2023 kicked off with significant pressure being place on the US Studios to focus on profitability rather than striving for D2C subscribers at all costs. As Studios adjusted their priorities and looked to monetise content in more ways, we saw the first joint strike between the WGA and SAG-AFTRA for over 60 years. In this insight, we take a look back at the biggest Show Tracker stories of the year that highlight key trends and shifts that have occurred in the TV distribution landscape this year.
10. Studio Streamers Reaching for Profitability
In 2023, studios started licensing content that was once exclusive to their platforms, to third parties. While more recently, library sales are drawing the most attention, we did start to see the beginnings of second window sales as well, with certain marquee series like ‘Abbott Elementary’ appearing on the likes of E4 in the UK - all while still sitting on Disney+.
9. Viaplay Refocussing on the Nordics
Viaplay had found some great early success in 2023, expanding into several territories, but after some time the service decided to focus on its strengths. By receding back into its strongest markets and focusing more on solid acquisitions, the service may be able to perform quite well in its home, SVOD heavy, territories.
8. How Canal+ are Turning Threats into Opportunities
Volume deals can be a fantastic source of content for a Pay TV operator, particularly if they include series from the likes of HBO and Showtime, but an over reliance on them can make a service vulnerable. Canal+ has faced these shakeups by seeking new opportunities, acquiring from new sources and building its subscription into the first true super aggregator.
7. Telia Transforming TV4
Telia’s shuttering of its C More channels presents the opportunity to put its content front and centre on an enticing platform. Its AVOD tier offering in Sweden gives the opportunity to discover content coming from a wide swath of distributors, and an SVOD tier that can hopefully bring in a reasonable number of subscribers in this SVOD friendly market.
6. Pay TV Dominating the Local SVOD Market
Many SVOD services are outside of those that come from the studios or silicon valley, but Pay TV owned services are the ones that outpace the others in terms of acquisitions. For many places, it can be win-win, with all their linear acquisitions not only supporting traditional models but also their SVOD activity as well. Here we broke down to what extent Pay TV is leading in this space.
5. Warner favouring volume deals over vertical integration
Warner’s strategy has swung back and forth over the past few years, with its focus on ending all volume deals in place of launching Max eventually being adapted to a more pragmatic, profit driven approach. Key deals like those with U-Next in Japan were extended and new ones drawn up. That’s not to say that the expansion of Max is over, with France set to launch Max in 2024, after having trialed its Warner Pass.
4. Disney's strategy benefitting from vertical integration
Disney’s all-in approach to vertical integration in the first window has helped Disney+ reach premiere levels for original series rival even the likes of Netflix when you take into account how all series from Disney have ended up in one app outside the US. With the Disney+ Hulu merged app set to launch soon in the US, looking back at how this approach has worked globally will no doubt give some insight into what US subscribers should expect.
3. Warner Bros. Cost Cutting
Warner Bros. stayed on reader’s minds throughout the year as we continued to check-in on their strategy. By this point in time, their pragmatic approach had become all the more apparent. On the commissioning side we begin to see a deeper reliance on established IP, rather than original concepts, especially in light of the studios’ then recent announcement of a Harry Potter remake in the works to be delivered as a TV series.
2. How the Writers Strike will Affect Distribution
This year's writers strike caused a great level of disruption to the industry and its effect on studio’s content pipelines will continue to be felt for the months to come. In this piece we looked back at how total production shutdown in 2020 due to COVID caused US services to acquire more UK content than ever. This time however, UK distributors were disappointed as the opportunity was not as big as it was in 2020 when several US studio SVODs were going through a pivotal launch year.
1. What Lionsgate will do with eOne
With its full integration now imminent, we took the news that Lionsgate was buying eOne to examine how the eOne content catalogue and production apparatus could best be utilised by its new owner. With a Starz separation on the cards and a retreat of Lionsgate+ from certain markets, the distributor is set to return to the market with a focus on selling to third parties. eOne titles will no doubt slot nicely into its portfolio, with series like ‘The Rookie’ showing there is real appetite for classic, broadcaster friendly, procedural TV.