Digital platforms: the revolution is underway, and you need to be ready to adapt!

Netflix, Amazon, YouTube and dozens of other digital platforms have shaken up the domain. They are currently at the heart of debates having revolutionised the audiovisual landscape. Pascal Le Chevalier held  a captivating conference on this issue on Tuesday 3rd February in the Maison de la Culture marquee.

167 million subscribers; 190 countries reached. These are the Netflix figures for 2019. These impressive figures were revealed on Tuesday 3rd February by Pascal Le Chevalier, new media consultant at What’s Hot, at the conference on digital platforms held in the Maison de la Culture marquee. Netflix is not the only platform that exists, but it is the most exemplary to illustrate the digital revolution compared to linear TV such as France Télévision and TF1. But what impact do these platforms have? How should we react here in Oceania?

Support change

Digital platforms started appearing in 2005. The audiovisual landscape began to change and linear TV had trouble identifying with it. It should be noted that until then the broadcasters led viewers, but things changed ten years ago when viewers took power. ‘The impact of this revolution involves several points’, explains Pascal Le Chevalier to his very attentive audience. ‘TV no longer has a monopoly on image with the arrival of platforms and telephones. OTT (ed.: applications) rose to power with respect to linear TV, today indeed we can observe that all companies have launched applications. Finally, the advertising market is controlled by GAFAN (Google, Amazon, Netflix, Apple, Facebook). This advertising market is de-structuring public and private broadcasting companies.’ In 2019, time spent on the internet exceeded time spent watching television, evidence that supports this revolution. We must then go along with this change. A different dynamic: time devoted to applications is more significant and the arrival of 5G will make these practices skyrocket. Third point: advertising figures. As television stagnates, the internet is booming with two major players: Facebook and YouTube. As a result, linear TV is shifting to on-demand with for example the development of replay, significant for broadcasting companies.

Adapt or die

These subjects of discussion were fairly subdued seven years ago, today they are at the heart of the debates. So, who will win the media battle? There are two ways of looking at it and two solutions: adapt or die. Linear TV audiences are in free fall, this means adopting a position. Especially as platforms are now present at festivals. ‘A film was bought by a Disney platform for a record 17 million dollars. This shows a change in the market: platforms are real stakeholders investing in programmes’, explains Pascal Le Chevalier, but who are these new stakeholders? The Americans have conquered the most with a billion subscribers to a SVOD service (video-on-demand). But the market is global thanks to the internet, and platforms like Netflix have caught onto this since they have engaged in European countries and part of Asia. And they have adapted to the rules and regulations of each country. Amazon, with 150 million subscribers across all services (from retail to video), is also taking the lead by striving to buy the rights of for example sporting events. Enough to overshadow major groups like France Télévisions and Canal +. Two new platforms have also appeared on the landscape: Disney with a record-breaking launch at 25 million subscribers in two months, and Apple which holds no less than 250 billion dollars in cash. YouTube is also huge with a 15-billion-dollar turnover. It is impossible therefore for broadcasting companies to compete. The solutions lie elsewhere, it is key to speak to these platforms and offer programmes. And if the channels join in the game, the next five years may well open a new space for creation.

Three questions for Pascal Le Chevalier 

Why was it important to present these platforms at FIFO?

The challenge is the globalisation of the whole audiovisual world. As Oceania is extremely remote, it is important to be able to share these challenges. This is a territory which is partly French- speaking and it adheres to a Francophone economic model, this model needs to be defended. The Americans currently over-dominate; we need to work with them but also be capable of our own initiatives and therefore to present local stakeholders with all future possibilities to broaden their playing field. We cannot sit back and be confined to a French/Francophone or island window of opportunity. The world is our oyster.

It is difficult for Oceania to be visible, even more so with the imminent closure of France Ô. Do Oceanians have something to bring into play?

Yes, without a doubt. But caution is required as we did not manage to do it in Europe. And it’s even more difficult in Oceania with the various languages. Events like FIFO open people’s eyes and there is every reason to think perhaps that in the very near future, platform representatives will be there to see, understand and purchase. If that is the case, the first stage of this challenge can be achieved. However, no-one knows if it can be done.

How do you create or integrate a platform?

Substantial resources are required to create. Therefore, this is really up to established stakeholders, local broadcasting companies to unite to do something. You need to find the means and have ideas. The second stage is then for local production to liaise and to show the representatives from these platforms, who were thinking globally, who are now looking for rare gems all over the place. It’s long and arduous work but if the offering is good it will find its fans. You need to go everywhere, undertake lots of projects, and change the mentality.