Evan Shapiro on the future of streaming, PSBs and TikTok

Evan Shapiro on the future of streaming, PSBs and TikTok

Monday, 4th March 2024
Evan Shapiro (Credit: John Stone)
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A warning from the US media

The day before filling a panellist’s chair at the RTS National Event “2024 TV predictions”, in late January, media universe cartographer and analyst Evan Shapiro appeared solo at a sold-out RTS London session.

“Content remains king – that’s not going to change,” he told a rapt Everyman King’s Cross audience. However, he added, there is a misperception “that most television watched on Earth is streaming – it’s just not true”.

In the US, more than half of viewing is still on broadcast or cable TV; in the UK and Europe, the figure is higher, because of their older populations and the “amount of free content you all make in your socialist countries”, he joked.

But Shapiro said that broadcasters have to do far more to attract younger viewers, who are wedded to YouTube, not traditional TV. “They’re not going to age into watching broadcast television,” he said, calling on public service broadcasters (PSBs) to “get on to YouTube, TikTok and Snap”.

As well as boosting audiences, the PSBs will be providing “fair and honest, trustworthy, quality journalism on social video”. If they don’t, he warned, they would be “ceding those platforms to the bad actors… [spreading] misinformation”.

“Understand your viewers,” he commanded. “If you’re making decisions about your product without people in the room who are under the age of 40, you’re going to lose touch with reality.”

He warned the UK TV industry to take a look at the “media apocalypse” in the US, “because you have time to… avoid the bad decisions that some of the media companies made” there.

“Paramount is on the block,” he said. “Apple could afford to buy it for the change [behind CEO] Tim Cook’s couch cushions.

“I don’t imagine Warner Bros., or Disco Brothers as I call them, will last as a standalone company much longer than a year…. I think Disney will ultimately sell, unless something changes dramatically about the trajectory of that company.

“It shows that, no matter how valuable your IP is, if you don’t have a really good business strategy, it doesn’t matter.”

Turning to artificial intelligence, Shapiro said that it is far less suited than human beings to fulfil a creative role: “The flaws that make people human make art different to something that a computer can generate.”

The “biggest use case for AI”, he continued, would be felt behind the scenes, doing “the weird back-office stuff, the engineering of… and discovery [of TV]… to allow every environment that I go into to be personalised for me… not in writing screenplays and playing roles in films.”

“An evening with Evan Shapiro” was held at the Everyman King’s Cross on 29 January. The RTS London event was chaired by Sarah Clerkson, Head of Intelligence and Insight at Channel 4, and produced by Phil Barnes.

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