By Randee Dawn
Make it live, and they will come. It’s a fitting motto for one of the prevailing attitudes of how to draw eyeballs to small-screen content, whether on broadcast and TV channels or in the burgeoning online field of over-the-top programming. David Jammy, whose company Done + Dusted has been behind everything from the iHeart Radio Music Awards to Red Nose Day USA to a new series with Simon Cowell’s company SyCo for Yahoo called Ultimate DJ, spoke with Cynsiders about the reasons TV content is going back to its roots and finding success in the must-see sphere of live content.
Cynsiders: So what’s the state of the net? Where is live programming on the web right now and why is it working there?
David Jammy: There’s no one single authority or voice that has an absolute take on it. But various streaming services and digital platforms pioneered the idea that there was an audience for consuming media in a context where you could control it. You could binge watch a series, for example. What happened as a response to that was that networks and linear broadcasters evolved a strategy that said, “Our programming should be event programming.” We should tie people to a moment where they have a unique experience. Now the pendulum is beginning to swing the other way, where everybody in the digital streaming world and agnostic platforms are going after the new Holy Grail: How do we introduce an event in real time to the world of streaming.
Cynsiders: So does anyone have it down to a system yet?
Jammy: World events like the big full moon [in September] people consume at the time they’re happening, and there is value in a communal consumption of media and music we all respond well too. But nobody has yet cracked the other types of programming that can provide value in the digital universe. We’re in pre-production with [Ultimate DJ] that will break new ground as a big livestreamed TV series, but a lot of it is going to be trial and error. Nobody knows what the formula is, but increasingly everyone wants to have a conversation about what constitutes event programming.
Cynsiders: You do have an issue with the fact that no matter how compelling the content is, you can’t defeat time zones around the world. Not everybody saw the supermoon because it was daytime where they were.
Jammy: You have the option of waking up early, or you can consume it after the event. But yes, that’s a problem. It’s a nice problem to have – because you still provide different ways for people to consume the content, even if they don’t wake up to see it or watch it live on a second screen at work, for example.
Cynsiders: And the truth is that selling content multiple times for different windows has traditionally provided additional revenue streams, which won’t be the case if it’s all live to everyone at once.
Jammy: That is all up for grabs. All of those models are shifting constantly; traditional buying windows everyone already knows are on a pretty tight clock. And when you think of multiplatform distributions – Netflix producing feature films in cinemas on the same day they have it streaming – that’s happening. Income generation models are up for grabs all the time. YouTube planted its flag on the fact that they’re going to raise more money from people who don’t want to watch commercials than to watch commercials.
Cynsiders: You mentioned to me that YouTube’s music awards program in its first year only got 200,000 people watching it live, but 54 million people viewing it later on. What does that tell us?
Jammy: People took that as an example that live programming doesn’t work in the digital space. We have to presume that’s not true. We have to presume the world is evolving. That’s why I think in the next couple of years platforms are going to use big money to explore this. Everyone knows communal consumption of media is not going to die. The experience of watching something while your best friend, or mother, or colleague is consuming it at the same time endures.
The Cynsiders column is a platform for industry leaders to reach out to colleagues, followers, and the public at large. In their own words and in targeted Q&As, columnists address breaking news, issues of the day, and the larger changes going on in the ever-evolving world of television, video and digital. Cynsiders columns live on Cynopsis’ main page and are promoted across all daily newsletters. We welcome readers’ comments, queries, and column ideas at RDawn (@) cynopsis.com