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With traditional advertising dollars drying up, how can content creators make money from a seemingly shrinking pot? How can the creation of high-quality content that is exportable and discoverable be supported in an increasingly global marketplace? Do kickstarter campaigns, embedded advertising and platforms like Rumble.com redefine content monetization in this digital era? This session focuses on examining content funding and monetization models in the context of the current international landscape.
Monetizing Canadian video content is still difficult in the increasingly global marketplace. Historically, we’ve been focused on good content, but not so much on aggressive marketing, monetizing, branding, and discoverability. Our regulated system has served us well in over-the-top video content, but times are changing. We need our high-quality content that’s exportable and discoverable – shows like ‘Saving Hope’, ‘Orphan Black’, ‘Book of Negroes’ – to be supported and monetized worldwide. In this video, Jocelyn Hamilton, president of eOne Television, explains why she’s optimistic about this question. Companies like eOne are providing the opportunity for content creators to reach more platforms, like Yahoo, MSN, and AOL. The panel explains that, although the competition is strong, broadcasting networks and promotion from Telefilm and CMF are enabling us to package content in a way that will sell around the world but remain powered by Canada. See Hamilton reveal the strategies.
President and CEO, Canada Media Fund
Director of National Promotions and Communications, Telefilm Canada
President, Canada, Entertainment One Television
“How can the creation of high-quality content that’s exportable and discoverable be supported, and more importantly, monetized in this increasingly global marketplace?”
“In the last 50 years or so in this country, we’ve developed an ecosystem that’s primarily focused on the development and production of great content. The regulatory environment required broadcasting or distribution of this content to be aired often at a time and in a defined timeframe, or screened in major centers, and then everyone was on to the next project. Generally speaking, our historical behavior has had less focus on aggressive marketing, monetizing, branding, and discoverability certainly of Canadian content in the global marketplace.”
“The world too around us has changed. The digital revolution has opened up unprecedented opportunities for content everywhere and OTT appears to be with us to stay. Choice is unlimited in this tsunami of available content, so where and how will Canada be found?”
“Advertising, as the dominant revenue, has been seriously challenged in both traditional TV and digital channels. The limitations of the advertising model have forced industry players to rely on several models of monetizing strategy simultaneously. User-generated content through social platforms and OTTs has circumvented these established models. This has resulted of course in more exploration and still greater fragmentation.”
“That’s where we’ve really got to talk about flexibility, opening up the ability for us to package things in a way that will sell around the world but is powered by Canada.”
“It’s getting better. Telefilm and the CMF have done a lot of work together around the promotion and accessibility of content everywhere.”
“Canadian independent feature films…yes, this year we had two films nominated for Oscars. Boy, that goes a long way in terms of Canadians finally seeing what is Canadian.”
Valerie: All of you in the comfortable chairs. If there’s any snoring or snoozing, I’ll be sure to point you out. Gary Maavara just advanced warning on that. Welcome to this wonderful discussion on monetizing content. For those of you I don’t know, my name is Valerie Creighton. I have the privilege of serving as the president and CEO at the Canada Media Fund. We are funded by the Government of Canada. Helen Kennedy is here, our great representative. Helen quit taking notes and take around and applause. Two I think, I don’t think they’re more of our BDU funders, Rogers and Quebecor, Serge and Pam are here with us as well. We have some great people here. We had a wonderful advanced call on this. We’re thinking we might be burnt out, but we’re going to try not to be for your benefit.
With us today are to my left, Chris Pavlovski who’s the CEO of Rumble.com, Fran Accinelli whom most of you know, who I got to get her new title right, Director of National Promotions and Communications Telefilm Canada. It’s almost as hard as “discoverability”. Jocelyn Hamilton of course, president of eOne Television in Canada. Welcome. Just a couple of thoughts as we discussed on the panel. I thought I’d just give a couple of sentences to set the stage for our debate. As you all know, in the last 50 years or so in this country, we’ve developed an ecosystem that’s primarily focused on the development and production of great content.
The regulatory environment required broadcasting or distribution of this content to be aired often at a time and in a defined timeframe or screened in major centers, and then everyone was on to the next project. Generally speaking, our historical behavior has had less focus on aggressive marketing, monetizing, branding, and discoverability certainly of Canadian content in the global marketplace. However, that’s certainly has been changing. Our regulated system has served us well and our content is increasingly celebrated, recognized, and sold all over the world. Come on in, take the comfortable chairs. Just don’t fall asleep. Everybody okay? Yeah, there’s lots of room up there.
The world too around us has changed. The digital revolution has opened up unprecedented opportunities for content everywhere and OTT appears to be with us to stay. Choice is unlimited in this tsunami of available content, so where and how will Canada be found? Advertising, as the dominant revenue, has been seriously challenged both in traditional TV and digital channels, the limitations of the advertising model have forced industry players to rely on several models of monetizing strategy simultaneously. User generated content through social platforms and OTTs have circumvented these established models. This has resulted of course in more exploration and still greater fragmentation. In the digital economy, the dive use concept of free access prevails.
Having accessed to a product is gradually replacing the appeal of ownership. This however doesn’t necessarily help pay for capital intensive premium content. How can the creation of high quality content that’s exportable and discoverable be supported and more importantly monetized in this increasingly global marketplace? These really smart experienced people are going to answer that question for us today, right?
Jocelyn: We’re going to solve it all.
Valerie: You’re going to solve it all. Chris, I’m going to start with you. Just give us your views on Rumble itself and the opportunities that a service like yours or site like yours can provide for content discoverability and new producers.
Chris: Currently the option for a social video creator or a user generated creator, however you like to look at it is to go to YouTube, upload your content or go to another platform like Vine, Instagram, and hope for the best. With the Rumble, what we’re doing for content creators is in addition to helping them monetize, but we’re giving them the opportunity to reach not just one single platform but gets the platforms they normally can’t get to. Like your Yahoos, your MSNs, your AOLs, of course Rumble and YouTube and all the other platforms from Facebook to Instagram, et cetera. On a single central platform, we’re helping creators, social video creators for the most part, get to all these different places and intelligently get to the right places.
They can maximize their distribution and the discoverability into the right platforms, rather than just putting it into a general audience and hoping that someone is going to stumble upon it on YouTube through a search and then hopefully an editorial team at Yahoo is going to pick it up. If that’s all a luck, why not just take that video to the right place at the right time? That’s what Rumble is doing for content creators in terms of helping their discoverability.
Valerie: You want to talk a little bit about what’s happened, what’s your success around that?
Chris: Yeah. We started about 2 and a half years ago, October 2013. In the last 6 months, we’ve really made a lot of noise. Recently according to comScore, we’re now #41 in the US for video views ahead of the likes of Amazon, Ellen, BuzzFeed, which is pretty significant in the US market. We’re really helping creators in terms of getting their distribution and obviously monetizing it as the best we possibly can.
Valerie: Okay. Jocelyn, eOne’s got a big footprint, lots of content, great success all over the world. How does this whole question of digitization play into that or does it? What are your thoughts around what’s happening around us with our premium content and the new world that Chris just described?
Jocelyn: Well, I was just going to say in relation to what you’re talking about, there is an array of different content from the creator-driven, social media type content to the high-end HBO content. There’s no reason why it all can’t live together. I always worry and I guess I don’t want us to lose sight of the buzzy aspect of the digital world and I’ll quote , un quote that because I’ll talk about that in a second, that we all do some paradigm shift over there when forgetting that. Let’s not forget that this industry that we have built for over 30 years is now just getting their legs. We are in 100 plus countries around the world. Our kids’ content is all over the world, on every single US network.
