Variety’s Winter Entertainment Summit to Discuss Industry’s Diverse Streaming Needs, Pandemic Impact and Generational Approaches

After a pivot from an in-person event at CES due to the omicron surge, Variety’s virtual Winter Entertainment Summit will start streaming Jan. 27.

Many of the panelists have their eyes on what will be next for their businesses and how to capture and engage consumers.

Variety co-editor-in-chief Cyn-thia Littleton will host panel Best Way Forward: Future of the Entertainment Industry, which features Shalini Govil-Pai, GM & VP of Google TV, and Farhad Massoudi, founder and CEO of Tubi, among others. These two sense the urgency to meet the needs of audiences who are now streaming savvy after months at home.

“For our users, access to a variety of content that is diverse and easily discoverable is more essential than ever,” says Govil-Pai. “With more time being spent at home, we’ve seen a rise in TV usage overall, both for streaming traditional media as well as for non-traditional use cases like for fitness and communications. Making sure there’s access to the experiences that our users need will be incredibly important.”

Massoudi looks at post-pandemic audience behavior in a slightly different way:  “AVOD has been on a steady trajectory over the past few years that will only continue to rise rapidly over the next 12 months, as consumers realize they don’t need to pay to watch quality content, and as they become more selective with the services they subscribe to. The pandemic accelerated significant growth across all streaming, but as we return to a semblance of normalcy, consumers are questioning how many SVOD services they actually need. The churn rate of subscription streaming services is predicted to be sizable next year, while AVOD will continue to grow and gain share, as fans spend more time with content that is completely free, yet gives them nearly everything they want and complements their pay SVOD services.”

While everyone wants to find the magic formula for audience engagement, it sometimes falls along generational lines. Participants in the panel Finding the Right Audience Engagement Formula — Gen Z + Millennials + Gen X will discuss what they’ve found working across those demographics and within them. Despite being in a constant state of flux over the past two years, marketers are finding ways to reach their audience.

“We have all-hands-on-deck approach across a range of marketing and communication media to create the most impactful narrative experience to connect great stories and characters to our audiences,” says Jayanta Jenkins, head of content marketing, Disney Branded Television and National Geographic.

“We’ll look to unleash and showcase even more into authentic creativity and we’ll sharpen the strength of our digital ecosystem to serve and broaden our communities, providing brand-loyal consumers and prospective new consumers a way to connect with our brands,” adds Jenkins.

Some have tapped into pandemic content trends to develop collaborations with content creators endorsed by the audiences who love them.

“I think it’s been really fun and interesting to partner with influencers since we have all been home and consuming that content and interested in learning new things,” says Emily King, exec VP, marketing strategy media and digital, Fox Entertainment. “I’m looking into developing deeper relationships in those communities — advertising opportunities, partnership opportunities — and who knows where that could lead?”

Josh Rider, VP, brand partnerships at Instacart, says the world is very different for shoppers now.

“The pandemic has forever changed consumer shopping and buying behavior across industries. It also accelerated people’s awareness and interest in having their groceries and goods delivered. Grocery is the world’s largest retail category, but it’s still in the early stages of its digital transformation. We want to help everyone solve all of their food needs with Instacart, from inspiration to meal planning to delivery. For our brand partners, we’re helping them reach new customers as online grocery shopping adoption continues to grow. In the last year, we have enhanced and added new advertising features and tools to help our brand partners connect with their target audience in the digital aisles.”

Verizon’s Erin McPherson, VP, head of content and partnerships, says: “The need to innovate is at an all-time high. Brands are looking for partnerships that can help them provide unique experiences to customers. And, brands recognize Verizon’s strength as a leader in providing these experiences to a large audience giving them the scale that they desire.”

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