Goteborg’s Nostradamus Report Predicts SVOD Service Contraction, Arthouse Cinema Renaissance

Powered by Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV Plus and Disney Plus, among others, the subscription video on demand market is booming. But in five years from now, it will have contracted with no single service fully dominating the landscape, according to the 7th Nostradamus Report, which forecasts trends in film and TV.

The thorough study was presented by its author, Johanna Koljonen, during the Nordic Film Market at the Göteborg Film Festival on Friday.

Entitled “A Creative Explosion,” the report highlights key trends for the next three-to-five years with six chapters dedicated to “Diversity Beyond 50/50,” “After The Streaming Wars,” “The Pain And Glory of Feature Film,” “The Irishman In the Window,” “Boom Year Problems” and “Insight As Leverage.”

The report is based on collected data and media analysis and built around a wide range of interviews with industry experts, including Alex Mahon, CEO of Channel 4; Lars Blomgren, Endemol Shine Group’s executive producer and head of scripted, EMEA; Anna Croneman, head of drama at Swedish broadcaster SVT; Bérénice Vincent, the co-founder of org 50/50 and co-founder of Totem Films; and Philip Knatchbull, CEO of Curzon.Other experts interviewed for the report include Leon Forde, the managing director of Olsberg SPI;

Also interviewed were Stine Helgeland, the Norwegian Film Institute’s head of communications, strategic insight and international relations; Alexandra Lebret, managing director of the European Producers Club; Fabio Lima, the founder-CEO of Brazil’s Sofa Digital; and Susanna Snell, head of audience insight at Finnish public broadcaster Yle.

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The study predicts that no one streaming service will clearly dominate in five years time, but Apple and Google will dominate devices on the Operating System level; Amazon will join them as a marketplace. DisneyPlus is expected to do well thanks to its catalog, and Netflix should remain strong, but will be under pressure for at least one more year due to its large debt, the report said.

Overall, premium subscription-based services will lose ground as many viewers will opt for content bundles, while ad-supported streaming services will become more prominent, particularly for broadcast brands. Broadcasters, meanwhile, will increasingly work hand-in-hand with their streaming service first and will use linear as a “marketing window for their content.”

Mahon said the current rise of streaming services will spark “the disappearance of lots of small production companies” over the next five years; Blomgren foresees that services like HBO Max, Disney Plus, Apple TV Plus that are focusing on English content at the launch phase will “start looking seriously at the rest of the world.”

With regards to gender equality, the Nostradamus Report predicts that “we will not have reached 50/50 by 2020, and minorities are still under-represented, but working for diversity has become an obvious necessity.” “Five years from now, industry decision-making will be close to gender equal,” said the report.

Speaking about diversity, Mahon said Channel 4 was already ahead of the curve with 50% of the company’s top 100 being female. “I’m also trying to move the organization to 20% black Asian minority ethnic by 2023, and upping the social mobility across the organization,” said Mahon, adding that Channel 4 was roughly at “11% percent on disability, and 8% on LGBT — exceeding (the company’s) targets for these groups.”

Blomgren, meanwhile, said it was “in everyone’s DNA now to look very carefully at balancing the package in any larger production. If the script is by a grey haired man, the director would be young and ideally a woman.”

Knatchbull said more than half of all employees at Curzon are women but added that he was concerned about Brexit because a lot of the company’s employees are E.U. nationals. “I’m worried about the U.K. becoming cut off from Europe. Losing the diversity that comes from everybody being able to commingle and not worry about where they’re from and where they’re based,” the executive said.

In one of its most interesting chapters, the Nostradamus Report foresees a revival in arthouse movies. “Five years from now, the industry will be in the midst of a renaissance of cinema culture,” it predicted, envisaging “arthouse and mid-sized movies will be pushing back against blockbuster dominance.”

Citing “Parasite,” “The Favorite,” “The Lighthouse” and “Uncut Gems,” the report says a “new wave of filmmakers is creating a sense of excitement about feature film unheard of since the 1990s.” The report says streaming services have contributed to enriching the feature film landscape by giving filmmakers hands-off funding, as well as “training audiences in enjoying narratively complex, often original IPs, as well as in reading subtitles.”

That said, the report predicts a continuing polarization of the theatrical marketplace between blockbusters and smaller, challenging arthouse films.

“There is a widening gap between the huge, commercial products, and the very distinctive films, which I would call elevated arthouse films (such as) ‘Parasite,’” said Vincent.

Knatchbull said he predicts that there will be a decline of 20% in global cinema admissions in five years, as films’ theatrical windows shrink. “As windows change, and release patterns change, cinemas will become more a marketing platform for a film’s life span, which will cascade down through different streaming platforms and other sales channels over many years,” added the executive.

The Nostradamus report was created with the support of Film i Väst, with additional support from Region Västra Götaland, Nordisk Film & TV Fond and Kulturakademin.

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