We have built it and propped it up so that it is internationally viable, so we are now being seen as a great country that has built up its content. You don’t want to lose sight of that just because we think that there’s an individual that can also be making content. I often say so Lilly Singh, is everywhere right now. You’ve seen her on the buses. She’s got a big promotion going on. The only people making money off of that is Lilly Singh, and YouTube, which is not a Canadian company. That’s fantastic for Lilly Singh, I think that should exist, but that in itself does not an industry make. We employ over 600,000 people in this country and we have a big industry that is doing from unscripted reality content all the way to high end content and delivering all around the world.
I mean I think something we’ve talked about a lot is that people don’t know, even the consumers don’t know what Canadian content actually exists. People don’t know that Saving Hope is Canadian and doing 1.3 million in ratings every week. Some people don’t know that Orphan Black is Canadian. People don’t know Love It or List It in Property Brothers are Canadian. It’s shocking sometimes, right? There is a misnomer sometimes about what it is, but we have to not lose sight of the bigger aspect of the ecosystem. Certainly a company like eOne distributes all over the world and 100 plus countries for Rookie Blue, for Saving Hope. You’ve got Book of Negros which is winning awards all over the world and Orphan Black, I can speak of other companies.
Orphan Black, I mean what these shows do is it changes the perception of what kind of content is coming out of Canada and I’ll say powered by Canada. Our system has allowed us to compete at that level and allowed us to commit. We just need to continue to be able to compete at that level because now everyone who’s been enviable of our system has perked up and started to copy it. Now you look at some of the states that have brought in tax credits that are now in the same vein as ours. You can see what some of the other countries around the world have tried to do to copy our system. Now we’re competing in that playing field.
The competition is very high and we need to continue to allow ourselves to be up at that level to compete at that level, so that when people say there’s 400 scripted series out there right now and there’s an abundance, we need to be in those 400 series because very easily we could not.
Valerie: Very easily you could not is the key there. Talk a little bit about the could not. Like when eOne is looking at their content, developing it, taking around the world, do you have a specific strategy that goes beyond the traditional broadcast sale to country? Do you have a strategy that would encompass the digital piece, the online piece, the marketing even of that content in that way or is still really distinct in the process that you think about when you’re looking at a scripted series?
Jocelyn: The Canadian broadcasters are extremely supportive, but at all times, even early, early on … You have to go back and make sure that we’re protecting the creation, the fostering of the development process of making sure that content is being created before it can actually be accessed somewhere some time on a platform, right? That’s part of the whole process that we can’t lose sight of, but we have offices in LA. We have offices in London and Australia. The walls are coming down. It is definitely a global world, but it stems here in Canada. We’re proud that it stems here in Canada, but we’re always looking out okay, well what’s the rest of the world looking for. We talked about that the rest of the world is looking for procedurals, but the US is not right now.
The US is looking for serialize, the rest of the world is maybe there’s no overabundance of it. We have a portfolio of different development to ensure that we’re keeping a global eye on what the rest of the world wants, knowing that Canada has a big piece and a big play at the early stages. The broadcasters are understanding of that too and they’re looking at well what do you think would work sometimes. That’s where as we talked through this process of, and Mélanie Joly is coming out with everything’s on the table, well that’s where we really got to talk about flexibility, opening up the ability for us to package things in a way that will sell around the world but is powered by Canada. Do you know what I mean?
What do I mean by that? Right now you can’t get tax credits by being on an OTT. You just said OTTs are not going away. We all know it exists. Yeah, you can’t get a tax credit if we had a commissioned show on Shomi or Crave or Netflix. No tax credits. We need to open up that discussion because those are platforms that exists and yet it’s fully 10 out of 10 Canadian or 8 out of 10 Canadian and you can’t get tax credits. Just things like that need to be in the discussion for us to have the propped up positioning of a Canadian show but with a global view from a content perspective.
Valerie: Okay. Before we go to the boxing arena of regulated, non-regulated OTT accessing, tax credits and the CMF, before we go there and get everybody involved in that debate, Fran we’ve talked for a long time about what I always say is we’ve been very deficient in this country, similar to what you said Jocelyn in positioning our success, who we are, both for our own country, our own citizens, and the world. That is changing. It’s getting better. Telefilm and the CMF have done a lot of work together around the promotion and accessibility of content everywhere. Thoughts on all of that development, where are today, did it work, did it not work, what do we need to do to make it better in the future.
Francesca: That’s a really big question. I feel like we’re at the beginning stage, in all honestly and independent came feature film is so much further behind television right now. I think Canadian television really is now being seen by Canadians and by the world as being an incredible contributor to the global excellent content marketplace. Canadian independent feature film outside of a few, yes this year we had 2 films nominated for Oscars. Boy that goes a long way in terms of Canadians finally seeing what is Canadian. Jocelyn and I had lunch together and you can talk about Room people will say, “Oh, that’s a Canadian Irish co-production.” That’s because Canadian and non-Canadian media were driving that home and it was a big part of what the producers did, what we did whenever we talked about it.
We wanted to make sure that people understood that that was a Canadian film. My mission I guess is at Telefilm is twofold. One, how do we take existing feature films and keep pushing the boundary so that people can be able to see them, so how do I make them discoverable. Well, under my banner, I finance all of the film festivals across Canada and I finance initiatives to help leverage all of that. National Canadian Film Day, how can we take one day, have 350 screenings of Canadian film and how can we take that one moment so that people go, “Oh, that’s a Canadian film. Oh I’m excited. I want to be part of that community.” That’s part of how I’m doing it.
The other side though, and this is the more difficult side is continuing in the development.
How do we actually educate the filmmakers to understand what their role is? This morning, there was a panel and we talked about music. They now have to have a brand. When I talked to filmmakers and I say so what’s your brand, what are the assets you’re going to have, it’s like I’m insulting them. I have to be very careful how I talked about it. Frankly if you’re making a feature film right now, right at the moment of conception, you have to start thinking not just about it being a feature film but what platforms you’re going to put it on, who is in your film, who’s writing your film, does the director have a profile, does the actor have a profile, have they done television, what are the other things that I can use to help push this film and make it resonate, who’s the audience, who am I writing it for?
None of them do that, and that’s for me like as someone who’s trying to be a promoter and maybe you can talk to this Chris. That’s for me a huge challenge because they just want …
Valerie: Well, they want to go to the next film.
Valerie: Lilly Singh is a brand.
Valerie: Are there things that we can learn from … I mean just it’s so still divided. You talked about the traditional model and how we need to make sure we have enough money in the system to do this incredible content because I would agree with you. Canada has finally started to make its mark. You’ve got a system where you’re taking some of this content to numerous places on behalf of producers, not this content necessarily but different new creators.
Francesca: We will bring this content? If I bring you Canadian feature films, will you put it on Rumble?
Valerie: Well, I mean that’s the question …
Valerie: Where can the cross-fertilization start to happen? Because I remember 5 years ago when Minister Moore announced the CMF and the hue and cry across the country about the ridiculous notion of content anywhere, any place, any time. It turned out to be very prescient thinking about how the consumer market is going to access content and so that big divide kind of shifted. Now we’re in a slightly different place. What can we learn from each other? What are your thoughts on how to… I guess I’ll ask you taking what our success stories are into that other world or does that make sense even?
Chris: Yeah. I think you got to step back and make the distinction that there’s a big difference between feature films that have huge production budgets and the social video, people who are able to literally just sit in there in front of their camera on their computer and generate these massive audience without any budget. Yes, I do believe there is a convergence happening between the feature films and the social video, but the problem with the social video right now and video online in general is the way it’s monetized. If you’re on YouTube, you’re not making much money for the audience that you’re generating.
