Four trends in the TV landscape to tune into this year

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Amanda Turnbull shares her insights into the 2019 TV landscape.

Keeping up with TV culture means tuning into customer demands. The way we create and view TV has completely changed. Thanks to massive advancements in technology and global connectivity, we’re no longer being fed dated programming, but can pick, click, fast-forward, pause and rewind TV content with ease. We’re firmly in control of what we view and we are spoilt for choice.

Amanda Turnbull, vice president and general manager of Discovery in Africa and the Middle East shares the latest media trends she’s watching right now…

The viewer has become the creator and the director – but Linear TV isn’t going anywhere

The past few years have seen a seismic shift in the viewing habits of consumers thanks to the rise of digital streaming platforms, smart TVs and smartphone devices. Audiences now have great freedom in terms of how, when and where they consume their content.

But, despite this disruption, reports show that the TV screen is still the go-to platform for our content viewing experiences – especially in South Africa, where average daily linear viewing time continues to grow, up 10 minutes from 2016 to 2017 (3’03” vs 3’13”)1.

Media companies that will survive this shift are those that can continue to capture people’s attention across all platforms, with cut-through content that meets the needs and demands of their target audience. For us at Discovery, this means optimising the power of our global portfolio to develop compelling specialist offerings, in both the linear and digital direct-to-consumer space, that target passionate fan communities, whether it’s lovers of crime, home, food or turbo content.

Consumers expect brands to stand for something

As the world becomes increasingly more connected, so too does our ability to stay informed about the issues facing our planet. It’s no surprise therefore that there has been a rise in conscious consumerism, as we seek out brands whose purpose resonates with our own values and beliefs.

According to one global survey in 2017, 57% of consumers either bought or boycotted brands based on their corporate values2. Media brands can and should play a role in this emerging trend; as broadcasters, it’s our responsibility to tell the stories that matter to our audiences.

This is what we’ve been doing at Discovery for the past three decades: driven by our curiosity in the world around us, we create content that brings communities together. And, in 2019, our audience will see even more purposeful content from Discovery, including the documentary special Tigerland, which premieres this month on Discovery Channel and forms part of our wider initiative, Project C.A.T. – a joint global campaign with the World Wildlife Fund to double the population of tigers living in the wild by 2022.

Powerful storytelling is everything right now.

With the abundance of viewing services available, and consumers becoming their own content creators, it seems like there is more content being made now than at any other time in history.

However, in this world of market fragmentation, powerful storytelling will always ring through. Globally, we’ve seen an explosion in big-budget scripted dramas which have audiences gripped, but there has also been a rise in the popularity of genres such as true crime, unscripted reality and topical documentaries.

Quality storytelling is part of Discovery’s DNA; it’s at the foundation of everything we do. While we don’t do scripted drama, we do tell the real, un-scripted stories of authentic, relatable characters and nourish fans of enthusiast genres. In Africa, this strategy has helped our networks become leaders in their categories – whether it’s lovers of sticky lifestyle content on TLC, thrill seekers on Discovery Channel, or crime enthusiasts on ID – proving that real-life stories can be just as compelling as a big-name Hollywood production.

Africa loves mobile TV content, and we know it.  

Mobile video is fuelling the fast-paced growth of streaming across all age groups — particularly among Gen Z and Millennials, 21% of whom are spending three hours a day consuming TV shows and video content on their smartphones3.

In Africa, it’s predicted that the number of mobile users is expected to hit over 6oo million by 20254, making it one of the fastest-growing mobile markets globally. Teens and young adults across the globe are prompting all content providers to reassess their business strategies as alternative platforms optimised for smaller screens, and we’re prepared for that disruption.

Globally, we’ve made significant steps forward in our mobile-first strategy, investing in Group Nine Media in the US, for instance, whose digital-first Millennial social video brands Thrillist, Now This, The Dodo and Seeker boast 7 billion monthly video views. In Africa, we have ambitions to reach consumers on every screen, service and format, but the market has its challenges and we can’t do this alone. We believe collaboration with other companies is vital to provide the best service for consumers who now demand a more seamless content discovery experience across all their devices.

1 Source: Eurodata TV Worldwide, One TV Year in the World 2018 Edition

2 Source: Edelman, Earned Brand Study 2017

3 Source: Trifecta Research Group

4 Source: GSMA, The Mobile Economy Sub-Saharan Africa 2018

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