Thursday, 15 October 2009

Channel 4 You Tube deal

There were strong rumors last week and these have been confirmed by MediaGuardian today. A landmark deal between the UK commercial broadcaster, Channel 4 and You Tube - For You Tube to host C4 programs shortly after broadcast.

The deal, that was 6 months in the making with both parties sharing the revenues generated You Tube via an 'agreed formula', see C4 will make its existing online video 4oD catch-up service available via YouTube shortly after shows have aired on TV.

Both parties have signed up for an initial 3 year period and C4 content will become available on the Google-owed site early in 2010 (in the UK it only appears to protect foreign rights revenues C4). Regular and new series such as Skins, Peep Show and Hollyoaks will be joined by 3000 hours of archive programming including shows such as Brass Eye, Derren Brown and Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares.

So why the deal, and why now?

Well, Channel 4 have been in a tight spot revenue wise (like all UK commercial broadcasters) for some time as advertiser demand falls while audience remain static. So while the debate about C4 taking a share of the BBC license fee rumbles on, they are forced to look for other revenue sources. Given that You Tube has 20 million UK users, even with a relatively low cost-per-view - this should bring in much needed funds for C4. It'll be very interesting to see what concessions are made to the sponsors of existing C4 shows. Channel 4 have an excellent track record in monetising their programs from a sponsorship point of view. Will this deal be covered in existing and future C4 sponsorship deals as they are on Channel 4's online catch-up site, 4 On Demand.

Channel 4's out-going chief executive Andy Duncan said of the deal "it demonstrates our ability to strike dynamic commercial partnerships to help underpin our future as a commercially funded, not-for-profit multi-platform public service network." So yes, some much needed immediate cash.

But there are sceptics industry stating that C4 have mortagaed the longer-term value of their content for short-term rewards.

"No broadcaster in the world has done a long-form deal with them [YouTube] for a good reason," said a senior executive in the digital broadcasting industry. "They already control 65% of the UK video market. With that kind of market power, long-term they will screw you. Channel 4 has taken short-term profit and Sacrificed long-term value. It is not a smart deal.

For You Tube, well I see this as a win win situation for them. They get some exceptionally high-quality content that viewers will seek out and spend considerable time with. No doubt boosting overall revenues and not just those linked to the C4 content.

There appears to be an interesting kicker to this deal. I have no idea Whether the new C4 series 'Rude Tube' is tied to this deal, but it seems too close not to be.

Zane Lowe presents a weekly wraps up of the best You Tube action (in the tradition of You've Been Framed but for the 'yoof'). Classic You Tubes are replayed and the story behind them told.

Long-term its hard to tell what the result will be, but in the short-term it appears to be a good deal for Channel 4, You Tube and consumers.

UPDATE 19/11/09

Monday, 12 October 2009

Fireworks in the Ukraine, a damp squib online?

The dust is settling on the aftermath of the 1st ever England football match to be screened exclusivily online. As the pitch recovers from the burning flares - the analysts are wondering what this experiment means in the long term for sports broadcasting.

On Saturday night, the amide of the flares and fireworks, England lost their 100% record under Capello Flabio in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukriane. Meanwhile up to 500.000 either England fans paid up to 10 pounds to log on or attend the Odeon cinemas in 12 (or did not given this photo)

The main concern that surrounded the announcement of the deal was that of technical glitches and viewing quality. The Upshot appears to be a mixed result. The Swiss agency Kentaro, left holding the rights after Setanta went bust this year, and Perform, the internet broadcaster employed it to show the match after receiving no "satisfactory" offers from TV broadcasters, said almost nine in 10 viewers who responded to a post -match survey found the picture quality "satisfactory or better".

However numerous callers to radio shows on Sunday complained about glitches and delays in loading video and comentary - no doubt a result of living in a slow broadband area.

So, the question stands - when will we see the like of this again?

Remember this event came about after Setanta (who held rights to some of England's away Qualifiers) went to the wall in the UK. Kentaro rejected a bid of £ 1 million from the BBC for the live rights (the Beeb later struck an 11th hour deal for the highligths package) and decided to break the mold and put out the live broadcast online. Its hard to predict when more 'distressed purchase' rights will come to the market like this again. Can not see Sky, ESPN or the BBC going bust anytime soon. ITV are having a horrendous time but they are unlikely to try to unload this Champions League rights - its their best upmaket access to small audiences.

Either way - if these rights are up for grabs again, I'd be very interested to see a brand come in and become the facilitator and broadcaster. In many ways, this happened in part with the Ukraine match. Many national newspapers had Partnered Perform with The Game that offer to their readers (at a price of course), but it was the betting site, Bet365, who did bring The Game to its users for free.
For instance, could we see Ford also their Champions League partnership to the next level and provide the content? Clearly with the usual free-to-air trade off of being branded a exporsed content / ads from the advertiser.

