Join me and six branded entertainment luminaries at my PGA New Media Council East mega-panel during Advertising Week New York, ‘Gaming the System: Branded Entertainment for Producers’ on Wednesday, September 30th, from 7:00-9:00 pm, at The New School’s Lang Auditorium, 55 West 13th Street (between 5th and 6th Avenues), 2nd floor.
In addition to great networking, food & drink, and a gathering of the new media tribes, the following presenters will appear:
Ian Schafer, chairman, US CEO and founder, Deep Focus
Warren Weideman, founder, First Look Productions LLC
Luis de la Parra, senior vice president, partner solutions, Univision
Colas Overkott, CEO, Sync
Will Misselbrook, head of branded entertainment, Condé Nast Entertainment
The leaders in sports tech – from biofeedback to AR/VR to data for rehab and load management – gathered on Wednesday, November 15th at Citi Field in New York City for the Upside Sports Tech Summit. Chris Pfaff moderated an all-star panel – ‘The Future of Digital in Sports’ – which included:
‘The Future of Digital in Sports’ panel (l to r): Orlando Lewis, Sorare; James Giglio, MVP Interactive; Bobby Basham, Chicago Cubs; Kristin Boggiano, TurnkeyTix; Stevland Wilson, Monumental Sports & Entertainment; Jed Corenthal, Phenix, and Chris Pfaff
The event convened 100 teams (including the New York Yankees, Toronto Raptors, Minnesota Vikings, New York Liberty, Boston Red Sox, Atletico de Madrid, Sacramento Kings, Chicago Cubs), sports associations (La Liga, English Premier League, NBA, NCAA), and innovators (NeuFit, MVP Interactive, Living Cities, Brainlit, DraftKings) over the course of the day.
Speakers included Tom Ryan, VP of strategy and head of NBA Launchpad; Meredith McPherron, CEO, Drive by DraftKings; Rahal Letterman, Lanigan Racing; Alex Rodrigo, SVP/GM, Sacramento Kings; Kyle Harris, CEO, Brainlit; Scott Riewald, manager, MiLB performance development, Boston Red Sox; Dr. Ola Eriksrud, co-founder, 1080 Motion; Carlos del Barrio, Atletico de Madrid; Dr. Marco Nunez, former head athletic trainer, Los Angeles Lakers; Konrad von Moltke, principal, investment arm of the Wilf family (owners of NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, and Orlando City MLS/NWSL), and Andrew Hippert, investment principal, NY Techstars sports accelerator.
Chris Pfaff moderated a virtual session – ‘Know Your Audience: How to Use Data to Raise ROI’ – during the Streaming Media Connect event, on November 15, 2023, featuring Daniel Trotta, from Warner Bros. Discovery; Paul Erickson, from Erickson Insights; Bethany Atchison, from Vevo, and Alan Wolk, from TVREV.
See two posts from StreamingMedia.com below, by Tyler Nesler – ‘Metadata and the Battle for Streaming ROI’ on December 18, 2023 and ‘How AI Helps Solve Streaming Content Monetization’ on December 11, 2023 – with video excerpts.
Pfaff notes that a major topic right now in the streaming industry is the importance of metadata for receiving the best possible ROI. “This is a big, big topic right now as streamers, large and small are trying to find revenue,” he says. “And how are they going to do that?” He asks Erickson about his thoughts on the situation.
“I think metadata is absolutely key, in my opinion, to multiple elements that either directly or indirectly tie to ROI,” Erickson says. “And so when we think about sustaining engagement, which is fundamental to retention and monetization, it’s directly connected to personalization and search and recommendation. If we think about how efficiently you can target and address specific audiences with your advertising, that specificity is aided tremendously by the metadata that helps advertisers understand the nuances of that audience they’re trying to hit. There’s a lot of value [that can be] reaped by those parties who can effectively enhance and enrich metadata, typically using AI…and particularly when it comes to equalizing the level of metadata quality and richness in diverse libraries that may be consistent or that may consist of new and legacy content perhaps from different sources such as what you might have in a FAST channel.”
Erickson also points out that metadata can help to better target the “specific nuances of portions of your content portfolio that are not performing well with your audience and give you some insight into why, depending on the richness and quality of that metadata. And thus, it can help you optimize your existing content portfolio and inform your future content acquisition strategy.”
