CFP Fall 2013 Plenary Canadian Telecom and Media


CFP Fall 2013 Plenary Canadian Telecom and Media

Ana Serrano, CFC: This video, put out by the CRTC (Canada’s equivalent to the FCC here in the U.S.) recognizes and encourages consumers to be creators. The Canadian government is more consumer friendly than ever before and looking to change regulatory frameworks with them in mind. The private sector companies have bought and sold themselves, and the dollars for investment are not forthcoming. We now have a conservative government. That’s the nature of the telecom environment for media in Canada. Tessa Sproule, CBC: There are huge cultural shifts at the CBC that are challenging and uncomfortable, but they are also awesome and amazing. Creative talent doesn’t need us as a distribution channel anymore, they have YouTube, so how do we retain our relevancy? We’re a classic public bc background, radio and TV (1936 and 1952). Digital started around 1996. About half of our funding is from the government the rest through ads, sponsorship, other. Our content is produced internally with independent producers. We’re starting to see more independent producers looking to other distribution channels. Canada is hitting above its weight class in terms of YouTube producers. How do we access talent and work with them? As the director of digital much of what I do is pass the KoolAid around. I make it not so scary and facilitate collaborations. Digital initially was something we “bolted on.” We had a separate digital division. But those divisions, and my job should go away. We are just starting to understand digital tools and what they can add to the story. We take an ecosystem approach to commissioning, developing, producing and distributing content. The producer cares about digital. The producer knows they aren’t just making a TV show but an experience for the audience, and that approach passes down through the entire production (both radio and tv). From content windowing (a linear view) to the “content map.” We are exploring how to leverage every ounce of effort around a piece of content. That’s our challenge – getting our content discovered and then maintaining that attention. It only works if everybody in the organization cares about and everyone recognizes every node on the map. Caitlin O’Donavan, Corus Entertainment: In the same way that TV imitated radio, we’ve spent the last decade using new technology to simply imitate TV. But the question is, how does technology contribute to the story? We are taking an ecoystem approach, which means leveraging every piece of content throughout the ecosystem. My job is to make money from digital initiatives, where are the opportunities? How do we react? New media consumption both helped and hindered by Canadian regulation of culture. We are protected against US media so there are lots of definitions and regulations re Canadian content (in terms of budgets and hours). Protectionism has also created some disadvantages when competing in the digital world. The Internet is unregulated, so Netflix for example does not have to comply. Our audience is changing—tune-in is in decline for key demographics due to increased fragmentation. They are watching Netflix, playing games, etc. and increasingly so on mobile devices. Netflix in the last 2 years has become a very important player in Canada. Re content is king – although a disputed notion, for us, its important that we own an animation studio, 2 nd largest in North America after Disney. We have full ownership and control around the world.

What are the opportunities? What’s the Internet for? What’s our approach to monetization?  Digital-first brands to test audiences—using shorts and a strong digital campaign to test audience interest in a brand before developing a TV series  Hot Housing product and marketing strategies in Canada before launching internationally with key partners (Canada as test market) o Product strategies (pricing, promotion, game balancing) can be ironed out in 1 territory   before key market distribution like the US and UK Owning the relationship with the audience o Canada is catching up to US and UK models where broadcasters manage channel apps and users can authenticate into their MSO o During 2014 multiple MSO authentication will likely be available, resulting in the growth of video TV-Everywhere options in Canada Analytics drives the content and product strategy o The content offering and available platforms change based on how kids watch or play o the games. Compiling provider data and analyzing results has been a challenge It has required changing our team culture from manufacturing to servicing from product publishing to product iteration Ana Serrano, CFC: Both Corus and CBC are sponsors of the CFC, and how they decide to move into the future is important to us because we provide the talent that flows through their production and distribution systems. We have developed many projects that have been distributed throughout the world in a variety of digital formats (e.g., gaming, film, television, multimedia, etc.) We have produced a plethora of production companies. We are supported by all industry players in the country. We have leveraged public sector dollars with private sector monies at a 3 to 1 ration. By mandate, any purchasing or M & A within the private sector must provide public sector dollars for the social good. We have smartly represented ourselves as one of the key recipients of that social good. So, for example, when Bell Media would buy another company, that would generate 100s of millions of dollars which then gets divvied up across non-profits. But as a result of consolidation, and the number of private sector companies down to about 3, those private dollars aren’t’ forthcoming. Secondly, we have a conservative gov’t pushing for a more consumer focused lens because there’s an election coming up, so they’re starting to deregulate a number of things – unbundling cable channels or roaming rates set by oligopoly telcos, etc. Not only do we have to think about content in this space, but how to PAY for that content. Our challenge is how to create a new market space through differentiation and low cost. We seek to do that through value innovation – a framework for how producers to rethink what content might mean in the next 5-10 years. 1.

