EMA Producing OTT_@Pipeline Conference Sept. 25

The Entertainment Merchants Association is producing OTT_X@Pipeline at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles Sept. 25.

It’s the 12th year for the conferences, formerly titled Digital Media Pipeline. The event is a one-day business-to-business conference bringing together the OTT community for research presentations, knowledge sharing and networking.

OTT_X@Pipeline kicks off at 8:30 a.m. with a breakfast followed by panels, spotlight chats, research presentations and a keynote speaker to be announced. It ends with a cocktail party 5:15-6:15 p.m.

Panels include “What’s the Future of OTT?” and “Efficiencies Toward Profits.” There will be a Movies Anywhere update at 4:45 p.m.

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Research presentations include “To License or Not to License,” about the question of whether to invest in more original content or rely on licensed acquisitions, presented by Alejandro Rojas of Parrot Analytics; “International Development of Premium Digital Video Markets,” a review of the latest trends in international markets for SVOD and transactional digital video, presented by David Sidebottom of Futuresource; and “Navigating the Fragmented TV Landscape,” in which Samba TV will share the latest viewership trends.

EMA’s LAES and OTT Conferences Kick Off July 16

The Entertainment Merchants Association will hold its annual Los Angeles Entertainment Summit at the Hilton Universal City starting July 16, along with a concurrent conference OTT_X covering the over-the-top market.

Events begin at 9 a.m. following a network breakfast with an introduction from EMA president and CEO Mark Fisher and OTT_X chair Erick Opeka of Cinedigm.

Erick Opeka

For the OTT_X conference, panels in the morning include “Monetization Trends in OTT” and “Windowing 2.0: Key Strategies for Enhancing Content Value & Revenue.” At 11:30 Tubi CCO Adam Lewison will participate in the fireside chat/keynote “AVOD at Scale.”

The LAES program kicks off after lunch. It includes the panel “Consumer View of Digital Entertainment,” two research sessions and the panel “Retailers and Consumer-Facing Services.”

The evening concludes with a cocktail party at 6 p.m. at the Hilton pool sponsored by FandangoNow.

July 17 includes OTT_X business meetings and presentations, as well as discussions on four tracks: EMA Retailing Council, Digital Supply Chain (retailers track), Digital Supply Chain (specialized track) and OTT_X Workshops. Round robin buyer/seller meetings take place from 3-5 p.m.

Register here.

The complete schedule is here.

EMA to Present OTT Conference July 16-17

The Entertainment Merchants Association will present an over-the-top channels market and conference “OTT_X” July 16-17 at the Universal Hilton in Universal City, Calif.

The invitation-only event for C-level leaders in the OTT segment of the entertainment industry will consist of one-on-one business meetings between content providers and ad-supported and subscription OTT channels, a half-day conference featuring industry analysts and thought leaders, a service and technology providers showcase, high-speed introductory meetings specifically designed for burgeoning OTT channels, and networking events, according to the EMA.

OTT_X will be co-located with, but separate from, the EMA’s Los Angeles Entertainment Summit, the annual get-together of the home video industry, according to the EMA.

Erick Opeka, president of Cinedigm Digital Networks, will chair the confab.

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“Until now, there hasn’t been a set marketplace where buyers and sellers, providers, and distributors of OTT content can come together to network and connect in a meaningful way,” Opeka said in a statement. “That’s one of the driving forces that makes OTT_X such an important event. Through this dynamic gathering of industry leaders and pioneers, we have created an incredible opportunity where executives can explore potential partnerships with the outlets and providers that are best suited to their unique interests and needs. Our ultimate goal is that this will enable efficient and effective agreements to be made, while further expanding and revolutionizing the OTT landscape.”

“The OTT segment of the video industry is growing tremendously and needs a premier event to bring key players together to do business, share knowledge, and expand their contacts, and that is what EMA is providing with the OTT_X market and conference,” added Mark Fisher, EMA president and CEO, in a statement.

The OTT_X steering committee consists of David Bloom (media journalist), Dean Cates (The Africa Channel), George Chung (JungoTV), Paul Colichman (Here Media), Gary Delfiner (Digital Sylvia), Pat McDonough (Mill Creek Entertainment), Colin Petrie-Norris (Xumo), Steve Raymond (Vubiquity), Carlos Sanchez (Legendary Entertainment) and Randy Wells (Magnolia Pictures).

Subscription Streaming Driving Waves of Change in Entertainment Market, Speakers Say

LOS ANGELES — The enormous cachet and power of subscription streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon — and the proliferation of like services — are major drivers in entertainment market disruption and are giving content creators increased clout.

That was the opinion of speakers at the Entertainment Finance Forum presented by Winston Baker Feb. 27.

“It’s never been a better time to be a content creator,” said Michael Lee, CFO, Perfect World Pictures (USA), but he added for his company it’s also “getting incredibly more difficult to greenlight a film” with all the competing entertainment outlets. That means the company must get more involved in getting closer to and helping film creators.

“It is very scary for us that are still part of the establishment,” added Ron Hohauser, CFO, Legendary.

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While subscription streaming is the future, he noted adding up all of the charges for the different services can amount to “a car payment.”