Pfaff says, “Basically, you’re saying that metadata is really the linchpin. It’s the DNA of everything.”
Erickson says good metadata is table stakes, but “rich metadata is potentially a force multiplier for overall service ROI if you leverage it correctly.”
Pfaff says to Atchison, “I think last year you were really responsible for creating the FAST Channel strategy for Vevo. Talk a little bit about that and how you’re using data to amplify and pump up that ROI.”
“So for anyone who doesn’t know,” Atchinson says, “Vevo is the world’s leading music video network. We have over 800,000 music videos in our catalog across a variety of decades across genres. So organizing our data is really important to keep track of all of that content.” She emphasizes that clean metadata is essential in order to efficiently organize and optimize information. “We have a programming team that uses their expertise to program each of our individual fast channels, but they need to leverage AI and data to really comb through all of that and surface everything to them because there’s just so much content to go through. So for us, it’s really tantamount to the success of our channels.”
Pfaff says to Trotta, “Let’s talk about channels with Warner Brothers Discovery. Talk about how you’re sifting through the metadata sands to enhance all things revenue.”
Trotta focuses on the “pause ad” feature available on many platforms as a good use case of metadata for exceptional ROI. “Say you’re watching something like Breaking Bad and you pause on one of those moments in Breaking Bad where maybe you don’t want somebody walking into the room. You also don’t want an advertiser’s ad to pop up over that. I know streaming services are working towards this metadata that runs through the episode to show you when areas are safe and when they are not. It allows you to take this ad format and distribute it across more of your programming hours than you otherwise would have. So that’s ROI. That’s money in your pocket right there. And it’s a better viewing experience than dropping this ad where it shouldn’t be.”
Pfaff asks Wolk, “What recently stands out to you in terms of the state of metadata where streamers are battling for engagement and retention?”
Wolk says that a major current issue for utilizing good metadata is the fact that when older popular shows were first digitized, no one really thought about how to tag content consistently. “Like Seinfeld ‘comedy show,’ Seinfeld, ‘funny show.’ And sometimes it’d be in all caps, sometimes it’d be in lowercase,” he says. “It’s really hard to kind of match it up. And so there’s been a lot of work being done. There are companies like IRIS.TV, which have sort of created a content tag that tries to standardize it. But it’s a huge problem with advertising because a lot of times they don’t really know what’s going on. The good news is everybody’s aware of it and is moving to fix it, but it’s way behind what’s available on digital.”
How AI Helps Solve Streaming Content Monetization
By Tyler Nesler
December 11, 2023
Much discussion of AI and streaming relates to streamlining and automating workflows, but how content companies can leverage it to personalize their content and target ads more efficiently, among other monetization strategies, is another question the industry is examining closely.
“I’m just curious from all of your perspectives where you see AI working,” Pfaff says. He asks Atchison to give her thoughts on the situation.
“We generally use AI for combing through all of the mountains of data we have across our different channels and platforms,” Atchinson says. “We definitely believe in the importance of the human element in creating our programs on our channels. So we’re really not leveraging that to create the content, but we are using it to make sure that everything is being surfaced, and that also enables us to surface new artists that might not be top of mind for everyone watching, but because the data is organized so cleanly, we’re able to find rising artists who are new in hip hop and put them on our Vevo hip hop channel and give them a platform and an opportunity to be seen in a CTV environment.”
Pfaff says to Trotta, “I’m sure you’ve got some homegrown AI that you use in addition to other major vendors. Talk about some of your war stories in trying to implement AI to ‘know thy audience’ better.”
“A lot of what you see on a streaming homepage is personalized to you and your past viewing behavior and what similar viewers to you have viewed in the past,” Trotta says. “The human element there that is still really vital is pointing the algorithm in the correct direction. So that’s setting the key input and key output metrics and determining [if you] are going to optimize for the most active viewers you can get on your service in a given day? Are you going to optimize for the most viewing hours you can get on your service in a given day? Are you going to optimize for the frequency with which users come back in a month? These are all [elements] that get sped through the pipeline that ultimately becomes what the user sees. But that’s the fundamental question to kick everything off each time.”