It really doesn’t make any economic sense for a feature film to be sitting on YouTube unless you generate a massive audience and even then, you’re stepping back and saying, “Wow, if I had this on a different platform with a different monetization structure, I would have made a lot more.” Then you had the Netflixes and the Shomis and the Craves and all these guys come into the industry and offer something that was a better way to monetize digitally, through subscription models. I believe that’s helped bring a little bit more convergence into the market, but we’re still not there in terms of social video and feature films.
I believe we will get there and we’ll also see it all together as we get smarter about where we’re placing our content and who’s watching that content and then bringing in the brands to associate it, because in advertising model, I think it will work. I think it will prevail. Right now it’s not there. It prevails on television. It’s just not digitally there yet, but that will happen and that will be able to translate digitally for the feature films or television. They’ll be able to monetize online. We just got to get a lot smarter in how we monetize and bring the brands in appropriately.
Valerie: Jocelyn are …
Jocelyn: Yeah. Well, I was just going to say the way it’s best used now between film and your content is television and I say right now it’s being used as more of a marketing and promotional tool. You use social, whether it’s video, whether it’s people tweeting. It’s to help promote and get the word out there because of course that’s where a lot of people are. That’s where our audiences are. It’s fan-based. You certainly from day one now and probably because of how you’ve brought that in though of the DM component and everyone has started very early having a social and a digital media or nonlinear plan from day one at development and then as you’re going into production. You’re shooting webepisodes or you’re shooting little behind the scenes. We just did a theme song. We just did a music video for it.
All that kind of stuff will all go up on different platforms as a tool to promote getting back to the show because that’s where we’re monetizing, right? Right now that’s how it is. It doesn’t mean it won’t be in the future, but right now it’s a great promotional opportunity. We only have one of the downfalls in this country compared to … I don’t know how many of you were at the VR at James’ VR thing yesterday, but I mean isn’t it amazing to see what Fox did with that promotional marketing campaign? I mean, to have those kinds of dollars in this country would be amazing, but we don’t. We use every tool we can possibly have to just get people to find, – here’s discoverability – to find our shows even on television.
Francesca: I think it’s also and Val you’ve seen it in terms of our production budgets, it’s 3% or less in terms of the money that’s going towards marketing. That’s problematic. It’s really hard, even in terms of a $150,000 feature film. I can tell you with the micro-budget program, one of the things we did is we said that “10% of your budget has to go to marketing” and then they come back and go “Oh my God, but I need to put it on the screen, like I can’t put it to marketing.” We say, “Okay, guess what we’re doing to do? We’re going to give you $7000 more dollars to go out and find a digital strategist or a marketing strategist to help you.” They’re not equipped yet to understand where or how they can use it.
This is why I’ve made up my mission to start having them better understand how to use data, how to find your audience to empower them. When I had the privilege to work at the CMF, that was a big part of when we started with the CMF, making people not feel afraid of how you can find your audience and cultivate a fan base. It’s not a bad thing. Where I’ve really seen the success, fine enough, were with the people that were most afraid which is documentary. I mean documentary is one of the number one viewed piece of content on Netflix and part of that is because millennials love to learn that way. If we’re all going for the millennials, then how do we educate the content producers. This is where I think, in fact, the people creating that social content, it’s a human truth.
They are just out there showing something that is them. Then how do I promote films or help people promote their films to show what their human truth is and help them find their audience, but that takes money. If I want to go and have Buzzfeed endorse me, that’s 50 grand. Well, 50 grand is a lot of money if you’re not even paying yourselves to be able to produce a film. I think we have some major obstacles. Does it mean then that we double the budgets and we say half goes to your film but we give them specific money that goes over and above? If you were here this morning, Facebook, Twitter, all of them, if you want any discoverability on there, you got to pay. There is very little organic reach now, so imagine that suddenly.
Before, you actually had this ability to be able to have a post and it could potentially go viral. Now boy, if there’s a lot of dark posting that goes on, there are so many other things that go on to help create that promotional infrastructure. I don’t know how a $200,000 or a $300,000 film, that’s a very small film for a very niche audience. I don’t know how, this all… I would love to have you guys hack it at the end, but how do you find that market, how do you go in and is it relying on the algorithms or the data or multiple platform or you say Val. Let’s just put it on every single platform that exist because I think somebody will discover it then if you have no choice but to find it everywhere.
Valerie: I don’t want to turn this into a feature film panel, because that’s got its whole set of obstacles in this country in terms of how people are consuming content because as we all know if you’re an average Canadian and you want to go out and see a movie and you go to a theater, you’re probably not going to pick a Canadian film. Why? Because you can’t find it because it’s only 2% of the screens available for Canadian film content and secondly, you’re going to go to the rom com or the new kids’ movies or the action adventure because it’s going to cost you 150 bucks by the time you pay parking and the babysitter to have this experience. Picking a micro-budget Canadian feature film is not likely going to be your first choice, but we also know people are wanting that content and are watching it on TV.
I guess I don’t know, I don’t know about you guys, I’m getting a bit confused. You say there’s monetization possibilities. You say it’s very difficult to now get them there because all the big online platforms are going to charge. Jocelyn’s point of view is that but they are being used for driving back and marketing too. Again in your experience because you’re dealing with some of those new content creators, how is the monetization of it working? Can you talk to us about that a little bit?
Chris: Yeah, absolutely. It varies a lot depending on the platform you’re with. Obviously Facebook at this point right now is a really good tool to get in front of an audience, but you’re not going to make anything. That upsets a lot of creators, but they have no choice. What we’ve seen in our experience is that you have to put it everywhere. Our strategy is that we embrace putting the content in as many places as possible regardless if you can monetize it or not, because if you get that discoverability on Facebook, you will get audience on the other platforms looking for it and then that’s where you’re going to monetize it. Yeah, you might miss out on a lot of viewers that watch it on Facebook, but you also need to put yourself in a position for the future when they do turn monetization that you’re there to capitalize on that.
Our strategy is always to distribute it on as many platforms as possible and depending on the platform that you go on, it will vary in how you monetize. With Rumble, obviously we control how we monetize that so the experience is we’re trying to make it a lot better than anywhere else. We’re able to monetize at a metric of like 10X than you would on YouTube. YouTube, you’re traditionally looking at monetizing a video at about a dollar to $2 after the entire fill rate. It’s effectively a dollar to $2 per thousand viewers. If you can bring that audience onto a different platform let’s say MSN or Rumble, you’re able to monetize that audience at a much higher rate, upwards of 10 to 15. Now that might not be the same as television and we might not be there yet, but 5, 6 years ago, these social creators couldn’t get that 10 to 15 on MSN.
Now they have an ability to do that. The gap is closing. I don’t know how long it will take, but it seems to be rapidly closing at this point right now. As these other platforms join the foray like Facebook and they are a lot smarter on monetizing, we might be able to see metrics $20 to $30 and then this gap just gets closer and closer and closer where then all of a sudden, production, high quality content, if you can find the audience on these platforms, it might actually make sense. Go ahead.
Valerie: No, go ahead.
Chris: Yeah, the way we see monetization happening, it really depends on where, it ranges from 0 to 20 to 30, but it’s increasing and it’s increasing every year. I think you need to position the film that you’re making or if you’re a creator, you have to be very agnostic of where you put it and you have to build for the future. I think that’s the key and be in the right place and the right time. 2, 3 years from now if you have that audience and you build it, you might not make anything today but that’s an investment 3 years down the road with these platforms.