Value innovation through niche markets, globally. YouTube examples. AsapSCIENCE—a model for 2 content creators who in only 6 months when from 10,000 to a million subscribers. What do we think about these new producers/creators and broadcasters? These are a new set of creators. 25 years ago we were dealing with filmmakers, TV writers and editors. Now, the YouTube content creator is a 2.

talent segment that we are very interested in them. We need to think about the value they are creating. Value innovation by closing the immersion loop: Immersion is only one part of the participating loop. Full blown immersion that involves participation. Our alumni are creating platforms for expanding immersion. E.g., Instaradio, looking at real time broadcasting of audio anywhere – being used in journalism/breaking news. These are media makers who are influencing how the platform evolves as they create content. Over the Rainbow—CBC—like wordpress for second-screen apps. We now have traditional media companies who are rethinking the notion of participation, not just at the viewing end but at the ideation stage. [NK: value creating processes]. Designed a series of processes for


participation in the ideation stage. Where participation should take place, on what platforms, do we need new platforms to connect audiences and creators or are current ones sufficient (like Google plus, Facebook, etc.) Value innovation through material means: screen based content is not the most important piece of the product; it’s the ancillary product. We know that already in television through merchandizing, but now creators are anticipating that well in advance. Eg., Ramen party – a transmedia children’s property based on the ingredients of Ramen. There’s a Plush toy element, an iPad app… As part of our audience engagement and production process strategy was to we created a simulation marketplace with parents and kids to see what kinds of products they would buy within this IP branded property. Given fake money and a suite of objects to purchase, e.g., the plush toy vs the coloring book vs the iPad app. The results impacted how the company planned to roll out its products. Filmmakers did not think about this years ago. Maybe the producers did but today it’s a crucial part of the training and thinking for filmmakers, etc. Another project: producing with David Cronenberg. The with Digital extension experience – associated with a physical exhibition of his work. First time we’ve said the virtual experience—interactive participative -- that we want users to go through would develop a series of data points that would then generate a physical object that would represent their experience, personalized to what they did during that experience. Driven by the ubiquity of 3D printers and the fact that the physical object is where value sometimes sits with 4.

these kinds of entertainment properties – we wanted to see what would happen if we generated these things – yup, people want the objects and don’t always want to play the game. We’re still looking at this. Value innovation by colonizing space: now most of the savviest storytellers are less interested in the screen, and real time and space. Working with Mind Pirate for developers for Google glass and other wearables – that’s an area that’s open for a lot of interesting storied experiences. Also, Oculus Rift – less of a gaming environment and more of finally getting high HD moving image layers within a 3D environment. So what’s really happening – because of the infrastructure we’re aware of, and because of the wireless infrastructure and behaviors of audiences are all in step – creators are far far ahead and in the midst of producing these future visions today. They will build it with our without your infrastructure (wireless?) Storytelling 3.0 (I apologize for that!) – the audience is medium, creator in the middle… 360 content creator thinks like this. Karen Sollins, MIT: early days of Web, a community of authors thought through the process of writing for the new non-linear environment. That kind of model is different than uploading a YouTube video and commenting. Ana Serrano, CFC: I would argue that YouTube is not non-linear. I know what you mean by choosing your own flow of an individual story, but the comments are crucial to determining the flow of episodes. And I would say that the most successful examples of interactivity so far have to do with this level of flow. Caitlan Donovan, Corus: Broadcasters are experimenting with this. Nickelodeon for example created a series of “appisodes” – the episode follows a linear narrative, but has inserted interactive moments seamlessly. It’s changing how they’re creating a TV episode, they know it’s going to be split up in different ways including for distribution on Netflix (no commercials) or on interactive platforms like an app. Sheau Ng, NBC: that’s consistent with what’s happening in our world at NBC but I’m wondering if you may be more on the avant garde side of experimentation – have you started looking at more sophisticated second screen apps, i.e., not just a second screen quiz show for example, but a truly multiscreen storytelling experience where the story itself is built using multiple screens? For example, there was a movie released in Holland, called App, that incorporated smartphones into the experience, in