Pfaff says, “I think that, certainly, this will get better and better, but you’ve got to do that for millions of viewers and devices as well.” He next asks Wolk how he and TVREV view AI and how it aids service providers.
“I think AI is going to be a huge game changer,” Wolk says. “We’re already seeing it now…the thing that we always talk about is how nobody wants to run their funny commercial during the funeral scene of a show, and it’s been very hard to identify that…and now they’re able to do that to understand the emotions and even other things, like if I’m Cadillac and Matthew McConaughey is in a scene, I want to run my ad there too, so it creates a nice synergy. And then even understanding what sorts of shows viewers like and being able to personalize their feeds. It’s just such an exciting time, and the ability to do this is just going to be incredible.”
Pfaff asks Erickson, “I’m just curious, in terms of things like ad frequency and ad fatigue…how that needs to be solved and what you’re seeing in terms of solutions.”
“Well, certainly I think AI will help in that, but my thoughts on ad overload and poor targeting…they’re always going to be a net negative for engaging or retention, which obviously impacts your ROI over time,” Erickson says. “My thought on this [is that] content is that the lifeblood of any video operation, whether that’s traditional broadcast, the streaming services, Free Ad-Supported Television (FAST) channels…it can make or break the economics of your service. The right content brings people in, keeps them there, and brings them back. But running out of content leads to them to churning. Spending too much on that content, no matter how good and relevant will put you upside down ROI-wise. So today, I think we’re finally seeing serious judicious review of content spending when it comes to acquisitions and commissions to ensure that overall content budgets are being used efficiently and profitably.”
He notes that ad frequency and poor demographic data are particular issues for FAST. “Hopefully, it’s going to be improved, and it is improving.” He says that ultimately, it remains very important “To make sure that you are spending your budget judiciously on the right kinds of content, whether that’s an original commission or licensing it…I think that will still be fundamental to your service’s success.”
Chris Pfaff moderated a timely session – ‘Defining the New Pay TV Bundle and the Path to Growth and Engagement’ – with Barry Tishgart (ex-Disney, ex-Comcast) and Chris Defendis (ex-Warner Bros.) at NAB NY at Jacob Javits Center in New York City on October 25, 2023.
Chris Pfaff moderated an all-star panel on the FAST industry sector – ‘FAST Times: Keeping Up with the FAST Ecosystem’ – during the virtual Streaming Media Connect conference, on August 24, 2023, with Christina Chung, from Estrella Media; Damian Pelliccione, from Revry; Marisa Elizondo, from Fubo, and Jeff Flanagan, from HARTBEAT.
Read Steve Nathans-Kelly’s piece on the session in Streaming Media, dated November 7, 2023 and Tyler Nesler’s piece from September 15, 2023 below:
The State of FAST: Around the Horn with Fubo, Estrella Media, and HARTBEAT
With all the talk of FAST 2.0 and the explosion of FAST channels to the point of approaching market saturation, is FAST’s self-reinvention a foregone conclusion, or even advisable at this juncture? What are the new and emerging FAST growth strategies that are driving growth today, as opposed to a year or two ago? And how have the strikes in Hollywood that consumed at least 2 quarters of the year impacted channel and content development? At Streaming Media Connect 2023, Chris Pfaff of Chris Pfaff Tech Media posed these questions to three executives from key players in the FAST ecosystem: HARTBEAT, Fubo, and Estrella Media.
For Kevin Hart-founded entertainment network HARTBEAT (formerly known as Laugh Out Loud), the emerging FAST strategy has been surprisingly YouTube-focused. “We’re seeing more growth in viewership minutes and numbers, but with the caveat that where we’re seeing that growth is on the big ones–Tubi, Pluto, Samsung, Roku,” says Jeff Clanagan, President and Chief Distribution Officer at HARTBEAT. “We just launched a FAST channel on our YouTube page, which is doing extremely well. We’ve only been up about four months now. The advantage that we had in doing that is we already had a YouTube page that had five million subscribers on it. So what we were able to do–which I think only a couple of people have done– is launch our FAST stream on our YouTube page versus a separate FAST stream in another environment in YouTube. So we are able to tap into that audience that we’ve already curated.”