Valerie: I have a whole bunch of questions about all access anywhere, rights and a bunch of other things. Jocelyn’s going to respond and then I just want to check in with these guys and see what questions they have.
Jocelyn: Well, my only comment to that is that again I’m going to go back to the Industry comment in that we just want to make sure that companies like yourselves which is Canadian that we continue to figure out ways to ensure that the dollars that are being made are being put back into Canada and not into the hands of all foreign owners. Rather than just the creator making money, that’s fine. Right now with distribution companies like eOne or Tricon or Nelvana or Temple Street, Boat Rocker, for distribution companies, they are Canadian companies so the revenue that they are making is being put back into the system by investing in development and it goes full circle.
Right now if it’s a creator and it’s all foreign companies making the money and the revenue is going in their hands, we’re not putting it back into the system. Somehow again between now and the 5 years or now, we have to be smart enough to figure out how to make sure that that is somehow being put back into our own system so that Canada is propped up again.
Jocelyn: Can I just one …
Francesca: I was just going to say I think my only, and we’ve talked about this. Our only concern I guess in general is if this generation that we now see don’t want to pay for content but they want really high quality content, then what do we look like as funding agencies? We financed 80% of the feature films that are out there. You financed the majority of the Canadian television and digital media content that’s out there. Where will that gap come? I mean we’re still looking at digital dimes right now. I think it’s growing, but our television series cost a significant amount of money for one episode.
Yes, we can get to monetization, but if we’re going to move into this landscape of everything on every platform and we’d be creating more for OTT, what is that funding structure look like? We don’t have to answer it here, but it’s one of the things that preoccupies me.
Valerie: Well, the last time I was in a room and somebody said millennials don’t want to pay, there are a bunch of millennials in the room who ripped the head off that person and said that’s ridiculous, of course we will pay if we get what we want, when we want it. There’s a whole bunch of assumptions in this. Okay, we’re going to turn to you guys. There’s a question here and a question here. Do we have a mic that we need to give them?
Speaker 1: Yeah.
Valerie: Okay, perfect. Thank you.
Michelle: Hi there. Am I on?
Valerie: Oh …
Chris: We can hear you.
Valerie: One second. We can hear you.
Michelle: Okay, perfect.
Valerie: There you go.
Michelle: There we go.
Valerie: Can you just introduce yourself? It will just help us all.
Michelle: Sure. Sure thing. I’m Michelle McIver. I’m a digital media producer and I work a lot with linear producers on their interactive content. One of the things that I’d love to throw into the discussion, right Jocelyn you mentioned the importance of having digital when you’re looking at what your series is going to be or you having that top of mind. What are you guys seeing from the interactive side of things? Looking at games and game development with your kids series or the kind of stuff that secret location is doing with VR, when you’re selling these internationally, what kind of value is being put on digital content?
Jocelyn: That’s a good question. Well, I can say from my broadcast days and production days that it’s basically add on. It’s free. It’s almost an expectation now, oh and so what digital assets do you have going with that as you’re selling your show, right? At the moment, it’s not like you get some huge amount of value for having said that. It’s an offer. It’s what you’re offerings trying to get your show seen out there and you’re saying, “But look we have all of these things.” Again luckily enough in the Canadian system, we’ve got Bell Fund. We’ve got all these other funds that help us and CMF digital that help us get that made so that we can offer it to the world.
Michelle: Yeah, yeah, I find it interesting though because there’s a lot more accountability on the digital media producers at showing “okay, how is this going to benefit the project, how are we going to make some money off of it?” If you have something in the App store, you could be looking at potentially monetizing there, but it’s just making sure that those who are doing those kind of producing is really meeting the expectations I guess you could say from the funders who are helping support it. It’s a bit of a challenge, but yeah.
Jocelyn: Again, it is a challenge and everyone has tried everything. We’ve tried second screen games. Everybody’s tried a lot of things so it’s definitely still an experimental stage with some of it making a little bit of money maybe here and here, but it’s still promotion more than anything. Games is a great example on kids’ show. Some of those games are like the number one games on the Apps and they’re Canadian and they’ve been made by fantastic producers like yourselves. They’re top of the charts beating some of the US games that maybe came up with those shows, but what it does is it helps promote kids to go back and watch the show. That’s the honest truth. It’s generating lots of views and lots of game play, but it’s not necessarily generating money it doesn’t mean down the road…
Valerie: Get your answer?
Valerie: I have a whole bunch of views on the accountability of digital versus traditional TV, but that’s a different panel. You have another question.
Jen: Hi, thank you. I’m Jen Sunnerton, owner of Moko Media. I help companies tell their stories in interesting ways other than PSAs, but then a side project is on the social media platform. It’s been concerning over the course of the conference because I see this massive polarization between high-end production and the thing that has put Canada on the map over the years. We don’t want to lose that of course, but then I find social media has been dismissed to cats and shameless self-promotion. There is such a platform there if you think of Business Insider and the videos that they’re creating and the dialogue they’re creating.
I feel like that’s being completely overlooked right now in Canada and I’m just curious, especially to Chris, can there be more substance online because that’s what I’m producing right now. I haven’t heard that represented at all in any of the panels so far.
Chris: Yeah, that’s a huge component of our business. Actually a lot of the creators that we work with are in that social media space similar to the Business Insider making videos that are very tailored to each social platform. For example, Little Things which is probably I think the second largest Facebook publisher. One of them is Canadian by the way, but now in New York. They tailor every video they make just like Buzzfeed on Facebook to engage the audience in the best way possible. They’ve created a $50 million business out of that, out of this little bit of content. The video side, they did start off on content like Buzzfeed that’s very touchy and emotional and really resonates with a specific audience, but it’s now all coming into the video. It’s not your vloggers on YouTube.
It’s actual production produced content, whether it’s quick 30-second clip of how to make this or that seems to be trend. Two years ago, it’s cats and dogs. Now it’s how to make a spaghetti really quickly. It changes all the time, but yeah there’s a massive business opportunity there. I’m watching it. We are distributing that and we’re seeing which platforms that really works on. There is production value in that and they’re high quality. The cost though is significantly lower than a feature film or television. I think they’re changing the game in a lot of ways because they’re bringing down the costs in a dramatic way, but able to monetize with an ROI now, online.
This is a perfect example of how they’re converging the two spaces, the high quality output- short, for the time being and engaging a massive audience that’s very niche and very targeted.
Jen: That sort of short format storytelling, there’s still a production value. You can still look beautiful. It can be photographically driven. Jocelyn you spoke to the point of the concern of not going to that revenue stream not being reinvested, but as a lean and mean content producer who’s turning this out and trying to feed and appetite of a daily turnout for content for this veracious appetite in a niche market, you’re turning that right back into content and it can be so cost effective as oppose to a major production, right?
Jocelyn: Absolutely. As I said at the very beginning, the ecosystem should include that and all the way to high end. No one should be saying to should be anything in between but to not lose sight of the full scope of the ecosystem.
Valerie: Is your point the connection between the high-end traditional great TV feature film series and how to deepen that content experience in some of the digital online platforms so that at the end of the day, it drives more audience back to the original source? Was that your point or not?
Jen: Well, I guess the question is … Sorry, I guess the question is as we build forward that I understand right now yes, we capture an audience through social for instance and we drive them and we create that community and we build a following for our higher end productions. I would also argue or I’m hoping because that’s what I’m building right now is that there’s a space for storytelling and a monetization that’s possible whether that’s through a bit of branded content as Chris alluded to there. What is the architecture to build that? I think that should be self-sustaining and I think there is a model for that, but it’s not really being explored and then maybe if the funding can follow that to help reach a critical mass and get that following before the monetization and the high numbers happen. Okay.
