Executives from FremantleMedia, Condé Nast, Xbox and Upwave convened at the Realscreen Summit to discuss the success of original content on digital platforms.
The ‘Digital Report Card’ session, held on Monday (January 27), revealed that producers behind these initiatives are still figuring out how to cater content to a digital landscape, which was described by one speaker as being the “Wild West.”
Moderated by Trium Entertainment founder and CEO Mark Koops, the panel consisted of FremantleMedia North America exec VP of digital content Gayle Gilman, Condé Nast Entertainment Group exec VP of programming and content strategy for digital channels Michael Klein, Xbox Entertainment Studios head of unscripted programming Ari Mark, and Upwave exec producer Chris Vivion.
“You still have to do a lot of work to build YouTube audiences,” said Vivion, whose company develops original video for shows such as The Tim Ferris Experiment and Cook Your Ass Off. He added that the best approach is to put content everywhere and let audiences know it’s there.
“The value comes in making as many eyeballs see the content as possible,” he added.
Mark, whose team at Xbox announced an unscripted deal with Lightbox in December, insisted that digital forays necessitate a frontier that was previously inaccessible.
“We can steal from traditional TV and linear TV,” said Mark. “We can throw out the rules and not worry about the clock or format… You’re going to be able to do things that you just can’t do with cable networks. I don’t see a downside.”
Over at Condé Nast, Klein develops filmed entertainment businesses based on the company’s brands, which include GQ, Vanity Fair and Vogue.
“You have to take what makes these brands great and package content,” he said, adding that each brand is very different and audiences for their online channels generally skew a little younger. Ultimately, “any programming led by editorially iconic brands is getting premium audiences,” said Klein.
At FremantleMedia North America, Gilman leads the digital team in creating original content such as online pet destination The Pet Collective and TV project The Crew, which is partnered with StyleHaul.com.
She said that Fremantle has learned how to monetize off of YouTube, which has yielded ample business, but still maintains that “some things should live in TV and some things should live in digital.”