MIPCOM 2022 – "the global market for entertainment content across all platforms" – took place in Cannes last week. Here are the key takeaways from the keynote presentations and panels.

FAST and AVOD were hot topics

  • FAST and AVOD unsurprisingly assumed the lion's share of the focus at MIPCOM 2022.
  • Not long ago, FAST executives struggled to find content for their channels. Now, however, distributors face fierce competition getting their content onto big providers like Pluto, Xumo, and Tubi.
  • By 2025, the US FAST market will hit a projected $6.1 billion. International companies looking at the US are realizing they can replicate this growth in other markets (Variety).

Growth in the number of providers leads to competition

  • There are now 5+ FAST platforms in the US with around 300 channels and one with over 440 channels. That means a lot of choices for consumers and a lot of competition for channel owners. 
  • The pie is growing, but so are the options for viewers. Fragmentation threatens discoverability: compared to a year ago, channel owners now need outsized marketing spend to ensure visibility and a healthy slice of the audience. 
  • Analysts expect this trend to continue with the launch of niche platforms for specific genres such as horror or kids and as existing super streamers continue expanding channel offerings.  
  • These factors are driving channel owners to consider opportunities to launch outside the US, where there is less competition, and they can be channel 20 instead of 220.
When a platform breaks through a certain user threshold, volume considerations seem more important than sourcing premium content. I’m not saying quality is discarded, but to continue growing a user base by 10s of millions, you need to tap into niche communities which might have different demands than the average user. Yes, a blockbuster title can temporarily lure users, but volume and diversity of content helps retain them. – Jesse Sheman, Co-founder and CEO at Papercup

FAST operators look to Europe for growth

  • Big FAST operators are looking to Europe for growth.
  • Gavin Bridge, who moderated some panel discussions at MIPCOM, highlighted the significantly cheaper distribution costs for FAST in Europe compared with terrestrial TV in his Variety roundup
  • However, European markets pose different challenges to those found in the US. In the UK, for example, viewers remain more familiar with and engaged with terrestrial TV than their US counterparts.
Statista: UK viewing figures for most watched TV program each year (millions). In 2020, UK consumers spent roughly 2.5x longer watching TV than SVOD.

Localization emerges as the key to expansion

  • To cater to an international audience, content owners must consider the most efficient ways to localize their content. 
  • There was much discussion about localization. Inflated costs due to studio dubbing were a particular concern. 
  • Innovations such as AI dubbing were posited as solutions to help distributors navigate risk.
  • AI dubbing is firmly on content owners’ radars as a scalable way to localize content. It costs a fraction of studio dubbing and can be turned around in days rather than months.

Rising costs will affect the TV industry generally

  • A keynote speech from Fremantle COO Andrea Scrosati anticipated rising costs would significantly impact the TV industry. 
  • Bottom-line thinking means focusing on what Lisa Kramer, President of International TV licensing at Paramount Global Content Distribution, calls a “shared window approach”(Hollywood Reporter). Studios plan to let series move between broadcasters and platforms (e.g., distributing first on SVOD and then FAST or terrestrial) to maximize content revenue.
  • Content owners engaging with innovative ways to grow revenue - such as making back catalog content available for global audiences like Cinedigm - will be best positioned to weather the bumpy economic climate. 
Statista: Video revenue in the US by segment, 2019-2022

Programming is becoming more sophisticated

  • Programming is becoming more sophisticated, with services like Pluto, FreeVee, and Roku looking to increase the amount of first-run content to attract and retain viewers. 
  • FAST services are considering producing original content and creating destination channels with recognizable content. 
  • Banijay, for example, is launching its own FAST channels on Samsung TV Plus UK and LG (Horizons: Powered by Banijay). 

Measuring success remains a question mark

  • In the increasingly fragmented TV industry, how to measure success remains a hot topic of discussion. 
  • As traditional rating models become obsolete, there is still a question mark on how to measure who is watching. 
  • The continued strength of FAST and AVOD will set the pace for developments in TV attribution.
"It's clear that FAST was a huge focus at MIPCOM, but from my conversations it was also clear how competitive the space is becoming. Channel owners are thinking creatively about how to ride the FAST wave, and many spoke about launching outside the US first, as a way to gain favor with the gatekeepers at the big platforms and unlock access to the US audiences. So, being able to open their eyes to AI dubbing and watch their reactions to our synthetic voices on content just like theirs felt like being in the right place at the right time." - Garrett Goodman, VP of Sales at Papercup