Chris: There is, there’s a model. I don’t think that world has utilized it the way they have. I watched feature films that have huge audiences on Facebook. If you do employ that strategy, yeah that would be a massive opportunity to monetize and make significant revenue. If you do, that’s the proper storytelling on the social channels and keep it very targeted. I completely agree with you. I think that’s a huge opportunity for that industry to take advantage of.
Francesca: I mean one of the things that I’ve been musing with too is I feel we’re in a place now where when you have an idea, you can actually make a choice as to where you want to tell that idea. Are you going to tell it in short form online? Is it going to be a feature film? Is it going to be an app? Is it going to be a game? Is it going to be a television? Is it going to be all of them? I think that’s what I’m most excited about because you don’t have to be one thing now. You don’t have to say I am a filmmaker and only be a filmmaker or I’m going to do television series. That’s where I would love to see this landscape move. I think what excites me about these platforms is there’s really no barrier and speaking as a culture of bureaucrat, I think we have a lot of barriers in terms of what you can do, what you can’t do.
You have to fit in a box, you have to do this, you have to do that. We’re trying to lessen that a little bit, but to get a lot of these subsidies, there are a lot of things to do. You mentioned tax credits. If it’s a bigger feature film or some of the television series, you have to have a broadcaster, you have to have a distributor. There are certain …
Speaker 2: Are we on fire?
Valerie: I don’t think we’re that hot in that room, are we? It didn’t feel that hot
Speaker 1: Seriously we didn’t feel that hot.
Valerie: Okay, let’s find out what it is.
Speaker 2: I’ll go find out.
Valerie: Thank you.
Speaker 1: I hate deadlines. Finding proposals.
Valerie: It’s Netflix and Amazon weighing in with their point of view, stopping everything. We got to keep talking until we’re told we’re on fire, if you’re okay with that. Gary?
Gary: Hi, I’m Gary Maavara. Just an old grump in the back of the room.
Valerie: At least you’re not asleep with that comfortable chair. I don’t think it’s going to help. I think it’s coming out of this speaker.
Speaker 2: I like that she’s locking us in the room.
Pam: I know.
Francesca: This is actually being filmed. It’s like one of those commercials where they’re going to see how we react.
Valerie: Everybody okay? Can we hear Gary? Can we hear you? Try…
Gary: I hope so.
Gary: On the subject of tax credits, we have …
Valerie: It’s a false alarm. Everybody calm down. It’s a false alarm.
Speaker 2: Yeah. No need to evacuate. They’re just …
Valerie: Perfect. Okay Gary, let’s give it a shot.
Gary: Okay. I’m going to go up to the hotel later and have a real review of them on their risk management behaviors and processes, but that’s another story. Probably as part of this policy review and we’ve had a lot of discussion in various provincial and federal jurisdictions about funding and things like tax credits and that sort of thing. Jocelyn you raised the issue of expanding the ambit and I guess I’ll ask the question and make the point that in all of these programs, there are a number of explicit elements that you have to meet and they’re also some implicit elements that one has to meet. I’ll call the implicit element is that there is some benefit that’s being derived by the jurisdiction as a result of either this funding or this tax credit.
You brought up the issue of OTT which just happens to align with the deadline of May 18th next week on Cavco I put to you that maybe as we think about expanding to OTT in the context of …
Valerie: God almighty.
Gary: In the context of status and benefit that what about having a notion that you can expand the definition to include OTT, but it has to be a Canadian OTT. For example, 2 of the 3 names that you mentioned earlier …
Speaker 2: Shomi and Crave. Yeah.
Speaker 3: On the way. Please do not use the elevator to remain calm. Standby for further instructions. May I have your attention please. May I have your attention please. This is hotel management. The alarm has been activated in the building. The Toronto Fire Department has been notified and it’s on their way. Please do not use the elevator to remain calm. Standby for further instructions.
Valerie: Who at this conference pulled the fire is what we’re going to find out after this. Okay. Since you pointed your question Gary to Jocelyn, we’ll start with your response.
Jocelyn: Hey, well look it’s a good debate because I said earlier “powered by Canada and getting out to the world”. If we’re in a global business and let’s say there’s a show. I’m just playing it out, but there’s a show that literally is fully Canadian in every respect that we currently now know what that is. In every respect it’s Canadian, yet, and I’m going to play this out. Netflix wants to commission it. You know Netflix does worldwide, yet everything about that show is Canadian. Should we not allow it to be part of the system and be out there. Netflix worldwide, Canadian show, Canadian creator, Canadian director, Canadian actors, Canadian dah, dah, dah? I’m going through the process.
Would we not say you know what … Because the initial reason why tax credits were supposed to be attached to linear was because it needed to be proven that it was viable. It was a viable piece of content and that was the initial reason for that link, right? Now what is it that makes something viable when we talk about all the platforms? So long as we’re creating and fostering Canadian driven content and we are powered by Canada and we’re proud to have it out there in the world, why can’t it be part of the system? That’s just the debate. I’m not …
Gary: I’ll take the opposite position on that as you would expect me to do is that in any tax credit or funding situation, there are 2 players and they each derive a benefit. There is the platform derives a benefit and the producer derives a benefit. What’s implicit in that is that there’s also a contribution back economically or otherwise. I’m not focusing just on Netflix but just the notion is that if there is no benefit monitoring status, contribution, just nothing, it’s out there in the cloud, does that really achieve the goal that governments are looking for in terms of the benefit?
Valerie: Okay, now we’re getting into the Minister’s consultation which also is not the topic of this, but to add to Gary’s point, it’s I think as Jocelyn mentioned, it’s part of this upcoming debate. We say we’re producing this great content in Canada through our regulatory system which is what has built it, what has given Canada its success globally and worldwide and we are in the global market. Netflix and the foreign OTTs are in the country. I think Amazon is coming down the road pretty quick, so they’re in the country. They are licensing. They are paying production budgets. We’ve seen examples of that. I think the first one was between where Rogers was the Canadian broadcaster accessed the CMF envelope.
Speaker 3: May I have your attention please. May I have your attention please.
Valerie: It’s not a false alarm. Only if you speak will you get our attention.
Francesca: He’s going to comment on OTT.
Valerie: Netflix came in heavily, heavily in the production budget. They worked out the distribution windowing …
Speaker 3: Elevator service will resume shortly.
Valerie: Everybody okay now? Are you feeling better that we’re not locked in a basement room about to be torsed? Sorry. They came in, everybody worked it out. It’s in season 2. What does that mean to all of us? I mean the frustration in the country is, as you rightly point out Gary, we’ve had this fantastic system where a certain segment of our industry has been required to pay in. Another segment is coming in over the top and it’s not required to pay in. We all saw what happened on the tax of Netflix discussion, so what is the solution? I think it’s a question before us all. It was at the CMPA largely in debate. We’ve got great Canadian services now. As we heard from David this morning, Shomi is exclusive to Canada. That’s the only territory that that particular service serves for all kinds of reasons.
My question is if we limit to the Canadian OTTs which is I mean obviously my opinion. This is just my own opinion. It’s nothing to do with the CMF, is the CMF fund should be able to trigger content that Shomi and Crave and our Canadian OTTs are actually doing, especially if they’re original series. Why wouldn’t we? There are services. They’re 10 out of 10. They’re great content. If we want to drive audiences and build audiences, to me, it’s just common sense, but others have a different view. Foreign is a big issue and a big question and a big threat because they’re not forced to pay. Maybe they’ll be taxed, maybe they won’t. If they’re not, what do we do about it? Can we do anything about it? I don’t think they’re going to leave. They like Canadian talent. They like Canadian content.
