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Back at Work? Global TV Industry Survey Reveals Office Anxiety, Virtual Fatigue and Hopes For Mipcom (EXCLUSIVE)

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Fewer than one in 10 executives working across the international TV industry wants to go back to full-time office work following the pandemic, and 60% think in-person industry events should require COVID-19 testing, a new survey has found.

The inaugural Content Industry Monitor from podcast TellyCast and fledgling agency WorkShare Consulting surveyed around 500 people from the industry, with its results serving as a timely litmus test for how individuals feel about returning to work and live events. Those surveyed — around half of whom are based in the U.K. — worked in production and production-adjacent companies, as well as distributors, streamers, broadcasters, format developers and research/trade press.

The survey found that just 9% of executives want to go back to offices on a full-time basis. Instead, the vast majority of industry office workers want a balance in working environments, with 26% of respondents preferring either 3 days per week or 2 days a week (21%) back in their regular pre-pandemic office space.

Around 60% of TV executives reported working longer hours during the pandemic, and 55% said they had increased stress levels. Videoconferencing could have been a contributing factor, as just under half (43%) found video calls went on for too long.

Indeed, 64% found virtual events a worse experience than live events, but 53% expect them to remain a significant part of the industry and how it does business going forward. The ideal duration for a virtual event is 2 hours (36%), compared to half a day (27%) or a full day (14%).

The must-attend event for those surveyed is October’s Mipcom market, which 51% said they plan on attending, followed by MipTV 2022 (47%). Around 30% plan to attend the Edinburgh TV Festival this summer; 26% hope to attend Realscreen in the U.S.; 23% are looking to travel to IBC; and 19% want to attend NATPE and NEM.

However, safety is a major concern for prospective delegates, as 60% think that live events should require COVID-19 testing as an entry requirement. Interestingly, nearly half (47%) said only vaccinated attendees should be permitted to these events.

Toll on business

On the business side, 47% said the pandemic has had some negative impact but no redundancies were required, while 36% admitted to a negative impact with cost-cutting and/or redundancies needed. Just 4% indicated an “extremely negative” impact in which the company was at risk of collapse without outside intervention.

Cost-cutting was focused on salaries (49%), marketing spend (47%), growth investment (45%), office space (36%) and client spending (34%). The least amount of cuts were in equipment (11%); other, which covers festivals, travel and hospitality, production costs and redundancies (11%); diversity schemes (6%); and IT (4%).

Close to a fifth of respondents (19%) are generating revenues exceeding those pre-pandemic, and 34% expect to see a return to pre-COVID levels in 12-18 months. Additionally, 77% are either extremely confident or confident about retaining employment in the next 6 months, with little sign of the recession hitting jobs confidence in the TV industry this summer.

Regarding employer safety measures, the vast majority said their employers had made health and safety a priority in the last year (60%), with only 4% saying their bosses don’t take COVID-19 seriously.

The survey also asked respondents about their perceptions of diversity and inclusion in the industry, with 83% of respondents reporting a lack of Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic (BAME) representation, while 66% said there isn’t a level playing field for BAME individuals to progress to leadership roles.

In contrast, 60% said there was a level playing field for women to progress to leadership roles.

Commenting on the survey, Jonathan Broughton, managing director of Workshare Consulting, said: ”The Content Industry Monitor represents an amazing opportunity to understand the readiness of the industry to return and to tackle critical questions in the market. Whether that be a return to physical events or working in an office, this partnership with TellyCast has been an amazingly revealing and rewarding experience.”

TellyCast founder Justin Crosby added: “I wanted to mark a year of TellyCast podcasts and by teaming up with WorkShare we’re doing exactly that with our Content Industry Monitor. It’s packed with revealing insights into a year in TV, the likes of which we’ve never seen before. I hope industry executives will find the survey as fascinating as we do”.