The US is the most important media market in the world, and much time is spent analyzing the trends and dynamics that are shaping its future – rightly so.
But too often the assumption is still made within the industry that, outside the US, media markets are in the US’s slipstream. Even a brief visit to other markets confirms that this is very far from the reality.
Media markets are shaped by the local adoption of – and availability of – devices and technology, and, crucially, by local tastes. One trend evident in markets round the world is that Hollywood content, despite accounting for a large proportion of TV operators’ acquisition budgets, does not necessarily guarantee big audiences.
From Asia to Latin America to Africa, local consumers are seeking out and engaging with locally produced content, where high-end production values are less important than stories or songs that resonate at a local or regional level.
In many cases, the infrastructure for delivering and distributing this content is not formalized, which means that traditional providers are not seeing a financial benefit. And those providers seeking to compete for audiences with an offering skewed primarily towards non-local content are struggling to compete.
Understanding local content and local audiences is the key to growing the media businesses in markets around the world.
Smart operators are starting to tap into local on-screen talent, for example by providing platforms for the aggregation of local video, while others are investing in the support of local content production, at a fraction of the cost of acquiring the rights to the latest US movies.
Though such initiatives are currently on a small scale, they seem like a decent long-term bet to make, if operators want to understand and serve their customers better.
Nick Thomas is practice leader for digital media at Ovum. For more information visit www.ovum.com/