Kate Bulkley, Media Analyst.

Brexit will heat up VoD battle

By Kate Bulkley

Broadcast News

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For Broadcast February 06, 2020

FAANGs will be in an even stronger position without oversight from EU, says Kate Bulkley

Here we are in our first week of the post-Brexit era – do you feel any different?

Business gurus like ad man Martin Sorrell are hoping for post-Brexit Britain to be “Singapore on steroids” with a “low-tax, regulation-lite, agile economy” ready for growth.

Others, however, fear Brexit will mean more trade barriers and extra costs for UK businesses.

Given that our European partners consume half of this country’s exports and a trade deal with them could take some time, post-Brexit uncertainty will likely continue.

Despite the upheaval, last year, film and high-end TV production spend in the UK reached a record £3.6bn ($4.7bn), according to the BFI, an increase of 16% from 2018.

Fuelled by the weaker pound, the big and booming creative industries have become a key part of the UK economy. Are you listening Mr Boris Big Ben Brexit Bong?

Post Brexit, the UK will move forward without the benefit of European regulations and oversight of the FAANG mega-players.

Given their heft and might, this is worrying – like it or not, video consumption and advertising spend continues to move inexorably online and on-demand, hastened by the launch of more Netflix wannabees, including Disney+.

Indeed, the rise of SVoD appears to have had a substitutive effect on broadcast TV viewing and has particularly damaged ad-funded broadcasters.

According to Ampere Analysis research, commercial broadcasting has suffered a 15% decline in market share globally since 2015.

Dizzyingly, nearly 100,000 hours of content is available to British homes through major SVoD services, according to Ampere, while in January alone, a further 20,000 hours of programming entered production from the top 20 TV groups.

Accordingly, services including BBC iPlayer must ramp up the volume (and quality) of the content they offer in order to compete for consumer attention.

The corporation’s digital service enjoyed its best ever year in 2019, with more than 4 billion requests to stream shows. The second series of Killing Eve had almost 41 million requests, making it the most-requested iPlayer show of 2019.

“In a post-Brexit world, the pressure on iPlayer will increase and the BBC’s current position as a leading VoD service will be vulnerable”

Other fan favourites on iPlayer with high double-digit millions of requests included Strictly Come Dancing, The Apprentice, Peaky Blinders and Line Of Duty.

In a more competitive post-Brexit world, the pressure on iPlayer will increase and the BBC’s current position as a leading VoD service will be vulnerable.

On top of all this, there is a connected devices battle brewing. Amazon Fire TV sticks have a near 40% share of the UK market, and while almost two-thirds of households watch iPlayer on a monthly basis, Netflix is not far behind.

As the number of video apps increases, the BBC will have to fight harder for iPlayer to be integrated more prominently on connected devices.

An overdue overhaul of the iPlayer service is expected this year, including extending programme availability from 30 days to a year. While good news for iPlayer users, the BBC’s joint venture with ITV on the fledgling SVoD BritBox service may be adversely affected.

It’s complicated, but 2020 is definitely going to be the year of the big VoD bun fight. Like any good brawl, there will be winners and losers.

The key factors in an increasingly crowded VoD market will be securing visibility for your service, perceived value for money and, perhaps most important of all, the threat of being outfought in the race for cut-through content. ­

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