Variety film and media reporter Angelique Jackson led a panel of industry figures discussing fan engagement for the Variety Entertainment Summit, in partnership with CES 2021.
The speakers included Lauren Anderson, co-head of content and programming at IMDb TV and Amazon Studios; Jeff Clanagan, CEO of Laugh Out Loud Network; Lisa Hsia, EVP of audience acquisition and growth at NBCUniversal Entertainment; Lucinda Martinez, EVP of HBO and HBO Max brand marketing; and Shane Rahmani, SVP and general manager of new media for Marvel Entertainment.
Clanagan kicked things off by acknowledging the essential function of a solid fanbase at a time when the streaming market is highly competitive.
“In order to service these fans, you have to have a fan base, because obviously there’s a million streaming platforms out there, big and small,” he said. “There’s a lot of fragmentation in the industry from a fan standpoint, so a fan has a lot of choices.”
“The way I look at things is that, especially when you look at the recent stats…about subscriptions, that the average household is going to subscribe to three, maybe four platforms…it gets real fragmented in terms of where or how fans are going to consume content,” he explained.
“Netflix and HBO Max and Disney Plus, they have huge brand recognition, and they’re legacy brands so people are already subscribing to [them],” he continued. “We’ve seen fans flock to those brands because they know what kind of content they’re going to get.”
Rahmani jumped in to expand on things further.
“People fundamentally crave a sense of [connectivity], a sense of belonging, a sense of mission and meaning, and that’s been magnified through COVID,” he said.
“We look at our brands, Marvel and some of the others within the Walt Disney Company and what we’re [seeing] is the fandom around these properties, they’re just as strong as…fans of sports teams or sports leagues,” he asserted.