As you mentioned, they’d take one of those shows and take it all over the world. If it’s driven by Canada and it’s Canadian, where is the benefit coming back if that series happen to sell everywhere? These are questions I think nobody has the precise answer to, but clearly they’re going to be part of the debate that the Minister has announced. You guys want to comment on that? Pam?
Pam: I would just say that …
Valerie: Can Pam get a mic here?
Speaker 1: Yeah.
Pam: I would just say that the notion of the tax is very poorly understood. When it first came up, it was about contribution, but there are other forms of tax that others pay that they don’t so they don’t pay into the general tax system in this country, i.e. Netflix. At the very least, I think if you’re going to benefit from a tax credit system, you need to be paying taxes like other companies do. Like Shomi, we have to charge with Shomi. At Rogers, we have to charge an HST to every customer who get Shomi. if you get Netflix, you don’t pay HST. I think these fundamental issues, I mean forget about contribution. Let’s just deal with …
Valerie: That first.
Pam: Like cable stakes first. Yeah.
Valerie: We had a really interesting presentation from Quebecor a couple of weeks ago at Montreal and Pierre Dion provided it to the Quebec production industry. Part of the stats and Serge, correct me if I’m wrong, Netflix occupies 38% of the broadband in Canada now, the broad bandwidth, so when are we going to run out of that and who’s going to benefit? Forty million a month I think they take out of the country, was it? I can’t just remember the exact number but a lot. Comment, question.
Speaker 4: 445 million.
Valerie: 445 million, a month?
Speaker 4: Oh, no, no, no. Annually.
Valerie: Oh, annually. Okay, so that’s divide that by 12? Yeah, okay in subscriptions.
Speaker 4: You’re right, sorry. I should have just …
Valerie: Okay. No, it’s fine. I’m not usually right and I’m always glad to be challenged. I just heard the number somewhere. I can’t remember if it was that presentation or not, so those are really big questions but I think your point Gary is it does come back to the monetization question ultimately. Is there a way in addition to JSD, PSD, HST that those services can be used to help monetize Canadian content or not? I mean that’s really I think at the heart of the debate.
Jocelyn: We’re getting it out there.
Jocelyn: Because we’re going to have a hard … It’s just a competitive business right now and the more handcuffs we give ourselves, the more it’s just adding extra layers of barriers for us to get it out there. I’m going to go to your point in whereas over in your world, those barriers don’t even exist. You can pretty much put anything out. Somewhere we’ve got to find a happy medium where we’re just continuing to build what we’ve already built for 30 years and getting new and all streams of the ecosystem out there to the world. Just look at what happened to Nova Scotia when their tax credits were … It disseminated that province.
Valerie: And Alberta 10 years ago which now has a Renaissance and Saskatoon and …
Jocelyn: Happened overnight, boom, everyone left.
Valerie: Just before you go there Chris, like back to Fran’s question, I think the issue of structure and financing from government and in our case government and the BDUs. We’ve talked for a long time about more flexibility that’s happening a bit now for sure and I guess I don’t see how we can keep pace with what’s happening in this country and around the world on supporting content, unless we have a lot more flexibility with of course making sure we mitigate the risk because I think the extreme control over quasi government or government money came a lot from a couple of things that happened in the country. I think now maybe there’s a different way to look at risk and assess all of that so we can have a bit more flexibility.
That’s certainly what we’ve been hoping for and working hard with our government partners, our government funders to try to figure that out. You were going to comment.
Chris: Yeah. I actually had a question. Being on our side of the world and not really too much foraying into the long form content, but from our experience when we distribute a video and we distribute it everywhere. Some clients actually like to have it distributed on isolated environments, not everywhere, but for the most part, 90% of our clients creators are they want it everywhere. We see a net effect that is far greater by distributing it everywhere in terms of revenue, regardless if it goes on to a platform that can monetize or not.
My question is then if you were to do that with a film and you were to break down that barriers, why wouldn’t the net effect on the other platforms like you might get all these viewership happen on YouTube on that video, but wouldn’t that rise the tide on all these other platforms and drive viewership there too? Have you guys tested that?
Francesca: I think that’s what we’re now trying to encourage the testing of. Part of it I go back to education. A lot of the filmmakers just actually don’t understand the landscape that’s out there. They don’t know that there are companies like Juice, dotstudio. There are actually companies out there that can help you do exactly that and put you on all these different platforms, subscription or free that allow you to start being discovered. One of the things I liked about dottudio in Vancouver not only do they aggregate you, but they also take a look at what your content is and then they niche pushed you to tastemakers, in particular with LGBTQ. They have found tastemakers in very targeted places like Florida who actually consume more Canadian content than other people.
The one thing I love about Canada, boy do we create amazing content and people see Canadian content as having less restrictions. We talked about things differently than anyone else in the world. I think to your point, we got to capitalize on that. Most filmmakers and this is very filmmaker, they just want to see it here in the big screen and that’s it. They don’t know how to get past it which is why what we try and do is try and get filmmakers in those room so that they can say, “Oh my God, there are all these different places that instead of showing it to 300 people across Canada, how do I say yes you can have your screening, but boy if you put it up on multiple platforms all around the world, not just in Canada, you can?” Because I think you can. I really do think you can monetize it. You just have to do the work to get it there.
Valerie: How does that work with issues like … David again from Shomi mentioned this morning the concept of… when Empire which is..the catch-up on Shomi is broadcast across the border at Fox, it drives people back and whatever that expression is… all boats rise, rising tide lifts all boats. It must be only driving it back to Shomi because that’s an exclusive service. When you’re talking about this broad, it should be content everywhere to be discoverable, how does that marry with the exclusivity of some services and then of course the rights issue and the windowing and all of that? Do you have any comments on that?
Chris: Yeah. That’s a huge issue. We’ve been talking to lots of different studios south of the border and the whole DRM aspect is the biggest issue. You can’t really rise a tide when you have all these restrictions on a piece of content, so you need to go to the exclusive holder. If they go and sell it to a different distributor and a different country where that has to be blocked, it ruins the effect because these platforms are opened to the world and you can’t really have any DRM control. That was the whole principle of Rumble is to build a YouTube type platform with a DRM control. Yeah, with these discussions that we have with studios and just long form content in general, is how to break down that barrier because they are looking at the idea of putting it everywhere and maybe adopting this… as the tide rises, all boats rise.
There are some barriers, especially for long form content on the DRM side. I don’t think anybody has quite solved that yet. Hey, if you guys have a feature film that you have an exclusive rights and all jurisdictions for, you should have a channel in Rumble and take it all around the world.
Francesca: I’ll send them …
Chris: Test it with us.
Francesca: I’ll send them your way, but I think the bigger your budget gets, more restrictions happen. The time you get to the $2.5 million budget, then you have to have a distributor or you have to have market interest and then suddenly life changes a little bit because you need to have that cash investment to be able to trigger Telefilm funds. This is where we get into which came first chicken and egg, what’s better, where is the filmmakers and I would say actually some even the original content people that can keep their budget at a much lower level. They can control their IP and they are the ones that we can experiment with or work with to create that exploration of what’s possible without frankly pissing off the distributors which is what I seem to be doing now.