Doing the maths, where possible on this experiement, its hard to make a case that more revenue was brought in by eskewing the traditional halls of rights is a TV broadcaster. Kentaro will not release the full numbers but given the estimate of 300.000 people buying on-line rights at anywhere from 4.99 to 11.99. Its come up short of an usual Sky audience for an away fixture of England (c. 2 million), the ad revenue Sky would attract and the price they might pay.
But its not beyond our Imaginations to find other ways of monetising this sort of deal. Meaning that it could become viable to see this again, screened in a similar way. Although the Internet broadcaster would need to do a better job than Perform in restricting viewing from illigimate websites (such as And curb the sharing of log-ins (apparently a user could sign in as many as 25 friends)
That said, given the state of the economy and the enourmous pressure on national broadcasters, rights holders, in all sports will be looking at this ground-breaking experiment with much interest.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

How to build a winning pitch. Mike Lee's lessons from London and Rio

I was extemely heartened to hear the news from Copehagen last week, that the IOC had awarded the 2016 Olympics to Rio de Janeiro, bringing the games to South America for the 1st time.

Rio had seemed to be the 'peoples' choice for some time but it was by no means a shoe-in. Concerns over security and infrastructure had enabled Chicago to come close to being the US's 3rd summer games in little over 3 decades.

Winning the Olympic bid must surely be seen as the biggest pitch in town - the legacy created by an Olympic games is enourmous and hopefully a positive one (if you're not Montreal, the 1976 games indebted that the Canadian city for years afterwards).

So I asked myself; as we work in an industry where we generally face an open, competitive pitch to win and retain our clients, what can we learn from this process.

What I really liked the Rio's attitude was this: we want the best so we'd better get the best possible team on board. So who do you go to in terms of the best 'Olympic pitch experts'? Well you get the guy who helped win the last one, right? And thats precisely what Rio's bid leader, Carlos Nuzman did. He brought on board Mike Lee, the communications director of London's 2012 bid and his Vero team.

I read a piece by Lee in the Guardian on the day following the decision and I've tried to draw out a few general principles which we might apply to our daily reality of pitching. Clearly I'd like to ask him for more detail, but I dare say he'd probably charge a pretty hefty fee given his success rate.

1) Fully understand your audience

We say this a lot but rarely go to succufficent lenghts to really get to understand individual and corporate motiviation. What are they really looking for? This will never be committed to a brief, so you have to read between the lines. How brave are they? Whats the true extent of ambition?

Lee recongised that the IOC, despite a repuation for being a conversative organisation, had acutally a storng track record for making bold decision in where to award games. He cites Toyko '64 and Beijing '08 as examples of this. This gave him an insight and allowed Rio to develop its bid in a certain way

2) Create a powerful narrative

A pitch is a story, the story of your agency and the process you've been through. It will be much more patable and easy to understand if there is a powerful narrative running through it. It also needs to be a balanced story.

Lee recongised that Rio had a very strong emotional pull as a bidding city - no South American city had hosted before, Rio is famous for its party spirit. However, before playing these trump cards Rio had to prove its worth from a more rational point of view. So Lee had President Lula and the Governor of the Brazilian Central Bank put the raitonal case first, to build the framework. They proved the money and polivital will was in place. Then bid president Nuzman did the emotive close, using videos like this...


3) Get the right people and ensure they are fully committed to the process

Lee makes the point that while Obama flew in for the day to support his home city, President Lula (like Tony Blair for London) had been a fundamental part of the bid for 2 years. Visiting IOC members, current and future games sites - publically showing commitemnt to the cause.

So for us its all abiout the right pitch team, the best people with clear and defined roles

4) Have a clear defining idea

Leave the audience with a very clear idea - they will no doubt, like the IOC, have to sit through 3 or 4 more equally determind presentations, so ensure they have somehting to take away.

For London this was all about inspiring the young people of the world. For Rio it was an idea about the journey the country (and region) was on to bring people out of poverty and create a new, modern Brazil.

So, hats off to Mike Lee - his business will no doubt flourish as his results speak for themselves. Hopefully we can learn a little from his valuable tips.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Cannes Lions - Warsaw event 01.10.09

Last night I attend the Warsaw leg of the Cannes Lions review. It was hosted by SAR (the Polish Ad Industry body) and Phil Thomas from Cannes Lion International came over from London to talk to the 700 or so the ad industry folk gathered at the Terraces Zloty cinema.

It was nice touch that Phil came over here - that will hopefully encourage some more creative bravery in the market. Given Poland's size it is hugely underrepresented at Cannes and generally has a lower level of creative output than a market of this size warrants.

The message from Thomas was clear - our inductsy is changing as consumers engagement with the media and therefore advertising changes, "our jobs and roles will change completely in the coming years" Thomas said. This, of course, is music to my ears. Hopefully everyone took a little inspiration from the event.

The event was a little swollen on the side - at 4hours in length not everyone stayed the course, its hard to retain anyones attention for that long, let alone the ad folk. Especially when you play out no less than 5 adidas 10 min films back to back - that really did not deserve to be there.

My personal favorite was a series of 3 films by DRAFTFCB Stockholm, SWEDEN. A campaign to encourage Swedes to pay their TV license.

What I loved about this, beyond the brilliantly executed fake flash mob humor of the movie, was the simple but powerful insight: In Sweden instead of demonising those who do not pay their TV license (the UK model), celebrate the fact that many people (like you) activily chose to pay their license. As they say independent TV and radio is not a given thing.

Loads of other great campaigns to see on the Cannes Lions site. Indeed what struck me was that in today's era of tight budget, witness power of many of the shorter length copy ads. As Dave said Drogba - the economic crisis as 'belt' is not necessarily restricting the flow of blood to Creatives brains.