People are getting excited by the possibility of, for instance, clicking on a dress that somebody’s wearing on a soap opera, then being able to buy it immediately – that sort of coding could be used very well in documentaries. You could have a standard doc, and then click somewhere and get extra information about that element.
Also, new methods of distribution are already starting, like with Facebook, which could do away with the programmer. Public broadcasters will be under considerable pressure as they struggle desperately to find their role as documentary producers realize they can exploit their own material more and more. As producers are being empowered by this, and as distributors realize they can exploit their own back catalog themselves, you start wondering who the hell is going to actually fund documentaries in the future?
Mark Atkin, acquisitions and development, SBS Television
With distribution, whether VOD, streaming or interacting with the media, like in a video game, it’s going to blend – it’s already started. We already have an on-demand service on SVT’s website; most of the programs we produce are available there for 30 days after their TV broadcast. On-demand is going to be huge.
Still, being a public broadcaster, which is all about choosing programs for the license payer, I have to say that people will always want other people to choose content for them. I think public broadcasting will have a new, more important role of finding quality programs and meaningful content.
Mikael Osterby, head of factual, music and arts, program acquisitions, SVT
In 10 years, there’s going to be an even wider gap between really high-concept documentaries versus bringing masses of programs on pay-TV channels or smaller free-tv channels. Broadcasters will spend a lot of money on two or three or five major events per year to really make them high-end, do a lot of marketing, and sell them internationally.
Ralf Rueckauer, project manager, program investments and sales, ZDF Enterprises
I’m not sure about new media. I would describe it as a train that’s going into the future, where nobody knows where it is going or if there is a real paradise, money-wise, but everybody is afraid to miss the train so everybody tries to catch it. It can be a promising future, but it could also be a disaster. Right now, nobody really knows how to earn money there.
Elvira Lind, head of acquisitions and sales, Spiegel TV
In the last few months, I’ve become an addict of YouTube just to see what the young people are doing there, and what they’re doing is paying tribute to reality programming – they take it from their TV set, then change it by making their own video or putting their own commentary on it. So what they’re doing is changing reality, and this is a challenge for broadcasters.
Dr. Helene Maimann, current affairs, ORF
One consideration is ‘What are the new generations interested in?’ They are the leaders of the new technical users, and they’ve grown up with it. I don’t know what sort of content they’re looking for, whether it’s traditional factual content, or new forms of content, or maybe are the formats changing? We’re still thinking in ‘Is it one hour or 3 x 1-hours?’ and that’s going to be the most exciting question.
In a world that’s becoming more diverse, people are looking for trustworthy brands, so branding is getting more and more important.
Fred Burcksen, VP of distribution, merchandising and investments, ZDF Enterprises