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International Exec You Should Know: Keith Hindle

FremantleMedia CEO aims company's strategy for Web content across borders

FremantleMedia is a major player in the television biz — producing and distributing such global franchises as “X Factor,” “Got Talent” and “Idol.” But increasingly its focus is shifting to new media, putting the spotlight on Keith Hindle, CEO of digital and branded entertainment for the company.

Thanks to traffic generated by its existing franchises, Fremantle is already a force in the digital space. Last year, it racked up more than 7 billion views of its content on YouTube, up from 4.5 billion in 2012, and 2 billion in 2011.

“That makes us bigger globally on YouTube than any other television provider or movie studio or content creator in the world,” Hindle says.

As a new generation of consumers migrates online, advertisers are following. “One of the first reasons for turning to digital is that it gives us the ability to get an idea in front of a much younger audience, who wouldn’t naturally be watching television,” Hindle explains. A way to do that is by developing online multichannel networks, especially those on YouTube.

“The next step in the evolution of those (networks) is into more discreet genres,” Hindle says. “We spent a lot of time across the company thinking (not only) about which (genres) are the most attractive to enter, but also (which are) the ones we have good skill-sets in.”

Fremantle has decided to focus chiefly on fashion, food, automotive and general entertainment, which encompass the company’s big talent and entertainment shows.

The conglom has established itself in the vertical dedicated to animals with the Pet Collective, which features “animals cams” of kittens, cats, puppies and dogs. Fremantle’s inaugural YouTube channel, it has shown how genre programming can reach a large global audience.

“What would be (small) niches before effective digital distribution have now become niches that are of scale, so they are practical to serve,” Hindle says. “So even though it would be hard on television to reach people obsessed with Corgis, we have managed to find an enormous number of them to come to Pet Collective.”

By harnessing digital distribution to social media, Fremantle can build its relationship with a niche audience via Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The company has been focusing its development on projects that can work across media.

“We (build in) a huge amount of interactivity around our shows now,” Hindle says. “ ‘X Factor’ in the U.S. is a massively social show, (with) huge levels of interactivity, but the Holy Grail is a format where interactivity is woven into the fundamental elements of the show,” he adds.

The exec notes that Fremantle also is creating IP that’s targeted purely to online, partly in response to advertisers’ demand for content that crosses borders.

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