THE IMPACT OF DIGITAL BROADCASTING ON FILM DISTRIBUTION
Content originators and content distributors agree that a lot more work needs to be done to empower Africa's filmmakers. The emergence of mobile tv, and IPTV have not reduced the scope of filmmakers to earn a living from their creative work. According to various speakers gathering at the Sithengi Film and Television Market in Cape Town, New Media do not pose any threat to the survival of the industry as long as the content produced is of high quality.
In many overseas countries, people can now be lying down in bed but still watch their favourate programs such sports, news and music without switching on the television set. Music clips and news have proved to be very popular with viewers and more and more young viewers are making mobile TV and IPTV part of their entertainment experience. However, music remains the leader in terms of revenue and audience levels.
According to Jennifer Marshall of Vodacom, New Media have the potential to bolster the industry provided content producers keep up with developments in the mobile industry sector. Marshall also pointed out that Vodafone has been experimenting with live sports and news programs in the past months in order to make sure that what they are distributing is what the customers want. Vodafone has ventured into live events such as horse racing and football which have proved to be very popular with viewers.
Existing mobile phone brands are improving their offerings and will in the end prove to be commercially viable as long as people feel that what they are being offered meets their entertainment needs. Age and gender have not been very much the focus of New Media trends. They target all age groups and sexes but what has been apparent in the past few months is that the younger generation and male viewers dominate the use of New Media. In other words content producers must be aware of customer needs to be successful in the content producing sector, and try to target all age groups and sexes to maximize their audience reach.
According to Brennan Babb, Mnet's New Media Manager, developments in Online content distribution has enabled Dstv to reach out to many customers who reside in South Africa and abroad. For example, the KUDU club offers South Africans traveling abroad the opportunity to view South African content be it news or sports wherever they are in the world. Babb told delegates that infrastructure to launch new media broadcasting platforms will continue to improve and people must expect more in the near future. He said that digital playout facilities also need a back up system to become sustainable over a long period of time.
Babb pointed out that the task of distributing content using New Media platforms is a challenge. He said Dstv for example get their content from overseas networks and content producers send their programs via the Internet or via satellite. According to Babb video distribution is dramatically scaling down. He said that Dstv makes use of different techniques to acquire and distribute content. In fact Mnet has implemented a media assest management project to manipulate and repurpose content for New Media and satellite distribution.
He said that some of their files come via Telkom links from content providers and episodes are captured via satellite and then edited in line with the needs of Mnet. He cited an example of Fox and Disney world as two of the players who are driving many content giants to look to Online distribution mechanism for maximum returns on their investment. Furthermore, Mnet and Dstv create their play list for the week Online, and Dstv has made the viewing experience more entertaining by allowing viewers to skip advertisements by using the PVR which can fast forward or rewind programs. According to Babb, Multichoice is now busy doing tests with DVBH.
However, when content producers create content for mobile Tv and IPTV they must keep in mind the size of the text. Images for mobile TV and IPTV must be slightly larger than the images for traditional television. The coming of High Density Television (HDTV) and High Density Cameras will also improve the quality of content produced.
Jeremy Nathan also said that content is key and digital broadcasting has not shrunk the market but has made it more lucrative provided you have the right content that audiences want to see. Even though the uptake of New Media is faster than expected there isn't enough high quality content. That is why many content distributors are looking to home or personally produced content to distribute provided it has the right impact on the audience.
However, there is a feeling among some customers that digital content distribution is not reaching them with the correct content and a need has arisen to come up with a new revenue model.
The youth are considered the future of mobile TV since they have now turned the tables against 50-60 year olds who were traditionally richer than the youth of their days. Today's youths have mobile phones and they attract a lot of advertising than their adult counterparts. To succeed in the mobile TV environment, product placement is the way to go not conventional advertising because viewing on the mobile phone is slack and people watch only for 7 minutes and as a result you can't put advertisements but place your product in the program, otherwise consumers will have to face higher viewing costs or more and more advertising.
Even though there is hope for success in the long term the only threat that remains is that of piracy. According to industry analysts billions of dollars are lost through piracy. Digital warehousing is the only guarantee that will make end-users account for using content that is not theirs and the warehousing model is likely to make sure that every part of the content that is downloaded and the identity of those downloading the content is recorded.
Highway Africa News Agency