What can brands learn from the changing television landscape?

There’s never been a more exciting time for television with audiences consuming more content than ever. Appetite for great content is fierce – audiences don’t have to watch mediocre shows anymore. However, with the sheer quantity of platforms and choice now available, audience viewing habits are of course unpredictable and consumers have taken command. As an industry, and as a content producer, I actually believe we’ve all never had it so good, but what does this changing landscape really look like and what does this mean for brands?

I have the privilege of heading up Endemol Shine Group’s Commercial Partnerships division, so I am at the heart of more than 100 TV production companies from over 20 markets around the world. For us, television is the content we produce, not the device which it is viewed on. We are dedicated to creating great content, wherever our audiences are and whenever they want to view it.

The explosion in the number of distribution platforms, from Netflix to GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon) and many more, is creating endless opportunities for viewers to access an increasingly diverse wealth of content. For us, these are complementary to, not instead of traditional TV viewership which continues to hold up.

New platforms enable new audiences to discover for the first time classic and evergreen entertainment. Our very own Mr Bean is seeing significant growth on Facebook and now boasts an incredible 77 million fans - that’s bigger than Taylor Swift! And we are seeing this trend across the industry with the continued popularity of timeless programmes such as Friends and Seinfeld on OTT platforms.

Of course competition for viewers is at an all-time high, driving up the quality of new content and giving rise to a generation of new talent. The creative freedom and opportunity to explore new ways of storytelling is greater than ever before.

But what does all this disruption and change in the television landscape mean for brands?

The rich audience insight from some of the new wave of platforms means branded content can be distributed to an advertiser’s target audience much more effectively, locally and globally. Coupled with a truly engaging narrative, this is a potent mix.

As TV/content makers, we know how to emotionally connect with audiences through storytelling on a global scale and although editorial control and credibility is still sacrosanct, where there is a natural fit between narrative and brand there are genuine opportunities open to advertisers.

We found this when staging the recent documentary series The South Pole Energy Challenge. We followed polar explorer Robert Swan OBE and his son Barney as they embarked on their attempt to trek to the South Pole, powered solely by biofuels and renewable energy sources. Very much a documentary for the digital age. We filmed and produced the series for energy giant Shell’s social media channels, shot for mobile and edited to fit the user experience on each platform.

With more platforms commissioning content than ever, brands are able to play a much bigger role in the television space. Be it through full or part-funded programming, product placement and integrations, through-the-line IP licensing, TV talent and celebrity endorsement, second screen gaming and apps, the list goes on. It feels like we are at the cusp of a seismic shift, the opportunities continue to open up and we are committed to uncovering new ways to bring brands into the mix. Storytellers and brands have everything to play for.

What makes Endemol Shine Group’s perspective unique is an inherent understanding of television and distribution. We can seamlessly integrate a brand into content that doesn’t compromise the finished product, and if there isn’t an existing programme format that fits in with an advertiser’s positioning we have the best talent to develop one that does.

Great content has the power to connect emotionally with huge audiences through culturally relevant storytelling. In this brave new world, the collaboration between brands and television could mark a tipping point for the advertising sector. Not so much branded content, but branded culture.

James Hayr, Head of Global Sales, Endemol Shine Group

Tel: 0870 333 1700

Email: james.hayr@endemolshine.com

Twitter: @endemolshine