We ask Giorgio Stock, President, EMEA, Turner Broadcasting System what’s driving the industry today and how Turner stays ahead of the competition.
Giorgio Stock is President of Turner Broadcasting for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. He has executive oversight of all entertainment and kids networks and media services; as well as the distribution of CNN’s services and licensing and merchandising activity across the region; leading strategic and operational growth plans for all elements of these businesses.
Meet Giorgio Stock, President, EMEA, Turner Broadcasting System at Cable Congress 2015, 11-13 March , The SQUARE, Brussels – register now.
What do you think will drive the entertainment industry’s priorities as we look at where we are today?
In an industry where things evolve at an ever-increasing pace, two things remain remarkably consistent – content and brands. And the simple fact that those who continue to be exceptional in these areas, and maximise the opportunities within the increasingly connected ecosystem, will prosper.
Amidst the rapid pace of developing technologies and platforms – where do audiences find the itinerary for the experiences they crave?
There are many new video entry points for the audience journey, especially online and on the move, but for the foreseeable future linear viewing remains the main touch-point.
Our role as entertainment creators and media owners is to curate our brands through the many and varied paths to our audiences – delivering experiences that essentially look to technology as a partner. Brands will continue to be the signpost and provide a level of expectation, creating an all important relationship based on trust.
The best business model for delivering quality content is one where the technology enhances and facilitates the consumer experience. This supports loyalty and repeat use with powerful brand experiences and storytelling at its core.
Across Turner Broadcasting, we are further increasing our investment in content and brands across all genres and feeding both current and emerging platforms.
What strategies do you see the business adopting, especially in terms of content, network and product innovation, to stay ahead of the competition?
It’s clear that content providers and owners are reacting to the increasing demand for content across all the ever-rising number of platforms. Last year saw a series of key announcements and launches – from Netflix and Amazon’s further expansion to new services such as: HBO Go, CNN go, CN Watch & Play, CBS and ESPN.
We can certainly expect to see a more competitive OTT environment – as we anticipate some reaction to Netflix’s international roll out and the introduction of Amazon Prime’s Instant Video service.
Collaboration remains critical for business growth; and this means an increasing number of strategic ventures between companies with complementary capabilities, especially platforms and content owners.
We can anticipate further consolidation in the market –particularly as pay TV platforms seek scale, but also as communications companies look upon video and TV as an important part of their environment.
And perhaps most importantly, our industry is defined by a culture of innovation – both creatively and technologically. This culture and its resulting pedigree of ideas, products and services is required to maintain competitive and grow.
How is Turner driving innovation forward in content?
Last year was Turner’s best year ever for reach and ratings across all genres; and innovation is a key driver in our accelerated momentum.
Staying true to Ted Turner’s original vision for the company – we represent an environment where standout creativity, experimentation and entrepreneurial and independent thinking can best be expressed.
From the ‘beating heart’ of our company – programming and brands – to the development and growth of our business, products and services – innovation is critical.
There are many examples, but allow me a few on which to focus…..
A recent study named CNN as a #1 international news brand in TV and digital across our region. As the first ever 24 hour news channel – the network continually builds on its global appeal and topnotch editorial coverage through providing fast up-to-the-minute content on every device, and through every window. CNN as a result remains the go to destination for breaking news.
We actively seek and seize opportunities to monetize existing content and create new IP within the nonlinear space, as properties such as Mixels – a global partnership with Lego – can attest, as well as our growing apps business – driving millions of downloads to date.
Cartoon Network’s critically acclaimed– The Amazing World of Gumball – has garnered 25 global awards including 5 BAFTAs. Technologically ground breaking – and highly creative in both style and writing – it provided something completely unseen before; fast becoming a global hit franchise. With five series in production, the show is an important factor in CN winning BAFTA children’s channel of the year.
