Servicing the growing number of platforms serving content to audiences across multiple screens is challenging the creation and distribution process, according to a panel of senior TV executives. 

Factual festival

Factual Festival: Panelists debating engaging audiences across multi-platforms

Experts dissected the future of TV and discussed the new opportunities in today’s media landscape during the Televisual Factual Festival conference in London last week.

Exploring the transformative broadcasting environment, it was resoundingly agreed that audiences and the fast-evolving technology are the catalysts for change.  

”Google and Facebook are really important, but they’re not paying money to be a news service” - Dorothy Byrne

Channel 4 Head of News and Current Affairs Dorothy Byrne told delegates the issue of fake news is directly impacting the audience’s confidence in journalism today and as a result undermining democracy.

She said: “It is really important we do not let them undermine the public trust in the truth of good journalism because you can’t have a proper progressive democracy without the content we all make.”

Byrne explained that just because fake news has surfaced does not mean you can’t believe anything you see and hear in the media.

Channel 4 is concentrating on engaging a younger audience with its content offerings and social platform strategy.  

Byrne said: “Google and Facebook are really important, but they’re not paying money to be a news service.”

Channel 4 is utilising the multi-platform approach and creating content suitable for the specific platform and audience is the key to successful content creation and campaigning Byrne explained.  

Fremantle Media UK Head of Digital, Kat Hebden said: “There has never been a better time to be an original digital producer.” 

She explained how important audiences of all ages are for broadcasters. The average TV viewer is over 60 while younger viewers favour digital platforms hosting original content.

”Digital platforms allow a clearer sense of authenticity” - Kate Hebden 

Knowing who your audience is, where they are and how they are going to engage with your programme allows you to know where is best to air content and how to effectively engage with your targetted audience, she said.

”Digital platforms allow a clearer sense of authenticity; we pitch straight to our audiences,” Hebden said.    

Facebook’s Head of Entertainment Media Partnerships EMEA Glenn Miller told delegates the generational differences means content needs to be diversified for different interests so audiences can find the niche that speaks to them.

Technological change and instability of institutions have led to transformational content offerings. However, “everyone still wants to be part of a community,” Miller said.

”Generations today have never not know multi-platforms, so engaging with audiences across different platforms is essential.”

Today, content must fight for the audience’s attention.

Capturing attention 

Woodcut Media Creative Director, Derren Lawford explained, there are lots of ways to get people’s attention and a lot of time to do so. The challenge is capturing the attention of audiences and engaging them immediately.

Lawford said: ”One of the biggest challenges is asking yourself why you want online success and how you’re going to get it.

“Our approach to try and get onto Netflix is constant experimentation and risk-taking. There are lots of people chasing the same money, it’s an opaque process and it’s a risk. There is no guarantee Netflix will buy it.”

Working out how to drive audiences on small budgets across nascent platforms is a challenge, the technology is fast evolving yet one thing is certain “audiences are the future,” Hebden said. 

”How do you tell your story through the different technologies and the different product offerings” - Glenn Miller 

Miller added: “If you don’t grab people in the first three seconds they’re not going to watch. The traditional way of producing does not work anymore.”

“The platforms are evolving fast and updating quickly,” Miller explained.

He said audiences don’t care if [content] being made cheaper and has lower production values. “They want everything in a controlled space, there has to be strategy and a business model behind it.” 

Vice UK Digital Programming Executive, Eloise King explained generations X, Y and Z have a diverse appetite for content, and as such the content offerings need to be diverse.

Vice UK operates in a broad ecosystem, its ethos is digital first but to engage across social and mobile. And it recently launched a linear channel

King said: “There is a closer relationship between content production and consumption; we are connecting a global audience.

”We are looking for stories and at the heartland of the business is strong storytelling. Today’s filmmaking challenge and the exciting opportunity is the diverse and connected audience appetite.”  

Miller explained the importance of having more diversified content offerings and establishing the niche that speaks to the targeted audience and their interests. 

”Audiences want to be part of a community and they’re willing to invest, which is having an impact in the real world on how content is created; general interest pieces are no longer enough.

”Creating content isn’t enough. How do you tell your story through the different technologies and the different product offerings? It’s a privilege someone will stop and watch your content. How do you take advantage of that?” Miller said.