[Asian Leadership Conference] Will Content be the ‘Gold’ of the 21st Century?
What is ALC? Asian Leadership Conference (ALC) is Korea’s premier international conference where global leaders coalesce to discuss and provide possible solutions for the pressing issues currently facing the world. Former speakers for ALC include Barack Obama, George Bush, David Cameron, Reed Hastings, Steve Chen and etc.
This year’s ALC will be held online under the theme of "World after Covid-19: Rebuilding Trust and Cooperation” Blintn, an online marketplace for production funding & distribution hosted the 4 media sessions, inviting world-class authorities in media industry as speakers.
Jun Oh/ President of Global Business and Legal Affairs of Skydance
As President of Global & Business Legal Affairs, Jun Oh is responsible for running all business and legal affairs on a global basis related to the development, production and distribution of all of Skydance’s core content divisions including feature film, television, interactive and animation.
Teri Schwartz/ UCLA Professor; Former Dean, UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television (2009-2019)
UCLA Professor Teri Schwartz served as the Dean of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television (UCLA TFT) from 2009-2019 where she launched a new vision and long-range plan that re-imagines entertainment and performing arts education as an interdisciplinary enterprise grounded in humanistic storytelling, social impact, technology and innovation, and global diversity. She is a veteran film producer, well known for Sister Act (1992) which is the world's 8th profitable film.
Patrick Frater/ Chief of Variety Asia Bureau
Patrick Frater has over 20 years of experience writing about and analyzing the international film industry, including Variety, Screen International and The Hollywood Reporter.
“Will Content be the ‘Gold’ of the 21st Century?”
Q1. Do you think it's a good time to work as a content creator right now?
T: Yes, I believe now is the greatest time. Existing content makers and future generations of content creators now have a variety of options. The number of platforms to choose from has increased, and the need for content is bigger than ever. I now have high hopes for our industry.
J: I'd be a producer if I were creative. Looking at the current state of the media sector, it appears that every field is extremely busy. The need for content is growing as streaming services lead the industry in various ways. More than ever before, content reigns supreme. The question of how long this tendency will endure, however, remains unanswered.
P: Yes, I'm also interested in seeing how many streaming services survive. Because streaming services are currently investing a lot of money in production but profiting from all of it is difficult.
J: That's correct. That is why I always keep in mind if it is worthwhile to squeeze this juice with your hands. Streaming services are currently purchasing large volumes of content while also generating their own products. Netflix, Apple, and Amazon have a combined budget of about $100 million. So, for this enormous production, how many subscribers should be maintained? Investors will eventually begin to question if investments of this magnitude can be worthwhile. Sales are less crucial than profit. We need to keep thinking about whether we can keep attracting subscribers and whether large-scale investments and production initiatives are cost-effective.
Q2: So, could technology businesses like Google and Apple, which are attempting to join the entertainment market, infringe on streaming service companies?
T: For the time being, the concentration on streaming will continue, but, as with cable and CD, only a few companies will survive. The key point is that narrative is a universal language that brings people from all walks of life together. Businesses and platforms come and go, but narrative will endure as long as humans do. One intriguing point is that, with the introduction of streaming services, the way tales are created and disseminated has changed, and storytelling has begun to become more global.
J: The industry will be sorted out, as the professor predicted, and just a few enterprises will remain in the market. There will be a lot of new streaming services in the future, but we'll eventually try to integrate them to get additional material.
T: That's correct. Great directors, writers, planners, and performers are involved in the massive budget production that is currently underway. It's eerily similar to previous large-scale studio productions. However, the economics of these enormous projects are a source of concern. Investors who are risk adverse prefer to invest in the top producers, which implies that new producers aren't given a chance. We used to be able to find new talent primarily through movies, but we're curious if streaming services could help us identify new talent. It's because everyone's attention is drawn to large-scale production.
Q3: Then what is the difference between purchased and self-produced content, and how are streaming services using it?
J: The current revolution is in full swing. There wasn't much original content when Netflix initially started streaming. They concentrated on buying content that had not yet been released in theaters. However, they are now producing a significant amount of content on their own. Because you'll have complete ownership and copyright protection. If you own copyright, you can earn from your content in a variety of ways. It's even less expensive than buying pre-made content. Due to these advantages of original content, many streaming services try to recruit talented people from movie studios or broadcasting stations and have their own talent. The current streaming services are becoming very similar to the old production studios.
