difficulty navigating, which will be a key issue for years to come.” The EuroVoD report will show hope that navigation is fast becoming a core skill of VoD platforms. But service providers are suggesting that what is needed is an ecosystem of sales, distribution and innovative marketing to exploit the potential of Europe’s talent. The report will suggest that you cannot have European diversity in a retrenching and conservative market. Audiences may be ahead of the game. There are promising signs that consumers are happy to ‘stack’ subscriptions, with a range of different platforms and packages. A report from the British Audience Research Board (BARB) suggests that more than half of UK households now take at least one service, and 42% take more than one service. It concludes that consumers are interested in a range of subscriptions. But retaining that momentum will be a challenge with evidence emerging that subscribers frequently switch or ‘churn’ services to which they subscribe. Research in the Nordic region has suggested that in a competitive market, retaining audience loyalty will be a growing issue for independent services.


FREE CONTENT


Among the predicted growth areas before the lockdown was AVOD – advertising-led free content but the Covid crisis has not been good for the advertising market. Some analysts are now suggesting AVOD may take a long time to bounce back, mainly as a result of reduced marketing spending in a severe economic downturn. Others see more reasons for optimism for a fast-track reemergence of the market. Firstly, there may be a consumer backlash against spending on a widening field of subscription services. There has been some research that suggests limits to what people will pay and some have made the case for growth in AVOD/FVOD free and advertising-led services. That may be particularly the case where services have tempted consumers with free content. Secondly, money may be redirected to AVOD from more expensive linear broadcasting. Most predictions need to be treated with some caution, as they come from the US, where VOD is far more established than in European territories. There are large investments being made in Europe, including the roll out of a continent-wide AVOD service from Rakuten. It will be a challenging market and one made more difficult by piracy. Inevitably, criminals have taken advantage of the lockdown with the growth in piracy mirroring the success of legitimate on-demand platforms. Police and legal action against pirate services has tried to block some of the worst excesses. A concerted international coalition managed to shut down a Spanish IPTV piracy ring in June 2020. In the UK, the `amount of piracy trebled since the start of the lockdown. Another consideration for SVOD services is that a potentially significant percentage of people are viewing SVOD services through borrowing passwords from friends, rather than subscribing themselves. Research is limited and is tricky because password sharing is normally permitted with a household but a study suggests that around 16.5 million people in the US may be borrowing or stealing passwords illegally.

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