I want to share some of the insights Christine Molinares provided on our 15min interview conducted on June 26th, 2019. Christine is the Director of Content and Programming for UniMas, a Univision Communications, Inc. network and has been on the TV Industry for 20+ years.
How have social media and digital platforms changed the TV Industry over the past five years?
The TV Industry has been rapidly changing. Let’s say 10 years ago, when streaming services were starting, think about Netflix, everybody was trying to figure out what impact it was going to have on linear television, was it going to disappear after this? What are we going to do? And even going into the markets to buy content was throwing a pebble into our acquisitions and workflows because nobody was sure of how things were going to change.
Things got a little messy for a few years. However, for the past two- or three-years things have started to get organized. The rise of streaming services, Video on Demand, short-form content on YouTube, have created an explosion of content because everyone wants to produce content to be featured in these platforms and sell it because that is what generates money. Us, as viewers, consume content everywhere. For us, in Linear Free TV, we know that the way to generate money is through sports and news, this is where our advertisers want to put all their money and those are big marketing priorities for a company as Univision.
For a viewer, it is normal to consume content as news and sports in linear television and they are ok with commercial breaks, they expect that, and that is part of the buildup for news and the buildup for sports. It is the natural way of consuming that content. Now, when it comes to entertainment content, it is a whole different monster, because you have so many options and you can watch TV everywhere and companies are trying to battle out who gets the content first.
What are the threats and opportunities in this new environment in television?
One of the main opportunities companies have now is that they are starting to buy streaming services to support their linear platforms. For example, VIACOM bought PlutoTV, which is soon to be launched in the US Hispanic and Latin American markets. VIACOM also realized that they can’t just be selling out their content, they have to retain those rights because they have streaming services.
I think at one point all major companies will be owning their own streaming services, and we see it with Disney and their new platform launching soon, pulling their content from Netflix, because they are able to monetize this without an intermediary. For sure I think it will be a limited number of streaming services that will dominate the market.
We also saw an interesting example with Crackle, which was owned by Sony. This service wasn’t Netflix because they had commercials and advertisers, generating money with this, but in terms of audience, never translated. Let’s think about this, if you have Netflix, which is commercial free, why would you want to go to a platform where you have commercial breaks? It doesn’t make any sense.
I think there is a space for linear and there is a space for streaming, but at the end of the day, the major TV companies will be owning those streaming services.
How can we, as TV Industry experts, adapt and merge to this new landscape? What skills do we need as marketers?
We need to be flexible, and I think we need to be able to provide a full service to our viewers. A 360-degree brand approach with different touchpoints with the brand throughout the customer’s journey. You need to cover it all. You need to have social, printed, on-air promotions, you need a little bit of everything. When we think about Free TV, because Cable TV is a little different, we need to be up to date with the latest of everything. We need a seamless transition between our TV sets and our apps, offering content on platforms like YouTube and having a strong social media presence.
What mistakes do you think top executives make when creating a big-picture strategy and how can they recover from those?
For us, we plan our strategies years in advance, so we can get ahead of the competitors, however, many times we look over the details that truly make a project succeed or fail. We all make mistakes one way or the other, because we are creating a big picture strategy for different generations that will experience our brand. We try to think what that new generation that will consume my content will want, often we fail, but this is what keeps us innovative and thinking outside the box. But for me, the most important think when we make mistakes is to pivot, see why the mistake happened, what are the learnings and quickly move on to the next project.
Insights and data are also key when recovering from these mistakes. That is why it is so important to conduct studies, focus groups, pilot tests, among others, to see how your audience wants to consume the content and what types of content they are actually interested in throughout their journey with your brand, so we can notice those generational differences early on in the game.
For example, when my 4-year-old son becomes 18, he is going to be a completely different person from the 18-year-old viewer I currently have on UniMas. That is why gathering data is so important in the process of launching new campaigns.
How is branding important for a TV Network?
The most important thing for TV Networks in branding is that it has to be consistent across all platforms. Sometimes we see elements of the brand image reflected on linear that are not reflected in their streaming services or the social media platforms. Branding needs to be cohesive and across everything that the audience touches and interacts with.
How important is quality content in creating strategies?
Even though many people say content is key, for me emotions are the key. It is all about content that has an emotional hook, being relevant and current and most important, that the audience can feel identified with. So, does it have to be uber quality? Not necessarily in my opinion. It doesn’t have to be a $20 million-dollar production in order to be successful, as long as our audience can relate to it.