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Why do media companies rebrand and rebundle at such a rapid pace?

An interview with Ezra Eeman (EBU) - 08.10

Media & Culture Fast Forward’s programme is almost reaching its final form. Weekly, we give you a glimpse of what to expect. Today, we have a chat with Ezra Eeman from EBU. 

 

Ezra, you’re Head of Digital & Platforms at EBU. That’s an interesting field to be working in, especially now that traditional linear content consumption keeps losing more ground. I listen to the radio with an app. I watch TV on my computer. Not to mention international streaming services such as Netflix and Disney+. Which challenges do you see?

Ezra: We’re living in a new digital reality. Hence the important question: how do you get content to your audience? And how do you keep reaching this audience? Because the shift from traditional TV to a digital platform isn’t easy. You have to put in the work to keep a good relationship with your audience. On the one hand, you want to increase their engagement. On the other hand, you also have to understand their needs

Is it best to use your own platform? Or should you release your content on external platforms, such as YouTube?

Ezra: Well, both options have their pros and cons. On your own platform, you can curate your content and really display everything you have. You can choose a very specific journey for your audience. You’re also much more in control compared to external platforms such as YouTube.

But I suppose your own platform brings disadvantages too?

Ezra: Yes, indeed. Your audience has to find its way to your platform. So the funnel to this app or website has to be great. Spare no effort to get them there, for instance by offering exclusive content. You should also work on your brand awareness.

Speaking of which: it’s not easy for a consumer to tell apart every single one of your 25 brands. Or to really know what brand shows what content. So go ahead and ask yourself: how do I curate content on this one platform? Sorted by brand? Or sorted by, for instance, genre?

This issue of oversupply has been tackled by our competitors at DPG Media. Their different channels have now been bundled as VTM 1, 2, 3 and 4. A smart move, according to you?

Ezra: It surely offers clear starting points. For classical television, you can go to VTM 1, 2, 3 and 4. To rewatch something, there’s VTM Go. And news can be found at HLN. That’s crystal clear. Others have done the same, such as France Télévisions. A couple of years ago, they shifted their brand identity and numbered their channels from 1 (or ‘first’, to be more precise) to 5. 

On their website (and also on VTM Go), DPG Media no longer categorises their content primarily by channel, but rather by genre. An important sidenote: communication on such a platform should remain rather general. It is more difficult to add a specific tone of voice per brand. This is a tricky issue if your brands are strongly linear, as is the case with VRT, and if you suddenly bring them together online in a new way.

Also new at DPG Media and at VRT is the launch of the ‘Flemish Netflix’, Streamz. That was a couple of weeks ago. What are your conclusions for the time being?

Ezra: With Streamz, both DPG Media and VRT are aiming for a completely different audience than with VTM Go and VRT NU respectively. It is a paid subscription, so it’s not to be compared with the normal brands. It is difficult to see a real evolution right now. In the Google search result trend of the past weeks you can see two clear peaks: at the press release and at the launch. But apart from that, Netflix inexorably dominates the market. On a European level, we also know that every family wants at most 3 to 5 subscriptions. This means that, as a streamer, it is immensely important to end up in that top 3. I am curious to see whether Streamz will succeed in securing that position.

Recently, a new platform was born that few saw coming: the KBC app. What is your opinion on expanding a banking app in this way?

Ezra: I find it very interesting. I’m not sure whether I have an opinion on it yet, but I find it fascinating. 

By showing football results in their app, you build a different relationship with your customers. You also motivate football fans to stick with the app for other things. In doing so, you make a very conscious choice. A choice that will not be equally well received by all clients. After all, there might just as well have been something else instead of the football button, something more useful to them. 

I am particularly curious about their future strategy with the app. One day, those rights will lapse and then what? 

This is a question you can ask one of the creators of the app at the end of this year! 

Ezra: Right! At Media & Culture Fast Forward I will host a panel on rebranding and rebundling for new platforms. And KBC should definitely be part of this conversation.

Who else will join your panel?

Ezra: The people behind VRT NU will explain their strategy. And one of the creators of BBC Sounds also joins them at the table.

What exactly does BBC Sounds mean?

Ezra: Just like DPG Media and France Télévisions, BBC has been looking for an umbrella platform, but for their radio productions. BBC Sounds is one app for all their audio. It clusters live programmes, reruns and extra non-linear content such as podcasts. Of course, the question here is: how do you ensure a pleasant journey for each of your target groups? What tone of voice do you use throughout your app? Should VRT do the same, you should reach both Klara and MNM listeners with the same app and text. This is a very interesting case that also applies to print or video. 

Next week the Digital Media Days will take place, a bit like a European edition of Media & Culture Fast Forward. What are you looking forward to most?

Ezra: That’s correct. Media & Culture Fast Forward mainly focuses on the local ecosystem, while the Digital Media Days go wider. All public broadcasters make their State of Digital and tell what plans they have for the future. It is also an inspiration event for creators. This year I’m looking forward to Michael Bhaskar, not coincidentally someone who will also speak at Media & Culture Fast Forward. He will talk about curation, both from an editorial and a strategic point of view. 

And now our final question: what are the next steps in a European context, according to you?

Ezra: We have to realise that we can really make a difference with local content. Even if you want to bet on big streamers. Netflix will soon be obliged by Europe to offer 25% local content. We’re talking about own or purchased productions. That is why there is also a race for local talent. For some production houses these are pretty good times right now. Just think of the makers of premium fiction and drama.

Interview by Jacotte Brokken
Analog & Digital Creative