It’s not video, but WBEZ /This American Life’s “Serial” podcast came up again during day 2 of the RealScreen Summit. Serial, a radio program spinoff and currently a top podcast on iTunes, probably wouldn’t have reached the mass audience if it weren’t for so-called disruptive web platforms, several panelists said during a Thurs session. For cable, the increasing viewing on secondary platforms and the expansion of web video content means that 5 years from now will include a lot more brand integration and sponsored content, WE tv pres/gm Marc Juris said. And branding for individual channels will matter a lot more—with having an identity imperative, said Kathleen Finch, pres of HGTV/DIY Network & GAC. “Networks that will suffer the most [in an OTT era] are the ones that are all over the place. They will be replaced by companies like Netflix and Hulu,” she said. That doesn’t mean brands should shy away from disruptive platforms. “It’s just one more opportunity to get our content out. We are screwed if we don’t embrace it,” Finch said.
Regardless of delivery platform, “great content creates success,” said Alan Braun, an agent with Creative Artists Agency. An upside: as barriers of entry become lower thanks in part to secondary delivery platforms, content will proliferate. Though it means programmers will have to take risks, “it’s a great time to be content buyers,” Braun said. While Netflix and Amazon have focused on originals in the scripted vain (“House of Cards,” “Transparent”), ALL3Media America chmn Stephen Lambert believes “there will be real money spent on nonscripted by new entrants.”
As for YouTube, often cited as a typical OTT service, social media channels are creating communities around franchise shows. “That sense of community resonates with Gen Y and Gen Z,” YouTube’s core audience, said Ivana Kirkbride, head of unscripted at YouTube Originals (she was a contestant on Season 2 of NBC’s “Apprentice”). Some 50% of viewing on YouTube occurs on mobile devices, leading to significant growth in content uploading on the platform. She noted on average 300 hours of video are uploaded every minute on the platform. While the company seeks to focus on scripted for YouTube original content, it is still looking to expand the unscripted slate. There are many personalities on YouTube, and “we want to help them explore new content formats,” whether it’s comedy, kids and family, or entertainment content, she said. With unscripted, YouTube is looking at franchise opportunities and creating “our versions of the Kardashians and Duck Dynasty.”