Elevating our second flagship kids channel – Boomerang – the EMEA business led a global rebrand of the channel which launches imminently; a testament to the growing importance of this channel for our business and our family audiences – as well as our imperative to keep our channels relevant, fresh and contemporary.
truTV launched in the UK last Summer, expanding our portfolio into all UK homes and allowing us to play in the free-to-air space. And TNT is a leading general entertainment channel in Germany and Spain – with a content pipe stronger and more promising than ever, and proof that we can build a general entertainment proposition in addition to our news and kids offer.
What are the biggest expansion opportunities for your brands and franchises?
Now, more than ever, the strength of operating as part of Time Warner has unleashed new opportunities. One example is the development of an aligned kids and family strategy with sister company Warner Bros – an important output of which is the Boomerang re-brand. Our audiences and partners will most certainly benefit from new the opportunities being created by closer collaboration.
Licensing & Merchandising is a significant part of our ambition to grow franchises – aligned with our strategy to keep re-invigorating brands that resonate globally. An exciting re-launch for us is Powerpuff Girls, premiering across the region next year and promising a new and fashion forward consumer products range.
And of course – we must continue to be everywhere our audiences are. Smart insight informs our business development – and we know our audiences crave engagement through many and varied platforms. Our non-linear offering is going to grow significantly and we are continuing to explore gaming, a much-loved pastime of our audiences.
You also lead kids networks at Turner. How is the new generation of consumers interacting with content?
Driven and resourceful – generation Z often known as the ‘igeneration’ – have an entrepreneurial spirit, wanting to create things, collaborate with others and inspire.
They are curious and like feeling empowered by having control of the content they engage with. And of course they are not just watching TV – they’re everywhere; online, on mobile and tablets, playing games and collecting merchandise, watching on demand and interacting through social media. This generation is often taking in content through up to five screens.
As a creator driven channel Cartoon Network in particular is in a prime position to reach this audience as they want inspiring, creative leaders. We lead the charge in enabling a different kind of storytelling through our new generation of artists, for a new generation of kids.
Across both flagship kids channels – Boomerang and Cartoon Network – we produce content for this generation’s preferred platforms – much which is quickly accessible and shareable worldwide within seconds. Every piece we create must be relevant to our audience, but must also reflect the attributes and values of our channels.
We acquire the rights to leverage our brands online and on demand – and will continue to develop shows within these areas as our audience’s appetite and expectation for this increases.
How important is investment in order to maintain cable’s differentiated position?
For any television business, investment in areas that drive profit is vital – in particular for us this is programming, marketing and franchise management. But this can be considered a hygiene factor, essential for us to compete and a vital component of maintaining a healthy market position – as well as a foundation for growth.
The cable industry has its own hygiene factors, including the continuation of investment in infrastructure and building out networks where economically feasible. Furthermore, cable needs to further build on its ability to create compelling product bundles and enhance the in-home user experience.
In terms of differentiation, cable platforms have access to that precious commodity – direct dialogue and relationship with the end-consumer. Investing in better understanding of the household, its preferences and behaviours give cable companies an enviable position – that also comes with considerable responsibility. Investment in analytics opens up a broad range of opportunities from enhanced content discovery platforms to targeted advertising. But, as many have found out from Sony to the US Government, security of data is paramount.
It is vital for the industry to work with content providers to ensure that we build new and innovative ways to tell stories that surprise and delight audiences and, importantly, drive value for all.
Copyright is a hot topic in Europe, with the Commission currently considering an update to the existing legal framework. With digital and online platforms changing how and when consumers access content, what type of (if any) new rules are needed?
Copyright enables continued investment in talent and production – which is extremely important for European audiences. The existing EU copyright regime is generally sound and provides flexibility. As indicated earlier, the industry is defined by its culture of innovation and is evolving at an astonishing pace. Consumers are the beneficiaries of an explosion of high-quality personalised and localised content that is widely and readily available on practically all platforms and devices at home and on the go. In a fast technology-driven environment, the best way forward is to encourage contractual and market-driven solutions anchored in strong exclusive rights.
Meet Giorgio Stock, President, EMEA, Turner Broadcasting System at Cable Congress 2015, 11-13 March , The SQUARE, Brussels – Register now.