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Spring is coming – can user submitted content win the battle for ratings?

27 May 2016, by Informa Insights

“Winter is coming” is a metaphor understood all too well by the traditional television industry.

Large scale over-the-top platforms with their affordable anytime, anywhere convenience have an inherent advantage.

But it is their high budget powerhouse productions that are really helping them win the battle for ratings.

Queen Elizabeth while visiting the set of GOT (Source: Mirror UK)

Games of Thrones, House of Cards and other high-end dramas are gripping audiences of all ages; with lower-budget studio brands barely left in the race.

But those that can’t match up to Netflix’s recently announced $1.5 billion content budget, need not feel too dejected.

Head of Content at ITV Studios, Ben Ulm, believes that there are other – more affordable – ways to achieve ratings.

He suggests that we should all be paying close attention to user submitted content.
“People are grazers” he says.

“Nowadays we tend to prefer short and easy to digest material”.

Ulm cites the tremendous success of “Dogs do the Funniest Things” and other low-budget anthology shows, to demonstrate his point.

“We’ll happily watch these productions for hours” he states, “Because if one clip isn’t funny, the next one will be”.

Importantly, the quality of user submitted content is also rapidly increasing. The proliferation of user-generated clips has significantly raised the bar, with only the funniest, most moving or insightful clips cutting through.

“We are an Apple Z Generation ” says Ulm. “Everyone owns a camera these days and even three year olds know how to use them”.

“With media technology in the hands of so many, we may be entering a very exciting era of creative and compelling content production. Producers are accomplished at telling or documenting other people’s stories.”

“Looking ahead, I’m excited by the prospect of people telling or recording their own funny, profound, moving, dramatic, compelling stories. It’s happening already. We just need to pay attention.”

Perhaps this now signifies the arrival of spring, rather than winter, for traditional TV and smaller scale OTT platforms.


Hear more from Ben Ulm at Ovum’s forthcoming OTT TV Summit 


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