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DreamWorks chief: TV industry in “new golden age”

The advent of On Demand, IPTV and OTT viewing trends has spurred the global TV industry into a new ‘golden age’, according to Eric Ellenbogen, the Co-Head of International TV & DreamWorks Classics, DreamWorks Animation.

“Today’s TV programming features the biggest stars in the entertainment industry,” said Ellenbogen during a keynote speech at the CABSAT Content Congress – a holistic, state-of-the-industry dissection presented by CABSAT, NAB Show and the former’s new Content Marketplace offering.

“TV is no longer a second-class medium, there are huge budgets and beautiful productions – we are in a new golden age and TV is thriving. The sky is not falling, the future is bright.”

With traditional or linear television channels’ historical dominance under increasing threat as global viewers turn towards the more flexible IPTV and OTT content streamed directly to handheld devices, game consoles and Smart TVs connected to broadband – models, Ellenbogen insists the entire television industry and, ultimately, viewers, will reap the benefits.

“Audiences want what they want, when they want it and on whichever device or platform they want it. If linear TV channels or content producers cannot provide ubiquitous content that is highly-adaptable and affordable, viewers will naturally find it elsewhere,” said Ellenbogen.

“As international viewing habits change, consumers are watching more TV content than ever via subscription services, On Demand and OTT products. Even in this On Demand and anywhere, anytime environment, linear TV channels are still a relevant business. Studio distributors must empower their linear TV partners to monetise and be adaptive because although the development of new technologies is widely aiding content creation, the fundamental key to viewer engagement will always be storytelling.”

With recent figures from Nielsen revealing 60-70 per cent of global television viewers with access to On Demand services watch multiple episodes in a single sitting, Ellenbogen believes the relatively new concept of binge watching is here to stay.

“TV remains a discovery vehicle and individual channels are the cornerstone for content discovery,” he said. “Binge watching is a product of OTT delivery mechanisms such as Netflix, which has committed US6 billion to new content in 2016, while HBO has committed $1.8 billion to content creation this year. There is extraordinary investment in content development for television.”

After launching a dedicated, 24/7 animation channel in Asia earlier this year where DreamWorks will dovetail its prized animation products – Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar, How to Train Your Dragon and The Croods – with content acquired and produced locally, Ellenbogen believes the Middle East and Africa represent strategic growth areas for global content producers and owners.

“Our animation channel was built for the smaller screen, largely for mobile,” he said. “We really believe in this market; there are incredible opportunities because of the penetration of Internet-ready devices. DreamWorks produces content which fits the entire family viewing experience and we believe our family-themed content will resonate with viewers in this part of the world.”

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