MIPTV, MIPFormats and MIP Digital – a reflection

Things seemed a bit quieter this time around. Where there’s usually a throng of busy TV industry people, elbows being of better use than feet for propelling oneself forward, this time there was ample space almost everywhere.

On the other hand the new incentives from the MIP-organizers – the MIP Cube and the MIP Digital content – did their part to make sure that the ones who actually was there were, for once, on the cutting edge of what’s happening content-wise in the world of entertainment and audience engagement today.

That was probably the buzzword number one this spring – ”audience engagement” – and as with most buzzwords it has a desperately important message at its core. The audience – and especially the young audience – has found its own path long ago, quite separate from the wishes and carefully laid plans of the traditional TV industry, and the ones benefitting the most at the moment are the ones who, like traveling medieval salesmen, have managed to put up shop – release content – at the water holes of these new tribes. These oases don’t go by the names of Ubari or Chebika, they go by the names of YouTube, Vimeo, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine… you name it.

While today’s broadcasters are still holed up in their supermarkets of content, the audience have found new roads to travel, new routes to explore, funnier company at other places and better prices as well. There’s nothing saying that the broadcasters can’t jump in on the trend – or that they don’t try to already – but it’s a tough ask to have them close their supermarkets as the elderly and traditional still come to shop there and still bring them a considerable profit. On the other hand, as this demographic slowly dwindles, there’s precious little coaxing the younger ones to return to supermarket shopping, not when they’ve gotten used to something else, somewhere else.

I sometimes despair, thinking that the TV industry will not ”get it” before it’s too late. As I see a hybrid of the TV an the online industries as the optimal solution – as there’s money and skill in abundance in the TV industry and entrepreneurship and talent in abundance online – I’m seeing encouraging signs that everything is moving together, albeit slowly. If it’ll be quick enough, I have no idea.

What were the highlights for me? MIPFormats was interesting, but mostly because it wasn’t really that interesting – most of the formats felt slightly dated, and the very best ones were based on stories that made them possible to have been made 30-40 years ago. Huge congratulations to the people from The Fed for their win at the MIPFormats Pitch Competition with Zombie Boot Camp – will be interesting to see what shape that format will take in the end.

I attended – by invitation – the Digital Minds Summit on Monday. The session was all about Big Data, which was extremely interesting. For instance, we’re seeing a shift back to appointment television – i.e. the practice of everyone getting together at a certain time to watch a certain episode of a certain series – and away from time shifted TV viewing. This is a trend wholly driven by social media, as the viewers want to feel part of a community with similar interests, a community communicating and commenting there and then via, for instance, Twitter.

What I lacked from the DMS though was more comment on how I as a producer and creator can influence Big Data. I get that we, to be able to understand Big Data, need to break it down into Little Data, actionable pieces of information, but I would have liked a more thorough discussion on how one can influence there pieces of Little Data, through marketing or audience interaction for instance, to in the end change the message of the Big Data.

For the rest of the week it was MIPTV, MIPCube and MIPDigital; I’ll say that the innovations on display at the MIPCube were often very interesting – and there are a lot of good talks up on ReedMIDEM’s MIP channel on YouTube – and the content people talking at MIPDigital sure knew their stuff. It is easy to be in awe of the massive numbers of views on, for instance, Maker Studios’ channels and videos. Still, the monetization models are lagging behind those of the TV industry. There’s so very much these two could learn from each other.

I left Cannes and MIP on Thursday morning with a slight sense of forebodance. There is a whole industry teetering on the edge of the abyss at the moment. It will need to shift focus and become less traditional and more organic, in order to survive and thrive. Will it be able to do so? I believe it will, but I also believe it will take time – time we perhaps do not really have.

One thing’s for sure – the coming months and years will be some interesting ones! 🙂

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