the theater. “The film’s soundtrack contains a digital audio “watermark” – inaudible to human hearing – that causes exclusive supplemental content to appear on smartphones running the APP app.” Tessa Sproule, CBC: We don’t have enough money to develop something that fully that is unproven, we have to justify what we’re doing with what already exists. But one of the things we are doing in terms of having the audience inserting themselves into the story – live unscripted event space. Scripted TV is hard, but we can do it with live event sports or reality TV. E.g., Facebook just released an API that allows you to pull from their feed, how many people are talking about the men’s final hockey game – pull visual representation of that, and then put it on the screen, not like tweets, but into the space of the show. We’re experimenting right now – putting former NHL players with Olympic skaters, and they have to learn how to ice dance. It’s competitive, charity show – the audience gets hyper, they get crazy about their pairs – could be the charity they’re connecting with, or it could be the NHL players. It’s shot live, it’s hard to feel the energy that’s going on in the online world in the physical arena where the event is taking place. We’re taking the Facebook feed and putting it on the monitors in the arena, mostly people holding up placards, but it could get more sophisticated. But the important thing here is that we’re putting it into the story space (vs tweets). That could get really powerful. Think about the Arab Spring example – they weren’t even there, but they made the audience feel connected to the experience happening a world away, without any cameras. So, yes, we are trying things, but in a very focused way, and looking at how the audience is responding. Ana Serrano, CFC: Given the Canadian context of funding, what tends to happen is that innovation is sharply focused and typically driven by the story and audience behavior vs driven by technological advancement. That has had pros and cons in terms of experimentation, but that’s our experience. Natalie Klym, MIT: Comment: listening to Tessa and Caitlan, it reminded me of the early 90s when Ana and I were working for an “e-business” consulting company. Everything was “e” this and “e” that and eventually it went back to just being “business” strategy. It sounds like you’re at that stage right now in your organizations; digital strategy will just become strategy. Question to Ana: Re “value innovation,” were you saying you’re trying to innovate in the area of low budget programming? Ana Serrano, CFC: Yes. Value innovation is about low cost and differentiation – looking closely at productions that are leas costly but have a high impact. Sometimes that framing is related to the notion of going after a niche audience or market, regardless of whether you’re drama or unscripted. Natalie Klym, MIT: How does the low-budget strategy reconcile or relate to the opposite direction of high-cost stuff like 3D, IMAX? It seems innovation is going in various, often extremely different directions. Ana Serrano, CFC : I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive. It depends on what kind of a producer you want to be. Do you want to make 6 figures for the rest of your life? Or do you want to build a company that generates tens of millions of dollars a year? We’re finding that those 6-figure producers, which we used to regard as “freelancers” in the past are becoming micro-MSEs that have an impact on the entertainment economy. Tessa Sproule, CBC: If you look at something like ASAPScience, that producer is taking market share from traditional broadcasters, but he’s a great storyteller and I want to work with people like that. Audience: Hotel Rowanda is a great example of a movie that had no uptake until it went onto Netflix and then it went viral because people watched it and then told their friends. Caitlan O’Donavan, Corus: That’s a .. in the gaming space, your production to marketing dollars are one –t one. But – it’s hard to get audiences – it does come backto marketing

Ana – but that’s where the niche play is interesting, because if you know every single person in a market category, e.g., everyone who loves leather, or classical music, and you know where to find them, then the 1:1 marketing/production dollars ration changes slightly. Caitlan O’Donavan, Corus: But this is the challenge for bc television – mass media changing to niche media – if you’re a niche player, your pie is already smaller, ideally you can go deep on that, but that’s the risk.