For sports-centric live TV streaming network Fubo, the strategy of leaning heavily into FAST with new channel launches has continued apace despite the writers and actors strikes that have largely halted the production or infusion of new content. “Fubo is a live streaming platform,” says Fubo VP, Content Strategy & Acquisition Marisa Elizondo. “We’re sports-focused. We’ve leaned in very heavily over the past year into the FAST space thinking, ‘There is probably a happy medium between the FAST world and the traditional linear networks. So over the past year, we were taking a slow and steady approach to launching FAST channels, and we actually leaned in quite heavily and launched about 100 FAST channels. And what’s unique about us is that we’ve mixed them in between all of the packaging. So if you pulled up our channel lineup, you would see that all of the FAST channels are kind of mixed in. And it’s been great. Despite the strikes, we have still had a ton of inbound requests of new networks that are trying to get launched, trying to get eyeballs. So I’m rather busy in taking all of those, but I don’t think the strikes have deterred any independent nets or new nets from trying to get additional distribution.”
“FAST has grown significantly,” said Christina Chung, VP Business Operations at Spanish-language multi-platform media company Estrella Media. “In the last three years, our business at Estrella has really grown from FAST distribution at $0 to a multi-million-dollar business. We work with a number of different partners such as Fubo where we have our four channels: Estrella TV, Estrella News, Estrella Games, and Cine Estrella, which is our movie channel. And we’ve seen astronomical growth because I think viewers in the world are looking for places where they can find content outside of just buying a cable subscription or a broadcast subscription. So it is an opportunity to have a free ad-supported television experience that is very similar to the traditional linear business. And Estrella has put all of our marketing dollars into FAST and do have our own app, but FAST is our bread and butter at this point. It’s grown into this behemoth where we work very closely with all of our different distribution partners and we work on different content strategies with each of them.”
How Premium Brands Are Leveraging FAST
by Tyler Nesler, Streaming Media
September 15, 2023
As with any other entertainment streaming genre, the engine driving FAST is the monetization of content, and as with large-scale live events in particular, FAST thrives on pairing brands with properties and serving those brands effectively. In this clip from Streaming Media Connect 2023, Chris Pfaff, CEO, Chris Pfaff Tech Media, Producers Guild of America (PGA), VR AR Association (VRARA), talks with Damian Pelliccione, CEO / Co-Founder, Revry, how Revry works with brands and the sort of brand identification with key Revry programming that enables the industry’s leading LGBTQ+ programming destination to thrive and grow.
“There’s more innovation happening every day in FAST,” Pfaff says. “Damian, what’s interesting is a lot of people think, ‘I’ve heard of these guys Revry and what they’re doing. They’ve got these brands, they’re FAST. This isn’t subscription, this isn’t even AVOD. How do you do that? Are [people] coming to you saying, ‘I see something really both subversive and also very clever in that strategy of pulling people in who have disposable income, brands who want to attach themselves because there’s an audience, not because they just like throwing cash around. Do you find other people who are looking to pay you flattery by imitation, or where is that going?”
“I think the biggest thing we did is we built distribution and we built audience,” Pelliccione says. “We’re over 5 million monthly active viewers across all of our apps and channels, with almost 80% of that coming exclusively from our FAST channel partners. And we’ve leveraged the opportunity to sell that inventory at really high CPMs. We’re selling at the height, during Pride season, at 50, 60 CPMs, the entry point being 35, because we’re a very affluent market. We have the [highest] amount of scale of video inventory in CTV addressing this market, and we’ve not been challenged. We’re really the thought leader in this space.”
Pelliccione emphasizes that the core of FAST effectiveness is having great and original content. “Obviously, that takes the cake, where our original programming is completely underwritten by brands, de-risking all of the opportunity, us owning all of that IP,” they say. “We did over 1.5 million views in two weeks for a Voguecompetition show that was completely underwritten by Henkel’s got2b brand, the hair gel and dye, which I’m wearing right now, and Nike, which I’m also wearing right now. I obviously like to support all the brands that support us. And a shout out to John Lear, Mark [Bracero], and Linda [Morel] at Triple Threat Productions. We’re seeing multi-Emmy award-winning producers. Mark has five Emmys for Queer Eye. He’s nominated currently. Linda, having won for Key & Peele, is currently nominated for A Black Lady Sketch Show. Producers from traditional media are trying to get into the FAST and the AVOD market and work with networks like Revry because they see us scaling our business, scaling our original content opportunity, working with brands, and creating. We only create unscripted content from an original standpoint, and seeing [opportunities] like Drag Latina, which Triple Threat is producing for us right now. We did a million live impressions when we announced that show [and] when we actually premiered season one last fall, and they’re producing season two right now as we speak in Los Angeles.”
