There are a variety of scenarios that may play out ahead when it comes to the media industry. The CMA Media Council, comprised of buyers, planners, media producers, platforms and other industry leaders, discussed a series of domino lines in play that could determine the fate of media spend, consumer attention and content.
TV production uncertainty
If production does not resume as normal in July, the fall TV season will not exist in the way we are used to - and may in fact not happen at all. With upfronts cancelled, the procurement of TV advertising is uncertain.
It's important to note that the TV season was created for the automotive industry. Seasons aren't designed for viewers, but rather for advertisers and media to have a marketplace. This is the first time there will be no marketplace.
Competition for star power
The stars of TV are often also stars of movies. With schedules thrown off balance, it will be harder to return actors to their TV shows if they have made competing movie commitments. This will delay the production of TV shows, which doesn't just affect broadcasters, but also impacts streaming platforms like Netflix that often feature huge stars with major movie careers in their TV programs.
New content forms
We may see a move to sterialized episodic content, micro content and, potentially, lower production reality TV show. There may also be a fierce battle for global rights to shows that never aired in Canada, such as a hit program from another market. Reruns of classic shows like Golden Girls will become a hot commodity for rights. New content may also be opportunistic and quick - think YouTube videos for TV. Ultimately, audiences will crave better production as we also tire of the Zoom delivery of late night and daytime shows.
We are at peak viewing, not peak advertising
Audiences are wathing and consuming media and news across platforms at record-high levels, but advertisers have pulled back. The Council debated the notion that if advertising pulls back too far, companies will need to rebuild brand salience and presence at a higher cost. We are in an efficiency race, not an effectiveness one, and the Council hopes marketers move back to the centre of that balance.
All Major sports - without fans or cable?
Major league sports organizations are trying to figure out their next move. It is possible that all major league sports will return on air at the same time, and thus fragment the audience for sports and saturate attention. Sports will look different; for example, Major League Baseball (MLB) is considering going live in Arizona with no fas. The first sport to be broadcast will most likely be the PGA and they are starting with a charity match. That being said, all sports commissioners are exploring all of their options, with none yet confirmed. Once plans are in place, advertising dollars will follow very quickly as there is massive pent up demand from sports fans.
Without sports, why keep our cable? Live sports was one of the last remaining reasons to not cut the cord. The lack of live sports has created an opportunity for DAZN and other sports streaming services to give consumers the sports content they need.
Media is transforming and creativity is flourishing
People are consuming more content than ever, which is expanding media companies' motivation to innovate and try new ideas faster. Consumers will seek out different types of content more than they ever have before and the media players in Canada are moving to address those opportunities and fix any lingering issues with existing business models.
Stories will get better. Talented TV writers and showrunners will have more time to create. This is likely to lead to more interesting content to consume in the coming year.
Marketers do recover over time, but habits might change permanently as consumers decide what to keep, cut or add with regard to their monthly media bills. Data and research, with a healthy dose of creativity, will be crucial to understanding audiences and their habits and planning for the road ahead. What is certain is that the CMA Media Council will remain curious and engaged!