With the proliferation of subscription services “your car payment goes from a Prius to a Porsche,” Lee added. “Consumers aren’t going to want to have 32 subscriptions.”

What is developing is “a content bubble that’s going to be paid for by a lot of investors,” Hohauser said.

For the time being, capital from the American stock market that funds the big streamers “makes them formidable competitors,” said Eric Briggs, CFO and chief strategy officer at media company Macro, adding “they can buy whatever they want.”

But that, too, could change.

“I do think investor-funded content creation will come to an end at some point,” added Ambereen Toubassy, CFO at Quibi, a short-form content subscription entertainment company backed by Jeffrey Katzenberg. “Content will need to be economically feasible.”

“Chasing Netflix is a lose proposition,” noted Adrienne Becker, CEO of Level Forward, which backs projects driven by women and people of color. She supports concentrating on serving underserved communities with content.

On the content side, Toubassy added there are ripe opportunities in the short-form arena, which Quibi plans to mine when it launches as a subscription service to consumers in 2020.

“The reason we’re so excited about the short form video market … is it’s a huge market,” she said, citing YouTube’s 1.9 billion users.

Quibi plans to bring premium content to those short-form content viewers used to settling for grainy, underproduced YouTube fare. That includes everything from scripted storytelling in 10-minute chapters to tell a two-hour story to “quick bites” of reality programming, documentaries or content from young, lesser known filmmakers to “daily essentials [that are] meant to be habit-forming news programming,” she said.

Indeed, content must become more premium to succeed, noted Adhrucia Apana, an executive with Creative Wealth Media, as the entry of so many subscription players has raised the bar for all entertainment companies.

“No longer can you make Dude, Where’s My Car? and expect that to be a blockbuster,” she said. “You’re seeing the bar on all of those platforms go up.”

DEW Speakers: Authenticity, Accessibility Key to Marketing Content

Authenticity and accessibility were two of the top themes for speakers on the “View From the Top: The Future of Content Marketing” panel at the Digital Entertainment World conference in Marina del Rey, Calif., Feb. 5.

“We’re in a very admirable position in that our content, movies, movie trailers, people view it as a form of entertainment,” said Sandro Corsaro, SVP and chief creative officer, Fandango. “Not many people here would watch three or four car commercials for entertainment, but people love trailers.”

He noted how entertainment has a natural viral nature.

“Our influencers, if you will, if you look at Chris Pratt on Instagram yesterday or the day before, he posted about The Lego Movie 2, he posted about the Rotten Tomato score (Rotten Tomatoes is a sister company to Fandango) and that pushed to Fandango,” he said. “We don’t pay him to do that. We don’t tell him to do that. He has a vested interest obviously in the success of the content, so we’re fortunate in that sense.”

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Fandango also uses branded marketing.

“We had a program over the summer called Fanticipation with Microsoft Surface where we had a bunch of influencers get together and talk about movies using the Surface Pro to kind of diagram and design and talk about superhero movies,” he said.

Both instances involve authenticity and accessibility that make the campaigns more relevant for digital audiences.

“The expression of authenticity and the expression of accessibility through content marketing — those are the core tenets that we think of all the time when we talk about movies,” Corsaro said.

Kym Nelson, SVP of Twitch, noted that the gameplay live streaming service is one that tends to “resonate with Gen Z and the millennial audience, and [advertisers] recognize that that is their current and future consumer.”

Twitch has gathered those streamers into a force that brands can utilize.

“We’ve created a tool that automates the ability for all of our streamers to participate in a bounty if you will and we’re able to collect data on the backend and for any data we can match the information from the brand and the information from the streamers,” she said.

For instance, with Dollar Shave Club, Twitch utilized appropriate streamers to review and talk about the product. “We had them play with it and we knew it was a roll of the dice,” Nelson said.

Suffice it to say, there were unexpected streamed responses.

“They are laugh out loud funny,” offered Russell Arons, SVP and GM of Machinima.

Fandango, too, has been able to leverage comedy.

“Kevin Hart has been obviously on this meteoric rise,” noted Corsaro. “I think he’s what 135 pounds so we made him a belt that said, ‘Pound for Pound, Biggest Movie Star in the World.’ We gave him that belt in front of the Rock and we kind of watched it matriculate on the Internet.”

Authenticity, often proffered by comedy, is not the only thing marketing in the digital age requires; accessibility is also important.

“Experiential is the thing right now,” said Arons, referencing events such as Comic-con and the interaction with fans there.

“This desire to find their communities in person that they’ve been interacting with online is incredibly powerful,” she said.

Twitch’s Nelson added that “integrating [experiential] with a live stream platform so that that experiential experience can be broadcast to a wider audience so people in Mississippi, who may not be at Comic-con or South by Southwest, have that live experience [is also important].”

Tim Sovay, COO of CreatorIQ, noted the Feb. 1 event featuring DJ Marshmello and the Fortnite game platform.

“There was no brand involved in this, but it was just the power of the platform with the right artist and the right audience,” he said. “10 million confirmed viewers on a 10-minute concert took place live on the platform.”