Jocelyn: Well, I would just say that again with the higher budget, they’re paying for exclusivity. When you’re buying it now in your country, you’re paying for exclusivity for the control of your platform. It doesn’t mean they don’t put it on another platform, but it’s their platforms. Sometimes people will put the pilot up online or put it up in various social areas or something like that again driving back to the initial because they’ve paid a lot of money for that exclusivity and the dollars that are driven by that are coming from that exclusivity because it’s the only place you can get it for now. It doesn’t mean a day later they can’t get it somewhere else, but that’s what’s driving it.
I mean appointment television as much as everybody wants to say it doesn’t really exist, it does for those larger monetization dollars, right? It still does believe it or not.
Valerie: Okay, your turn. Questions? Come on, we’ve only had … Yes? Mic.
Irene: Thank you Valerie, everyone. It’s Irene Berkowitz. I’ve just finished a PhD dissertation which attempts to solve the puzzle of Canadian media for the online era without crashing the strengths that … What I want to just point out is …
Valerie: Can you just put that up on the screen so we can all read it?
Irene: I will. I have a 4 part …
Francesca: Do you have your copies? Yeah.
Irene: Yes, I do. Yeah, I will. That’s what I’m trying to do get it out because PhD is so, so low. Underlying this discussion is of course Lilly Singh, and that kind of profitability, there is a divide because underlying Francesca’s and Jocelyn’s comments are what is the best use of public money in the online era. It might require scraping down, which I had to do in my process to arrive my 4-part process which is to come to what’s called in Silicon Valley an MTP which is a massive transformative purpose of our system. What we want to use the public money for in a global online media delivery system and that might mean in speaking to something that Jocelyn was saying, well there are some systems that are going to a producer triggered system and then it may not be involved with protecting domestic distributors.
I mean going back across the line, Twitter is having a hard time being profitable with 350 million users. 36 million is just too small to profit from with a $2 million program. Before, I have a feeling in this digital consultation, we really need to start with what is the purpose of our system. To say that, our last 2 really game-changing innovations were in 1971 which was simultaneous substitution and that gave rise to the 30% profit which was then transformed to a 30% spend for CPE and our point system which was built in 1984. Both those processes took 4 years to come up with and they’ve worked very well for the 20th century. The urgency don’t you feel is to come up with a top-down goal about what we want to achieve with our public money in a completely changed global distribution.
I think it’s all upside. We have like I said this morning 8 billion people we can entertain. Yeah.
Irene: I will send that.
Serge: I just want to comment on what you’ve just said on the funding that should be focusing more on the production side than the distribution side. Two things about this. First, the distributors right now are funding the CMF and second, if we lose control over distribution, the production side will suffer of it because if it’s the American platforms that take all the market, we may have a big problem of discoverability of Canadian content because the priorities in the States about what is being marketed are not the same priorities as Canadian platforms have.
Valerie: Mm-hmm (affirmative), absolutely. I’m sorry. I forget your name already.
Valerie: Thanks Jen. Sorry.
Jen: No problem.
Speaker 5: As a further to Serge’s point, yes there’d be a concern of losing ourselves to a broader market, but then again the power with a lot of the targeted advertising that you can do to reach an audience can be so specific that you’re cultivating these niche audiences. If we can serve them in a more editorial way, then it’s so powerful. My question to Chris on that was how do you harvest that audience and nurture that community? Is there a way to capture that through lead pages and then you have an email subscription base for instance and then exclusive content comes to that community that you’ve captured? I’m just curious how you do it at Rumble of how you harvest that audience.
Chris: Yeah. It’s a lot different than that in terms of how we gain traction. We’re doing north of 250 million viewers a month now which is, like I said, a lot larger than Amazon and Buzzfeed, but that’s just on Rumble, through Rumble and Rumble content and that’s Canadian owned by the way so that seems like a plus. The way we were able to grab the market share was through putting a layer of DRM on top of all the content. Typically when content goes on to YouTube, it goes into this closed platform where then, another licenser comes in on top of it and represents that creator. Lilly Singh probably has an MCN that’s sitting on top of her content representing it, and then you have YouTube. There’s actually a few layers involved in the process for these YouTube stars.
Whereas with Rumble, we wanted to cut out that layer of MCN and rights management and put that onto the platform itself. By doing that, we were able to eliminate the barriers and allow publishers, whether it’s Little Things who’s a huge partner of ours or Buzzfeed or whoever it maybe to monetize this content, because typically when a Buzzfeed or Little Things take a YouTube video and they want to distribute it, they don’t get to make anything out of this content. What we did with our DRM layer on top of it is that we’re allowed to bring in the publisher to monetize the content as well. Now Little Things and Buzzfeed can participate in the monetization and because of the DRM layer, we’re allowed to charge advertisers 10 to 15X more than YouTube can because now it’s like all editorially controlled content and we know what’s on there.
Not only is the creator able to make more because we get that 10 to 15X, but now the publisher jumps in on the game and that’s how we were able to get that distribution and have such crazy growth in the last 6 months in terms of audience.
Francesca: That’s really different from what you’ve talked about in terms of when you’re creating content for traditional television. It’s all about ad revenue and whether you’re going to actually be able to maintain the ad revenue needed to keep the show financed. Versus in terms of going socially, you create the content, then if you get enough hits, the ad revenue is going to come in. It’s very different. One is if you can be right and get in there and find your audience, the advertisers want to be part of what you’re doing. I mean do you find, in terms of television? It’s …
Jocelyn: Well, it is the same thing though. It’s just different and that you have to find your audience and you have to get in the ratings. Ratings is whole another panel that we could talk about, but you have to still get your audience in order to monetize so that your broadcaster or your platform is making money so that they will then continue the series into a second season, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
Valerie: It was a common myth and I just brought it with me because I wasn’t sure if we go there, but it’s an international research firm called O-O-Y-A-L-A, Ooyala I guess. It said the challenge for all digital networks and legacy TV companies is how to enable viewers to discover what they watch amongst the thousands and thousands of online channels. How can they tell the wheat from the chaff. This is where the broadcasters’ deep pockets. I think our broadcasters here might argue that point, but the broadcasters’ deep pockets can help the quality of, in this case MC and its content and grow their audience.
To me, that spoke a bit to this upcoming relationship as it shifts and emerge and how we try to bring the best of both of those worlds together to reach a more international and global audience because that’s always really been the … I mean our Canadian system started from a policy perspective Irene. At least our mandate was content for Canadians and yet we can’t afford I guess any longer to stand on the 49th parallel and look up it is a global business. If we’re going to have our content survive, it has to be everywhere around the world.
Speaker 6: That language is now on the CRTC website.
Speaker 6: The definition of the content.
Valerie: Right. I haven’t looked on there for a while. Okay. We just have a couple more minutes left. Other? Gary did you have something you wanted to add? No, you’re good? Okay. Someone else? Yeah.
Megan: I just have a … Oh sorry, I’m Megan Bingley with a really small radio station here in Toronto with a cool website. The …
Speaker 6: What’s the radio?
Francesca: The radio station.
Francesca: What are you talking about small? You started with Rick Astley. It was awesome.
Megan: Oh yes, it’s him. We’re 2 years old, so it’s still pretty small but thank you. I’m not as in touch with video as all of you are, but I just have a question about how do you really measure your success now? We’re talking a lot about monetization and it used to all be about the scale, but there’s a lot of niche productions and other things like that. You’re also competing obviously with some people who are just doing it for fun and somehow stumbling upon success and they’re turning it into a business rather than starting as a business to begin with. My question is how have you had to change measuring success?