Chris Pfaff moderated an expert panel, ‘Virtual Theatre: The Metaverse Smashes the Four Walls’ at Augmented World Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center, on June 2, 2023, with Scarlett Kim, from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and Kiira Benzing, from Doubleeye Studios.
Chris Pfaff moderated an expert panel – ‘Driving Audience Engagement with Interactive Streaming’ – at the TV of Tomorrow Show at Fort Mason, in San Francisco, on May 25, 2023, with Evo Heyning, from RealityCraft; Tom Link, from MuxIP, and Adam Dornbusch, from EnTribe.
Chris Pfaff moderated a session, ‘Large-Scale Streaming for the Metaverse: Building for a World of Active Participation,’ at Streaming Media East 2023, on May 18, 2023 at the Westin Copley Place Hotel in Boston, that featured some of the leading immersive streaming pros, including Alan Bucaria, production manager for Media.Monks, Sean Gardner, head of video strategy and market development for AMD, and Joshua Johnson, senior director, solution architects, for EdgeNext.
AMD and Media.Monks had recently worked on a Post Malone Oculus VR project, ‘Post Malone’s Twelve Carat Toothache: a VR Experience,’ a virtual concert, and discussed the need for higher-resolution, low latency streaming for immersive experiences. The group also discussed the videogame industry’s work in large-scale virtual events – from Travis Scott’s Fortnite concert (27.7 milliion unique players, with 12.3 million concurrent users) to Sony PlayStation’s State of Play – and the increased use of Unreal Engine, Unity, and Lumberyard to enable creators to build their own worlds in 2D or 3D for large-scale audiences.
Tom Butts (left) and Chris Pfaff (right) at the virtual tvtech Summit – March 29, 2023
Chris Pfaff was the keynote speaker at TV Technology’s tvtech Summit, a virtual half-day event on March 29, 2023 that featured leaders in the production technology industry, in a conversation with TV Technology editor-in-chief Tom Butts. Titled ‘Why You Should Care About the Metaverse,’ the March 29th conversation dove into topics regarding persistent computing, VR and AR, and some definitional discussion over the course of 30 minutes.
Veteran media technology expert Chris Pfaff will talk with TV Tech Editor in Chief Tom Butts about our virtual future
On Wednesday, March 29, TV Tech will be holding its Spring TV Tech Summit, a series of keynote conversations, panel discussions and case studies covering the latest advances in Media and Entertainment tech.
Opening the summit, TV Tech Editor in Chief Tom Butts will talk with Chris Pfaff, founder of Chris Pfaff Tech/Media LLC, and a leading new media and technology producer and strategist on “Why You Should Care about the Metaverse.”
Chris’s 30+ year background in the industry makes him uniquely qualified to speak about this technology which (some would characterize) as “emerging” for more than a decade.
For those of us who think the metaverse is just another name for virtual reality, Chris is ready to debunk that trope.
“The metaverse is a shared decentralized digital space where you can meet, create and share a personalized experience,” he said. “But you can do that in virtual reality and in other technologies as well. And I think that someday soon, perhaps not that many years from now we will have more projectable holograms that will reflect how people currently view the future of the metaverse.
“What makes the metaverse different from virtual reality is that it has to be immersive and it has to be persistent,” Chris added. “It has to have some community which may have some connections to what you experience in the physical world. It doesn’t have to be a simulacrum of what you do in the physical world where you are just ‘layering on.’”
Making the metaverse more immersive is key, not just to entertain us but to educate us as well, Chris says
“For example, if you were studying meteorology or cosmology and somebody was teaching you about the stratosphere and the ionosphere, using the metaverse to provide a more fully immersive kind of experience could really revolutionize the way we communicate and teach,” he added.
