Horizons Newsletter – week 8 // 2021
Horizons is a bi-monthly Dasym Research initiative to show you how the Dasym themes have been in the news. We publish the Horizons on our website and as an email newsletter. If you wish to receive the email, please contact Investor Relations.
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Peak TV on hold, for now
The pandemic has created a paradox: while audiences stuck at home are streaming more content than ever, content producers are dealing with the production constraints that COVID-19 has imposed. Across the board, production delays have forced TV networks and streamers to rely more heavily on unscripted series (reality shows and animation) and acquired content (licensing shows from foreign networks). In addition, limited series – or miniseries – shifted back into focus. According to FX Networks’ annual estimate of the total number of scripted television series, 2020 was the first year to show a dip – a 7% decline from 2019. Although recent headlines suggested the coronavirus pandemic might have brought about the peak in what FX CEO John Landgraf once coined as ‘peak TV’, early signs indicate a renewed increase of commissioning scripted content. With HBO Max, Disney+, Peacock and Apple TV+ still in rapid expansion mode, Amazon’s continuing growth and Netflix’s appetite for scripted series remaining intact, the 2020 decline could just be a dent in an upward trend.
Newsletters have their moment
In our 2020 holiday-edition, we already set the spotlight on Substack as a trend; and since news is moving fast, we might reach another peak interest in newsletters. Twitter, for instance, acquired Revue: a free service to publish and monetize newsletters. Facebook also plans newsletter tools and Forbes is launching a newsletter platform that will allow journalists to start their own paid newsletters. Mature Substacks are entering the fray as well: the team behind the popular ‘Everything Bundle’ newsletter collection will launch its own newsletter platform after receiving $600,000 in seed funding. Nevertheless, it is not the first time that new technology is creating a peak in newsletters. In the 1930s, the first mimeograph, a low-cost duplicating machine, enabled regular people to become their own publishers. What might be different today is the question of how many newsletters or newsletter platforms can be successful. In video streaming, people stick to two or three paid services and only a few influencers can make a living from their streams, hinting at a likely shakeout in the newsletter industry as well.
Audio is joining the club
‘Twitter in audio’, responsive podcasts, interactive radio, these are just a few ways to describe the invite-only audio social network app Clubhouse. People around the world are gathering in audio chatrooms to discuss a broad variety of topics, from strictly moderated seminars on sustainable investing to discussions on how to bake the perfect cheesecake. Clubhouse represents a new form of social media that moves beyond text (e.g. Twitter), pictures (e.g. Instagram) and videos (e.g. TikTok) and returns to old-fashioned voice. Members can join live conversations and participate – but only if they feel like it and if the moderators allow it. This live and interactive social format is a logical next step in the evolution of audio, following the pre-recorded listen-when-you-want podcast. People seeking new ways to connect during the pandemic fuel Clubhouse’s popularity. The app almost acts as an alternative for casual meetings in a club or bar. It will be interesting to discover how the consumption of (live) social audio will evolve and which content types will stick and fit new consumer habits, after the pandemic subsides.