1st March saw Lumina brave the blizzards to attend BVE at London Excel. Showcasing the future of content creation, innovation and technology, the conference featured a number of excellent seminars from top executives in the media sector.
On the Business of Production stage, leaders from different areas of the theatrical film space discussed the “distribution dilemma” faced by exhibitors in the era of VOD. Specifically, the question was posed as to whether cinemas could continue to co-exist alongside increasingly-popular VOD services.
Cameron Saunders, MD of UK Theatrical at 20th Century Fox, argued that home entertainment has for a long time formed a larger proportion of studios’ business, and that more recent VOD services were simply an extension of this. He used The Greatest Showman as an example of a recent Fox release that performed exceptionally well at cinemas due to the community-nature of the auditorium environment – something home entertainment platforms cannot replicate. And he also highlighted how VOD services and studios can benefit one another, as when Netflix promoted Kingsman on its player in the run-up to Kingsman 2 in cinemas – an outcome in which “everyone’s a winner”.
Phil Clapp, Chief Executive of the UK Cinema Association, agreed but emphasised that exhibitors must continue to up their game in terms of ensuring the cinema experience is top of the range. He mentioned that many cinemas (including major multiplex chains) are actively stripping out seating and reducing their capacity in order to install sofas and reclining seats to create more ‘boutique’ feel to draw in modern audiences.
Elsewhere, Joanna Wells – Digital VP at Viacom’s MTV and Comedy Central brands – spoke to Televisual’s James Bennett about Viacom’s efforts to seize on changing viewing habits across different platforms. She stated that “distribution is your Emperor” and emphasized the importance of creating content that ‘feels right’ for each platform and audience. A common mistake by many broadcasters, she explained, is to create one-size-fits-all digital content and post on every platform. She highlighted that Facebook, for example, is a feed-based platform and realistically they have just milliseconds to grab users’ attention. Snapchat requires a multitude of content within 24 hours, whereas more staggered (but high-quality) content is suitable for Youtube.
The digital landscape in general, she felt, was an effective and cheap breeding ground for new talent and ideas – a medium that allows companies to try things out quickly, and gain viewer feedback immediately. “If you’re going to fail, fail fast” was one of Joanna’s rules of thumb – digital platforms certainly allow for that, but it appears Viacom’s efforts are falling more on the side of success.
In all, another enlightening event, and our thanks go to BVE for another excellent conference.