Bold and creative experiences

Penelope Davis

This year’s Best Global Brands recognizes four media and entertainment brands that are leading the way we enjoy, interact with, and share content­: Disney (#14), Thomson Reuters (#66), Discovery (#79), and New Entrant Netflix (#78).

The media and entertainment sector is challenged with high demand for new content, rapidly changing distribution models, and hyper-segmented audiences emerging every day. But, for brands that can look ahead and are willing to be bold and creative, the opportunities for growth in the face of these challenges are just as abundant.

2017’s successful media and entertainment brands are growing by:

  • Tapping into the natural curiosity of their audiences to discover new content
  • Creating emotionally unique and shareable experiences
  • Capitalizing on hyper-personalization

By nature, people hunger to discover something new, and new media serves that appetite especially fast. The demand for original content from all media brands will only continue to grow as technological advancements, partnerships, and new channels make it easier for media and entertainment brands to reach eager audiences. Streaming services are growing rapidly with around 60% of consumers using them monthly. In the US alone, the number of video-on-demand viewers is expected to reach 209 million by 2021.

Feeding the need for new content

Netflix has more than 93 million streaming members in 190-plus countries and added more than 19 million global streaming subscriptions in 2016 alone, according to its 2016 annual report. Feeding the desire for new content globally, Netflix also reached a licensing deal in China with the Baidu-owned streaming service iQiyi, to allow distribution of selected Netflix original content in a market blocked by strict protectionism.

Disney is shifting its business strategy with a more aggressive commitment to original content. It ended its partnership with Netflix and announced the launch of its own streaming services, which will be enabled by the acquisition of BAMTech, a direct-to-consumer streaming technology company. This will allow Disney to create new and original content for very specific audiences via two streaming services: an ESPN-branded multi-sport video streaming service, launching in early 2018, followed by a new Disney-branded direct-to-consumer streaming service in 2019. The latter will “become the exclusive home in the US for subscription-video-on-demand viewing of the newest live action and animated movies from Disney and Pixar,” the company said in a press release.

Discover has plans to diversify its content by entering into an agreement to buy Scripps Networks Interactive, in a deal designed to boost its negotiating power as pay-TV operators lose subscribers. Discovery’s business strategy is grounded in its brand mission: to tell stories about our world and its communities that inspire, inform, and entertain.

Thomson Reuters has built upon its merged legacy as one of the world’s largest and most-consulted news organizations to meet its audiences where they are, while looking toward the future. The company’s main challenge is to communicate its diverse offerings in a cohesive way—and while they continue to drive engagement through their extensive IP, they been finding more innovative ways to deliver this content. Its 60-90 second videos, called “orange papers,” deliver thought leadership in a more interesting and consumable way. The brand has soared on multi-channel and social media with next-wave data analysis and employee advocacy. Yet it maintains the unique identities of its varied businesses and specialty divisions—which include financial and risk, legal, tax and accounting, and media markets—by keeping them rooted in their distinct offerings, while anchored to the trusted Thomas Reuters brand. In this way, the company has managed to both deepen and widen its connections to audiences.

Made-to-share experiences 

Trying to stay in tune with customers is not a new idea, but next-level growth requires media and entertainment brands to form a true, strong following for content by delivering unique emotional experiences.

As a means of differentiation and to reinforce its brand, Disney continues to focus on difficult-to-copy experiences by creating “magical moments.” The brand continues to expand its theme-environment reach, lately with the Shanghai Disney Resort in Pudong, Shanghai—the first Disney park resort in mainland China and the second in Greater China. Disney also owns some of the most popular entertainment franchises, including Pirates of the Caribbean and Star Wars, and is leveraging these to connect with both legacy followers and new fans, to create fanatics—the most devoted of followers.

Tapping into audiences

Media and entertainment brands today have unparalleled access to the hearts and minds of consumers. And when brands reach those people with content and experiences on their preferred channels, they can unlock real value.

Many brands are strategically adapting their distribution models and delivery to meet user behaviors and content consumption across all segments, not just among tech-savvy millennials. To access desired and beloved content, people across demographics are demanding more-personalized and preferred content across social media, mobile devices, and streaming. And media brands are responding by creating original content for multiple channels, including Facebook Live, reddit, Snapchat, YouTube, and Twitch, Amazon’s platform for gamers.

Discover will be creating content for Snapchat’s Discover platform that will feature new series created specifically for Snapchat’s mobile-first audience, as well as shows inspired by some of Discovery Communications’ most captivating and beloved properties, such as Shark Week and MythBusters.

Broadcast veteran MTV falls off the list this year, but is looking to regain its footing in the digital-streaming era by predicting what its new audience segment wants—and getting back to its roots. The brand has always been at the center of rapidly changing youth culture, and that still holds true: even amid trying to reestablish its identity, MTV’s presence has not diminished. President Sean Atkins announced in 2016 that the company is “beginning the journey of creatively reinvigorating the brand.” It hopes to do this by bringing back “music as the muse” and finding the right balance of scripted and non-scripted content. The brand’s digital portfolio includes online, mobile, and app experiences across music, pop culture, politics, and exclusive content. According to Viacom’s 2016 annual report, in the quarter ended September 30, 2016, MTV.com averaged approximately 17.2 million monthly unique visitors and approximately 38 million content video streams each month, and users spent an average of 101.8 million minutes per month with MTV-branded apps. Tapping into those visitors and what makes them tick will be key for MTV to build a devoted following and not just viewer numbers.

If media and entertainment brands want the people to reward them with their love and loyalty, then they must be laser focused on what the people want. Growing brands are proactively creating personalized content that will reach people everywhere, and win their hearts.

Senior Director, Verbal Identity