Top 3 Takeaways from IBC 2019

IBC, one the media and entertainment industry’s marquee events, wrapped yesterday in Amsterdam. Over the course of five days, speakers and exhibitors shared their insights on trends like advertising, personalization, streaming wars and more. Below, we recap the top three trends from IBC.

 

  1. Customers Must Be Center Stage

What if your TV could personalize the content it presents based on whether you looked happy or sad? Broadcasters aren’t quite that far yet (and they may not want to venture there with privacy regulations), but some companies have already started personalizing content based on consumers’ mindsets. In one panel, European broadcaster TV4 explained how they target content based on the time of day, the type of device a consumer is watching content on, and other factors.

Content providers can use real-time data of viewing habits and preferences to engage customers with the right message at the right time. As TV4 explained, when a traveler is packing for a trip, they may not want to engage with a show. But when they have down time at a hotel, they’re more likely to get sucked into a good series that was presented based on their viewing habits.

 

  1. Content Providers Need to Go Direct to Consumers

One of the biggest news items that came out over IBC weekend was Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger stepping down from Apple’s board. Both companies are launching proprietary streaming services (Disney+ and Apple TV+) and are betting on compelling content to woo subscribers. But it remains to be seen whether they can (or want to) catch up with streaming titan Netflix, which has roughly 150 million subscribers worldwide.

Taking a direct-to-consumer approach and offering a proprietary service allows companies to forge closer relationships than they would going through an intermediary. Consider Formula 1—viewers can ride along with their favorite racers instead of watching cars from the outside, and find a payment model that works best for them (limited free access or subscription).

 

  1. Companies Must Keep Customers Tuned In

As mentioned above, Netflix dominates the streaming market, but increased competition may be chipping away at subscriber retention. Netflix lost over 130,000 subscribers in Q2, and while it its content investments are helping it rebound (see  the recent Seinfeld news), Netflix and other media companies will have to look beyond winning subscribers today but keeping them tomorrow.

To maintain growth, streaming companies will need to look to where they can integrate with third parties, as French pay TV company Canal+ just announced with their Netflix bundles. For a set fee, companies can access Canal+, Netflix and HBO content. While Canal+ may miss out on profits in the short term by offering these as a bundle, they could retain more customers by offering a greater selection of content at a more affordable price.

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