The virtual and hybrid event production industry has benefitted from learnings forced upon it by the pandemic. Mostly, this involved the assurance that video delivery had reliability and Quality of Service (QoS). Interactivity, virtual backgrounds and immersive extensions delivered greater capabilities for audiences and producers alike. This was the background for the February 14, 2023 Streaming Media Connect session. ‘How to Do Virtual and Hybrid Events Right,’ moderated by Chris Pfaff and featuring John Porterfield, webcast producer from Social180 Group; Alex Lindsay, head of operations with 090 Media, and Dan Houze, VP, encoding & digital strategy with BCLive.
Tyler Nesler, writer for StreamingMedia.com, wrote such an excellent encapsulation of the session, that I am including it here for your reading:
Hybrid events have become much more common since the pandemic, but they have not proven to be as effective or engaging as in-person events. What are some of the issues that prevent the best QoE for hybrid participants, and how can they be remedied? Chris Pfaff, CEO, Chris Pfaff Tech Media, VR AR Association (VRARA), discusses these issues with Alex Lindsay, Head of Operations, 090 Media, and Dan Houze, VP, Encoding & Digital Strategy, BC Live in this clip from Streaming Media Connect 2023.
Chris Pfaff begins by pointing out that it was not too long ago that streamed live events were audio-only, and that it was only just before the pandemic that video began to be widely incorporated into the experience for virtual audiences. The pandemic accelerated the process of developing higher-quality streaming video at scale. However, even with the leap of improvements for QoE, much remains left to be desired. “I think for any event that you’re talking about, whether it’s a corporate event [or] a concert, that’s a huge issue,” he says. “So I really want to start with that as a topic because when we’re all involved in these events, I think we’re very forgiving. But you know, scale is such a huge part of this.” He asks Alex Lindsay of 090 Media, “What’s your take on how far we’ve come in terms of really getting that quality experience and that scale?”
“I think we’re starting to get there,” Lindsay says. “[But] I think we’re sliding backward a little bit. You know, now people want to come back into the room, and I think that the ways we’re coming back into the room have been sliding us back into the 2015, 2016 range.” He laughs and says, “You know, I’ve been doing this a bit longer than ma ny people…”
“We can tell by the gear behind you!” Pfaff says.
“2008, 2009 is when we really started streaming video,” Lindsay says. “And the main thing is that we aren’t doing it that much better now in some cases when we go back to physical events.” He refers to webinars such as Streaming Media Connect, “A lot of these events are starting to work. The problem is that there’s data that we have from 10 years ago that told us that the hybrid events weren’t working, and they’re still not working.”
Pfaff says, “So as an adjunct, that you’re a second-class citizen if you’re not in the room, you should be happy that there’s a camera with a terrible angle of five people on a stage. Is that what we’re talking about?”
“Yeah,” Lindsay says. “When we started, it made sense. You know, we’re streaming Dreamforce, and there’s 15,000 people in the room and 300 people watching, you are second class…”
“For those who don’t know, Dreamforce is Salesforce,” Pfaff says. “It’s Salesforce’s mondo over-the-top annual event.”
Lindsay emphasizes that the core issue is a virtual audience’s sense of not being fully connected to a live event, which ultimately colors their perception of the event’s significance. In that situation, he says, “They don’t feel like the event’s important. They don’t feel like the product is important. They don’t feel like a lot of these things are important, and we don’t talk enough [about that].”
“So you’re saying that in some respect, there’s a brand disconnect?” Pfaff says. That you’re damaging your brand to some extent?”
Lindsay notes that not only does this sense of disconnect damage the brand, but it hampers enthusiasm for virtual participants to return to the event. “It’s the most devastating way to do this because they don’t complain,” he says. “People who complain care about the event, they want it to be better. People who don’t complain oftentimes are just disappearing. We’ve called them and said, ‘Hey, why didn’t you come?’ ‘Well, I was just busy.’ You know, it wasn’t like ‘I’m mad that I felt like I was in the back of the room…’”
Pfaff points out that accessibility is also a critical issue that does not get enough attention. He asks Dan Houze of BC Live about his insights into audience accessibility, not just for digital-first events like webinars but particularly for hybrid events.
