MIPTV, market valuations, progressive content, and the future of entertainment

Having recently watched Guy Bisson’s session “Understanding the future of entertainment” on MIPTV’s digital platform it was no surprise to hear Netflix now has a greater market value than the US oil giant ExxonMobil.

As of 17th April, shares in the company increased 5% to a record high of $448 (£360), taking its market value to $196 billion. It puts the company above rival Disney, which is valued at $183 billion. However, Disney has only just launched Disney+ in the UK and European markets this February and has already doubled its global subscriber base to 50 million and looks set for further rapid growth.

Netflix currently has over 160 million subscribers globally and is continuing to expand its slate of original commissions. On MIPTV’s digital forum, Bisson talked through the latest commissioning strategies of the major broadcasters and streamers. With Netflix by far the largest commissioner by volume, followed by BBC, and then Amazon, it is not surprising that it is able to position itself as the home of varied and engaging original content. It has had huge success most recently with the seven-part documentary series Tiger King, which tells the story of Joe Exotic, an eccentric breeder of big cats. This type of show has recreated the water-cooler moment on social media, with the ‘couldn’t-make-it-up’ moments and characters spawning countless memes and attracting significant organic interest.

Across all the commissioning channels and streamers there is a notable effort to produce progressive content. Bisson also discussed how 44% of all new content has a sole female lead and 13% now have a male/female co-leads rather than just a focus on a solo leading man. This shift in representation is also starting to come through across all genres of content. Mental health and #metoo are two key themes woven in to shows – and oftenmake the main narrative focus.

It’s a strategy which is clearly working. Just look at the market value of the companies. Astute commissioning and progressive content is drawing in subscribers by the millions.

Key industry figures have been talking about it for a long time. Back in 2015 John Lasseter, the Disney Animation Studios/Pixar chief, was telling people that “It’s very important to us … to have female and ethnic characters … it’s grown in importance over time. As you’ll see in future films, we’re really paying attention to that.”

It is something which has been bubbling under the surface for years and now is beginning to really gain momentum. Progressive content is only going to become more prevalent in the companies’ strategies in the coming years and will, likely, yield them massive profits. Let’s see how production resumes post-lockdown, and if the streamlined commissioning budgets will fan these flames even further, or stop current progressive trends in their tracks in favour of mass-targeting.