In Perspective: Emma Gunn On Shifting Content Trends in IFE and the Global Appeal of Local

By April 25th, 2016

Hot on the heels of APEX MultiMedia Market 2016 in Amsterdam – a show bringing together key players within the in-flight entertainment (IFE) community – we caught up with our Senior Manager, Content Acquisition, Emma Gunn to get the inside track on the event and gain her perspective on shifting content trends in IFE.

In this edition of Spafax Perspectives, Emma discusses the rise of short-form content, the global appeal of local titles and the latest contender in the IFE space: virtual reality.

We’re seeing an increase in demand for local content. Can you speak more to this trend?

There’s been a steady increase in demand for local and non-English language shows for a while now. The meteoric rise of the Scandinavian noir TV genre started with The Killing back in 2007 and lead to a plethora of cutting edge dramas being produced such as Borgen, Bron and Lilyhammer. Some were adapted for the US markets, and this – combined with the ease of sampling a variety of content via Subscription Video On Demand (SVOD) platforms – has allowed local content to become globally recognizable.

“It’s not just local audiences asking for local content – everybody wants it!”

Recently, German drama has experienced a boom due to the global success of titles such as Deutschland 83 and Generation War as has Italian drama with the success of Inspector Montalbano. Turkey has also become one of the fastest growing exporters of drama outside the UK and US. Turkish shows were originally popular in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, but have slowly grown in Asia and Latin America. So it’s not just local audiences asking for local content – everybody wants it! And of course airlines know this and want to show the premium popular shows on the ground within their IFE product, regardless of where they were produced.

In our Spafax Perspectives discussion with Sue, she notes a shift in airline demand for short-form IFE content (ex: YouTube-type content). Are content distributors recognizing the trends enough?

The recognition of the popularity of short-form content, or content produced predominantly for a digital platform has been a bit of a slow burner not only for content distributors, but also for buyers. The demand is growing, especially as today’s younger audience (13-33 year olds) aren’t engaging with traditional TV and consume practically all content via the Internet. Studios have recognized the appetite for these new types of content and have invested in companies such as Maker Studios (Disney) and Machinima (Warner Bros). However, I think part of the problem for distributors is finding content that is relevant and of sufficient quality, since the majority of this content is user-generated. Saying that, there are some super web series being produced and some of these were represented at the APEX MultiMedia Market!

As airlines and distributors recognize the importance of engaging with the millennial audience, we will see more of this type of content available on both traditional and “bring-your-own-device” IFE platforms and also within apps and websites.

Any particular content offering that impressed you so far this year?

I’ve been blown away by some of the non-traditional content represented at markets this year, namely virtual reality (VR) and 360 content. The content quality was amazing compared to what I witnessed a few years back and the immersive experience was so exciting. I saw a demo of a virtual living room, where you could access linear and SVOD TV and watch whatever you wanted via a flatscreen within your VR space! Will this be another possible platform and window for us to contend with? It was certainly great to be whisked away to a beach paradise for a few moments!

How would you compare APEX MultiMedia Market to other shows you attend like MIPTV?

“What’s great about APEX Market is that you have a select amount of distributors who are dedicated to IFE and understand how we work.”

Obviously, the main difference is the size of markets. What’s great about APEX Market is that you have a select amount of distributors who are dedicated to IFE and understand how we work. MIPTV and MIPCOM can be overwhelming, especially when you consider that we buy from all catalogues, genres and territories. Combine this with today’s ever-expanding TV landscape, and pre-event preparation becomes a must in order to hunt down those little pearls of content. But it’s so exciting when you do find them and even better when you find out that the producer or distributor holds the IFE rights!

The larger events are also a great opportunity to pick up on TV trends, to see what other buyers are picking up and to see how brands are promoting content to a multi-platform global audience and then compare this all to the IFE world.