Houze narrows the accessibility issue down to consumer versus internal audiences. “I think that a lot of times the virtual shows we’re doing, or the hybrid shows or digital-first shows that we’re doing are sort of just corporate-driven and they’re sort of internal meetings,” he says. “It’s not necessarily launching a keynote for a new product or something like that.”
Lindsay agrees but contends that engagement matters no matter what the type of hybrid event, even corporate ones. “You still have to keep all the employees going in the same direction,” he says. “When you create an event where they don’t feel important, you’re not getting quite the same charge out of your corporate event.”
For a decade, from 2010-2020, the third week in January meant that television buyers, programmers, and producers met for NATPE (National Association of Television Programming Executives) in Miami. In late-2022, NATPE declared bankruptcy, and London-based C21 Media, hot off their successful Content London event in late-November, announced the launch of Content Americas, which presented a fresh look at the burgeoning Latin American content business. The inaugural event, held at the Miami Hilton Downtown from January 23-26, was sold out; a crowd of 1,500 executives gathered to do business in a post-pandemic landscape that looked vastly different than the last in-person NATPE in 2020.
One of the major inflection points in the LATAM media universe is the migration to Free Ad-Supported Streaming Television, or FAST, models, both with U.S. Latino populations and across Latin America. Wrapping up Day #2 on Wednesday, January 25th was the session ‘FAST Across the Americas: How Latin Brands Are Migrating to Free Ad-Supported Streaming TV,’ which discussed the growth of FAST models in Latin America and with U.S. Latino populations, and how advertisers and brands are collaborating on models for existing and new streaming audiences.
Left to right: Chris Pfaff, Jorge Balleste, Jasmin Rezai, Tony Kelly, Jonathan French
The OTT landscape across the Americas has, until recently, consisted mainly of operator-driven curation of video channels. Now, the FAST revolution has taken hold, and channels are being launched to support existing OTT brands, including SVOD services, to create upsell momentum and brand recognition amongst Spanish, Portuguese and English audiences alike.
Moderated by Chris Pfaff, CEO of Chris Pfaff Tech Media LLC, the session included Jasmin Rezai, vice president content distribution & partnerships, Olympusat; Tony Kelly, CEO, DMD Limited/CINDIE; Jorge Balleste, VP, content partnerships and acquisitions, Vix/Vix+, TelevisaUnivision, and Jonathan French, SVP, sales & business development, MuxIP.
Jonathan French, Chris Pfaff, Jasmin Rezai, Jorge Balleste, Tony Kelly
Pfaff kicked off the session discussing what he called ‘FAST Figures,’ including:
There are more than 1,500 FAST channels in the U.S.
Omdia has reported that FAST channel revenues will each $12bn in 2027
According to TVRev, by 2025, more money will be spent on FASTs ($33.7B or 35% of total ad spend) than on cable, broadcast or SVOD. That number will grow to $42.6B or 42% of total ad spend by 2027
According to Omdia, two of the top 10 CTV markets are in LATAM: Brazil is #2 and Mexico is #7. Will we see further regional LATAM growth in CTV in the next 3 years
In the U.S., leading FAST channels massively increased their Spanish language catalogs during the pandemic (March, 2020-Sept. 2022): Pluto from 389 to 5,529; Roku On Demand from 0 to 3,815 and Tubi from 1665 to 9,455
According to GSMA, Take-up of 4G has more than doubled across Latin America in the past 5 years, with more than 410 million connections at the end of 2021. This is projected to peak in 2024, as consumers increasingly migrate to 5G plans.
Pfaff directed the conversation to the emerging FAST strategy in LATAM, including using FAST channels to upsell viewers to premium content, as Tony Kelly acknowledged for CINDIE. Jorge Ballesta’s Vix – which encompasses more than 40,000 hours of content in all genres – became part of the discussion. Pfaff discussed the “FAST is the new cable” mantra with the panel, and even discussed how FAST is also the new “independent TV.” With a shout-out to TelevisaUnivision’s Luis de la Parra, a leader in branded content, Pfaff discussed the growth of FAST channels as a promotional vehicle.
Chris Pfaff moderated a virtual session - 'Know Your Audience: How to Use Data to Raise ROI' - during the Streaming Media Connect event, on November 15, 2023, featuring Daniel Trotta, from Warner Bros...