VIP senior media analyst Gavin Bridge moderated a panel led by FilmTrack CEO Jason Kassin at the Variety Entertainment and Technology Summit, presented by City National Bank in October 2020.
The “Breakthrough Streamers Elite Roundtable” featured Kassin speaking with Meredith Gertler, EVP of content strategy and planning for HBO and HBO Max; Devin Griffin, general manager of BET Plus; Sean Kisker, EVP and chief strategy officer of direct-to-consumer at WarnerMedia; Mina Lefevre, head of development and programming for Facebook Watch; and Janelle Rodriguez, SVP of editorial at NBC News.
The panelists discussed key trends in the streaming and direct-to-consumer space and the overall streaming boom that stemmed from national stay-at-home orders resulting from COVID-19’s onset earlier in 2020, along with the solutions and strategies necessary for competing in the challenging film and TV landscape.
Griffin observed streaming patterns throughout the pandemic, such as how a lot of the traffic at BET+ was driven by audiences looking for shows and movies telling familiar stories that might bring a sense of stability and calm while stuck at home.
“People are looking for comfort food,” said Griffin. “There’s so much uncertainty right now, obviously people can’t go outdoors, move around as freely as they would like to, and so the stories that we’re able to tell at BET and BET+ are really targeted towards people that want to see their lives, themselves depicted in new and exciting ways.”
Classics like BET’s “Martin” succeeded in this manner, bringing in a high number of viewers, while content geared toward social issues, further enhanced by the rise in protests over police brutality and systemic racism, also gained traction throughout the summer.
As such, it remains a priority for streamers to be able to pivot to a variety of expectations when curating a diverse array of content.
“The thing that the Googles and the Facebooks of the world have exposed to us as consumers is that you have lots of choice,” Griffin said. “And then we as platforms need to work hard to bubble up and recommend the things that would fit your frame of mind, your mood at the right time.”