Dan McDermott, President of Original Programming and Co-President of AMC Studios; and Mike Fries, CEO of Liberty Global, shared their perspectives for the changes the industry is going to face during this year.
NATPE Virtual Miami began its third day with another “BIG Opening”. In today’s session, entitled “Big Deals and Big Dealmakers,” Dan McDermott, President of Original Programming and Co-President of AMC Studios; and Mike Fries, CEO of Liberty Global, shared their perspectives for the changes the industry is going to face during 2021.
The first topic that came up during the talk was streaming platforms, and the executives discussed if nowadays having one was a must for any company. In that sense, both Fries and McDermott agreed that it is very important for groups to have their own services. “You have to have a streaming strategy, regardless where you sit in the ecosystem. The market has moved, and the customers have spoken. It is not a level playing field, because you have Netflix or Disney+, which are global scaled. So it might be painful, but if you want to stay longer, you have to have one,” Fries assured.
In line with him, McDermott explained that, despite having a solid linear service with four networks, AMC Networks decided to launch niche SVOD platforms and also AMC+, an extra service to bundle all them up. “For us, as content creators and distributors, it is really about focusing on the consumer and how can we meet them in every possible way,” he said.
In terms of production, they analyzed the potential of localization. “I think that US content creators are still producing the best content of the world, and there is always going to be an appetite for US content. What global platforms have shown us is that, in addition to the great US entertainment, international audiences also want to see their own people and cultures reflected on the stories being told,” McDermott pointed out. “The great productions will always sell; the great shows will always find an audience around the globe. However, the outside markets are going to be less reliant on the United Stated, and they have to be,” Fries added.
Consulted about the size of the companies in times when mergers and acquisitions are the norm, Fries believes that “the disparity between sizes and scale is getting only larger”. In that sense, he thinks small companies will have to wonder how to get through this. “Mergers are not easy, especially in this industry, but I do think we are going to see continuous consolidation. I do not see that trend reversing. It is a difficult road to travel alone if you are not scaled-based,” the CEO of Liberty Global indicated.
Lastly, they talked about windowing and how the pandemic changed the traditional models. According to McDermott, “tou can’t separate the conversation about windowing from the pandemic, which has created an incredible unique and bizarre world”. Regarding that, he commented: “My personal belief is that theatrical is a significant driver of revenues, so I do not see it going away”.
By contrast, Fries considers that the transition to a model like the one Disney adopted during the pandemic is inevitable. “Disney+ is planning to launch movies the same day as they do on theaters. Why not? You have potentially far more eyeballs in the platforms than you can ever get in the theater. You can monetize that across a much larger audience and a sustainable way. Maybe outside in the United States is another case,” he concluded.
For us, as content creators and distributors, it is really about focusing on the consumer and how can we meet them in every possible way” Dan McDermott President of Original Programming and Co-President of AMC Studios