SMF Ignite: Digital Creation Not Threatening

Co-existence and opportunity, not competitive threat, was the message that emerged from SMF Ignite, a conference on digital content in Singapore on Tuesday.

The sessions were held at Pixel Studios, the new permanent facilities for short-form storytelling opened this week at One North, Singapore. The building also contains production facilities incubator offices and a Star Wars Battle Pod loaned by Disney.

Antoine Nazaret, head of content at European YouTube rival Dailymotion, insisted that “the business model of TV is not dying at all.” Instead he suggested that digital environment is a model driven by sponsorship and product placement.

Sashim Parmanand, CEO of 8-year-old Singapore cartoon company, One Animation, said that working for traditional TV companies such as Disney and Nickelodeon to a commission and licensing model was the starting point for her company and remains key. However, advertising revenue from digital platforms this year is on course to be up 70% this year. That, she suggested, puts digital creators with strong content in a better bargaining position with platforms and broadcasters. “Content creators need to be bold (and push for more deal points,)” she said.

The quality of digital storytelling was a recurring theme among speakers. “Great story will be found on any platform. The inflection point for Netflix was ‘House of Cards’,” said Parmanand. She suggested that if the mantra for creators using traditional media was story, story, story, the one for digital producers should be story, character, character.”

Derek Tan, co-founder of Singapore-based streaming platform Viddsee, said that non-traditional players are becoming storytellers. “Brands are becoming publishers too,” he said. “They may not be using pre-roll, but are often playing pure advertisements.”

The digital medium’s use of data may be a double-edged sword. Nazaret pointed to an example where Dailymotion had helpfully shown a European news provider that its audience was turning off in droves during the last 10 seconds of online clips – and therefore losing control of where viewers click next – but he also suggested a degree of deliberate obfuscation.

“The confusion is deliberate. Platforms cannot even agree even on how views are measured,” Nazaret said, who said that Dailymotion’s emphasis is not on sheer numbers, but on viewer retention. “Even Facebook got it wrong.”

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