How do you even value your content because it’s everything from just trying to recover the cost of the production, some content that just has some societal value, maybe not a lot of very, very niche or very small? Are you still trying to estimate audiences?
Valerie: Excellent question. Excellent question. Yey for the radio guy.
Chris: I’ll jump in.
Chris: For us, it’s really simple. It’s audience. How much audience we can get our content in front of. We don’t really look at the revenue side of things quite yet. Revenue seems to always catch up and 2 and a half years business with Rumble, that does happen. Revenue always catches up and Facebook is another prime example. All we’re going for right now is an audience. Obviously engagement is important, but revenue will catch up there too. Our success is measured strictly by audience.
Jocelyn: I would say okay so the advent of subscription driven providers has changed a lot of that and that it used to always be ratings. Okay. Now with subscribers, HBO will say it’s really critical claim. A lot of them is really about that. I’m sure there’s a data management aspect of it, but certainly on the Netflix isn’t all the OTTs that looking at all that data and what are people watching for how long, all that kind of stuff, different kind of data than ratings. It’s a myriad of things. Then something might not be Game of Thrones, but if it sells in 180 countries around the world, God bless. People want to watch and not everybody has the same level of what they think is great quality and what they think is fun to watch and what they get a little bit of a vice from watching.
Bachelor is a perfect example of that. It’s not exactly the highest quality show, but it’s a vice. It’s something that they love to watch. It’s fun. It’s entertainment. There’s a whole array of things that make something successful. Awards is another thing that people will hold up. It may have gotten hardly any ratings, but if it won 12 Emmys, people will pay attention. It’s all of a sudden popular and it’s all of a sudden going to get you. There’s a whole array of things that make something successful, but certainly the subscription side of things has changed what risk people will take because it isn’t about ratings. It’s changed what we consider to be quality and what we consider to be a success.
Valerie: Go ahead.
Francesca: I’ll just say very quickly. Telefilm Canada actually has constructed a success index. I saw you at the opening. I think you’re at the opening of Sleeping Giant or at least Indie88 was part of the opening of Sleeping Giant. A film like that will go through a success index and it’s evaluated on cultural, commercial, and industrial and that allows us then to put benchmarks. Originally, everything was just measured on box office. As you all know, you’ve heard me, it’s not the best way to evaluate independent Canadian feature film, in particular when a Sleeping Giant would be up against a Star Wars in terms of how we had to measure it. That’s why we’ve really changed the way we evaluate it so that when a film wins an award somewhere internationally, it actually can elevate it in the score and it may not do as well at home.
Atom Egoyan’s Captive did not do very well here, but internationally, the sales were really, really strong.
Valerie: The CMF, it’s all been audience driven primarily, although increasingly there’s discussion about international recognition awards especially in the Doc sector and certainly sales which is something we’re just trying to pull the teeth out of production companies to get some basic stats and see how that is going because we know it is, we see it. We hear it anecdotally, but we haven’t really captured it. There’s another question here and we’re almost out of time if anybody’s got anything else. Please introduce yourself and go ahead.
Speaker 7: Yes, sure. My name is Solange Drouin, I represent the independent record producers in Quebec. I’m in the music industry. In the music industry in Quebec, we used to have good local success. It still is becoming difficult, more and more difficult to just have a local success, but all the artists are not exportable, even if we want to. You’re still talking about the global market, the global market, but is there any place for a good local success anymore?
Valerie: Well, I think that’s an excellent point and we envy the success of Quebec, all of us all the time, everywhere. Not just in music, but in content, generally speaking because it’s such a unique, diverse market. We’ve often looked at even the success in terms of back catalog content, the work Elephant is done in the province, but the recent discussion even at the Netflixes of the world on this issue of local content and how the whole world is looking for local content. Do you want to comment on that the three of you, Jocelyn?
Jocelyn: There’s some huge, like This Hour Has 22 Minutes and political satire that’s very specific to Canada or to our world. I mean those shows are I mean how many seasons now? Absolutely that still exists. It’s just as you said, very competitive and a show that’s very local has to be covered with tax credits almost 100% by a Canadian player. Whereas something that would have a global appeal, someone can pay a little less for it and then we sell it all around the world and that helps pay for. It’s just so different, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t still exist absolutely. There are some shows that do really well here and don’t do that well in other countries for some reason. They might have sold there, but they don’t do that well.
Francesca: If I just quickly put on my feature film hat though, one of the things I can say I was at the Canadian Screen Awards and I was working the red carpet. Félix et meira and some of the other productions came through and one of the things they talked about was penetrating the English market. They felt that most of their films were not actually being seen outside of Quebec. There’s an interesting conversation to have even in terms of the rest of Canada being able to see. I mean we’re very fortunate with My Internship in Canada, kind of went around Canada. Mommy. In terms of some of those smaller independent films, it’s the same thing. They’re actually seen more in France than they are anywhere else in Canada.
It is a conversation we need to have because I do think people like local. There are Canadians that want to see local. It then goes to our bigger conversation of how do they penetrate the marketplace and I mean ultimately where do you find the audience.
Valerie: Chris, any comment?
Speaker 7: Well, I need to … Sorry.
Chris: Yeah. For us, it’s a little bit different. We don’t really do anything on the local level, but definitely, when we do distribute, we try to be as targeted as possible and a lot of stuff is French and Spanish. We do support a lot of that. When we distribute it, we try to keep it as targeted as possible. For an example, there’s actually a lot of huge sites with a lot of distribution out in France and that content does really well over there. I guess with technology and digitally, there’s more viability to take things locally and monetize locally. Actually, the cool thing about that is that that local digital distribution actually monetizes like almost 5 times more than just general than its distribution. There is an opportunity there.
I don’t see too many people taking advantage of it digitally, but there are a few and they do really well, so that exists on the digital side.
Valerie: Last question.
Speaker 8: It’s not a question. I just wanted to confirm something that you said about This Hour Has 22 Minutes and local content. I was reading recently that I guess This Hour Has 22 Minutes has been finding a lot of new audience by putting a lot of things on social media because they’re finding a lot of younger millennial audiences and probably able to maybe drive that through to YouTube and monetize and finding new revenues that way. I think …
Jocelyn: Colbert and …
Speaker 8: Well, that’s I think …
Jocelyn: Yeah, it has probably opened up the doors for that type of thing to be watched.
Speaker 8: Yeah, it was always funny because they had the reruns a lot on TV and it would be behind the times. If you do look at it as a Colbert and I think millennial political interest, there’s probably a huge opportunity for these kind of things that are local and feel really Canadian.
Francesca: They’re editing, like many of them, like SNL and everything else are editing to the little clips, that then drive you to the longer form content. I mean I think the other in terms of local I’d be remiss in not mentioning like the Trailer Park Boys. I mean talk about something that is extremely local. It’s less Canadian now that it’s gone onto Netflix. They’ve actually talked about how they’re making it less Canadian than it was, because that’s what the market they want to move past that.
Valerie: It’s local though in any place that has a trailer park.
Francesca: Well, that’s very true.
Valerie: Not just Nova Scotia.
Jocelyn: All over Florida.
Valerie: Okay, we’re done. I don’t think we answered … Did we answer the question about monetization? Probably not, but I think 3 comments clearly open access and a new distribution system is a way to increase discoverability for sure. Producers especially I think feature film, it relates to need to find new platforms, bring content to market beyond the world we know and the current system really needs to respond to discoverability but ensuring we don’t neglect the essence of how we get that quality program to take to an audience in the first place. Anything else from the three of you? Anybody else? Last comment. We’re done. We didn’t burned down. Yey.
Francesca: Thank you Val.
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