With streaming services Stan and Presto battling it out for viewers right now, and Netflix getting in on the action at the end of March, chief content officer at SBS, Helen Kellie, says traditional broadcasters need to reinvent themselves.
“We’ve kind of have to reinvent our rulebook and rewrite our rules,” she told the audience at the Broadcasting Digital Media Summit in Sydney. “We need to be a bit agile in how we look at things. In terms of how we commercialise our content, how we fund it, how we market it and how we schedule it.
“I think we have to throw the old rulebook away.”
Jonathan Holmes, former host of Media Watch and media columnist for Fairfax’s The Age moderated the panel, which also included Andrew Maiden, CEO of ASTRA, Elizabeth Ross, CEO of Freeview and Shaun James, director of Presto and video on demand at Foxtel. Holmes suggested the biggest challenge commercial broadcasters are facing at the moment is the fact they can’t get past the disruptive ads.
“With alternatives so easily available, isn’t that the real challenge for commercial free-to-air?” he asked.
Freeview’s Ross doesn’t see ads as a big problem though. She replied: “One reason why there is so much great television on the commercial free-to-air (FTA) networks, that’s clearly reaching 10 times as many people as the highest rating show on pay TV, is because there’s funding coming from advertising. It’s a business.”
The big moments such as sport and reality shows on TV draw a number of viewers for the FTA networks, however Holmes wondered how worried the advertisers are on dwindling numbers.
“10-15% of viewing is time-shifted viewing, so you’re still looking at over 85% of viewing is all viewing live,” replied Ross.
“I think the networks understand there is some resistance to advertising, there’s no question about that. They have to be more clever with the way they position their advertising breaks, they’ve got to be aware of the ‘wear-out’ factor and I think you’ll find, more and more, they’ll become more creative.”
SBS’ Kellie also believed networks shouldn’t become a one-stop shop. Outlining how SBS has a number of commercial and FTA models, Kellie stressed they are giving the consumer content whenever they want it and in whatever format.
She said: “Don’t be too precious about ‘we only do this model’. Audiences cross over these models. So don’t separate them like they’re different worlds, they’re not.
“I stream, and I watch live TV. I bet everybody else here does too.”