DO WE WITNESS THE SLOW BURN OF FAST TV?
The Slow Burn of FAST TV – will the comet pass by or hit earth? Is FAST TV just like a comet: passing by in the distance, shining a brilliant light for a short moment and then vanishing in the dark again?
One could think if speaking to some of the content managers in Europe.
Or – because it has the allure of a comet, many of them might think it will never touch down on earth and they do not pay all the proper attention to it. Just watching it from a distance, marveling at its light, and yet consider it out of this world. However, sometimes a comet has hit the earth and changed its course forever. Maybe FAST TV will hit some of the traditional TV platforms and players like a meteor…
My feeling at this point is that we are witnessing a remake of “Don’t Look Up” within the TV industry when it comes to FAST TV. Some companies decided to ignore it, some claim FAST does not really exist, others play it down and then some will try to counter it with their own “comet” project. But we all need to face reality: FAST is here and will influence our industry – some will feel it to a larger extent than others, and some will need to react now.
FAST TV is at a very early stage but could hit you like a meteor
Yes, I admit: FAST is still in a very early stage of its development in markets outside of the USA. There are plenty of unknown factors and it is certainly difficult to assess its full potential. But my strong conviction is that FAST TV will play a major role in monetizing TV content over the next 3-5 years and you better get ready for that impact now. Otherwise, some other players will harvest the profits mainly: a platform like Pluto TV (which is so aptly and yet deceivingly named after a “dwarf” planet) might become a major force in the market soon and could take on a position that Netflix has in streaming – outshining the competition and making traditional players feel like they ‘live behind the moon’ (as we say in German).
Now enough of planetary and astronomic excursions. I also do not need to read the stars to see what the developments are and how you as a TV industry participant can influence your fate. Let us take a realistic look at the issues and how to address them.
What are the obstacles for FAST TV in Europe and elsewhere?
In my observation of the TV universe, I could distinguish three main pain points when it comes to assessing the potential for FAST TV: Technology, Content, Monetization/Adversiting Sales.
This is the main hurdle for established players like broadcasters, MVNOs, and TV platforms especially when it comes to possible integration with legacy systems. It seems a rather complex issue, that I find hard to penetrate as I am not at all a broadcast engineer. However, I must also say that often I feel that the technology issue is more one of smoke and mirrors instead of a real challenging engineering problem. Firstly, there are a multitude of off-the-shelf technology solutions available in the market that fit every possible need; secondly, you do not necessarily have to integrate your FAST TV offer so deeply into your existing system. A stand-alone or greenfield operation might be the best solution anyways to get you started into FAST. Why not build a complete separate FAST offer independently of your existing systems and content offers?
who would have thought that content is an issue in this matter? But it is indeed. The question is what content should be used for FAST and how it should be programmed. Should you create your own content offers, channels and catalog or should you buy ready-to-broadcast offers? A certain recipe for failure for a FAST project is to assume that you can use your old catalog with Tier C content and make a FAST channel or AVOD service out of it. People will not watch it and you will not sell advertising. Your rocket will not land on the moon.
Other mistake: people think, they know content and apply their old rules of thinking. They assume they can just buy some channels or easily create their own with some bought up content. But FAST TV is a more delicate offer content-wise than you might think. It often works complimentary for some audiences while for others it might be the only TV product they consume. Hence, a carefully programmed and curated FAST product is needed to be successful. Here you should work with professionals who know the ropes of the business and have already established FAST channels successfully: Hint: we can offer such consulting services and have a track-record of working with clients in launching rockets that reach their planet!
Oh gosh, we have to talk about money. After looking at the engineering part and the creative process, one has to ask: how can this all be profitable? Like with any TV project, my first question with new clients is: do you bring money to the table? Because you can only make money in TV when you already have money. Money to invest! So, you need to be willing to invest money into FAST and not try to do it on the cheap. That is, of course, cause for hesitation. Because why should you want to invest money when it is uncertain, how your ROI will be. A valid question naturally – but how much money would you be willing to invest when you might fear that your business goes instinct otherwise? How much money can you make available to explore a yet widely unknown universe where you might find new riches?
I want to explore the monetization issue a bit further because it is symptomatic of the industry and how it missed opportunities in the past: digitalization, apps, streaming, etc; they all are showing examples of lost hopes, of businesses that went extinct like the dinosaurs were erased by a big meteor. Do you want to be the dinosaur?
The discussion about monetization in regard to FAST is often one about potential cannibalization of existing revenue streams: from license fee deals in Pay TV to existing advertising revenue on traditional linear TV channels. Benefices and fiefdoms are at stake. Internal battles across departments might need to be fought. This is all scary and takes courage. An industry that rather has its business model kept in the traditional way and is – as so often when it comes to core revenue streams – utterly conservative in its approach, will likely not even want to start thinking about FAST; less even willing to take risks. But it must be willing to even take baby steps toward such offers. The beauty of FAST is also that it is scalable and can indeed be a very fitting complimentary offer to your existing traditional business. Just look at Netflix which is willing to explore this opportunity. They have a lot to lose obviously but are showing the courage to jump into it.
Fortunately, there are also a lot of solutions in the market that help you with monetization. Technology providers connect you with advertisers. Advertisers will start to look at the FAST market more closely and shift budgets soonest. The initial figures are already proof that CTV is a new way of getting more ad dollars into your business.
Fear is the enemy of progress
I am sorry that I become a bit philosophical now. Given the magnitude of the possible shake-up in the industry through FAST TV it is worthwhile nevertheless to look at our work a bit from a meta-level (and not Metaverse… to which I come though in one of my next newsletters). Honestly, I know from my own experience, that fear is a massive force and can really hold you back in your tracks. It is a gut-wrenching, horrible feeling – and it blocks your mind and creativity. As the saying goes: everything great is on the other side of fear.
There is help to overcome fear: by working with a guide who navigates you through unknown territories. Remember the movie “Don’t Look Up”? It was meant as a reminder that you should listen to the experts and enlist their advice. Fortunately, there are experts that can help you to understand FAST TV and how you can implement it in your business or launch your own offer. While I cannot give you Leonardo di Caprio, I can give you my team of experts and myself as your ‘scientists”. We are as good-looking as Leo actually but have more knowledge about how FAST and the TV industry works than any actor has about climate change (well, maybe with the exception of Lea indeed, who is a great advocate on that matter).
What I want to say: do contact us to discuss how we can help you with overcoming fear and avoiding being a dinosaur. Let us not just wonder about that distant comet on the horizon but work on how you can use its energy to power your business.
Help is only a call or email away.