T: In terms of infrastructure and overall strategy, we can observe that it is becoming similar to the previous studio setup, as stated by the CEO. Even if the format and title change, the substance remains the same.
P: That's correct. I believe that the fact that these streaming companies have gone global makes a significant difference. Netflix, Amazon, Apple, and other companies have recently increased their local production. Hollywood studios have attempted local production in Asia in the past and failed in nearly every occasion. Following the acquisition of India's largest production firm, Disney announced that it will no longer make its own films in the country.
Q4. On the other side, in India, Mexico, and Korea, streaming firms with a similar structure to studios are successfully creating locally. What is the distinction here?
J: When creating regionally, Netflix now hires local producers who speak the local language. Executives with prior experience in the field are also employed. This is how the streaming services differ, and it's a highly effective method. Hollywood studio executives were dispatched to the country, but they failed to adequately adapt to the local market. Even if I were in that situation, I would employ this method in a variety of ways. It is low-cost and high-performance. However, I believe that in the future, large firms such as Netflix and Amazon will be able to take over smaller streaming services and operate as local branches.
T: The most significant difference from the past is that the border has lost its significance. We developed tolerance that we had never had before as we became able to communicate with anyone, wherever in the world. This made me realize how important it is for corporations like Netflix to appreciate the worth of various cultures and to respect their stories and culture. Instead of generating local tales for the regions, they've given the region means to tell their story themselves.
Q5. Some films from Korea and India were sold to other nations in the past, but it was extremely unusual. It was even more difficult to watch them on television. However, Korean entertainment now has become increasingly popular around the world as a result of its availability on major streaming services. Netflix is investing in Korea not only to increase its position in the Korean market, but also to export Korean content that it has invested in. Then how did streaming services change storytelling?
T: As you mentioned, Korean material is becoming increasingly popular around the world. Korea, I believe, has mastered the art of genre storytelling. It's an ingenious strategy that fully depicts cultural features while also fitting them into a genre framework. One season of a show is available at a time on streaming platforms, allowing you to binge watch it. When advertising began to appear in between episodes, the material became fully consumer focused. Viewers have complete control over when and how they consume content. The structure of storytelling has changed as a result of the change in streaming media. What hasn't changed, however, is our urge to tell stories. Hollywood has finally realized that there are fantastic stories to be found in different civilizations. A new generation of executives is developing, and since digital technology allows them to contact with people from other nations, this generation is becoming more interested in foreign cultures' stories. The universal sentiments we share bind us all together and pique our interest in various civilizations. Above all, we could feel as if we were traveling to different nations rather than being stuck at home in the Corona era thanks to streaming services.
J: In the business section, there's one more point to mention: these streaming services can reach an endless number of individuals. My parents, who only speak Korean, should have spent more each month to subscribe to the Korean broadcast. They were able to watch more Korean broadcasting without utilizing cable after joining Netflix. This, I believe, is a clear example of how streaming services' influence has grown significantly.
Q6. Do you have high hopes for the future of storytelling? Do you have a negative outlook?
T: I am a positive person, but I wonder if there will be more opportunities for young people in our field. That is precisely the point. In truth, this is a really difficult field to break into. If that's the case, I believe it's important to know whether streaming services will raise the entry bar to make it more difficult for new players to enter as they expand, or whether to act as a breeding ground for new voices. I believe the media sector is the only one that does not invest in itself. If streaming providers comprehend these aspects, it will be a huge step forward in the right direction.
J: It's difficult for consumers to find and know what stuff they actually want to see given that so much content is available on streaming services. The good news is that everyone with a smartphone can become a creator. I would never have had this opportunity in the past if I hadn't gone to film school and didn't have the right connections. As a result, it's heartening to see talented people who haven't had this chance obtain it. On the other side, because there are so many contents, it's difficult to stand out. I don't believe anyone has figured out how to curate exactly the type of material that consumers want.
The session let us know that the content sector is in its golden age. Streaming services are starting to resemble studio structures from the past, but they've been improved more technically and strategically to connect cultures all over the world.
With streaming services, the framework of the story has changed, but the core human urge for storytelling has not. We need to uncover the answers to curate the material that consumers want among the many contents that comprise this storytelling.