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Analysts: Silver linings to be found in Covid-19 impact on TV industry

Enders Analysis releases report 'Silver linings for TV' looking at the impact of coronavirus on the industry and the positives that can be found in the sector's response

According to Enders Analysis, the TV industry can find some silver linings from the impact of Coronavirus on the industry.

In its latest report, the company said strategies launched through necessity during the pandemic will provide continued value beyond this period.

These include:

  • Leveraging the boost in reach of online services
  • Greater viewing by the young in groups and a demand for quality and trusted content, along with a degree of tolerance of programming incorporating video chat
  • Working-from-home and other business efficiencies
  • Renegotiating cost bases, even those that have in the past been considered fixed
  • Extending better relationships with advertisers and promoting the trusted environment of TV
  • Encouraging the nimble approach that has characterised the industry’s response to the pandemic

Enders admits there is still “a long way to go” before some sort of normality returns to the industry in terms of production output and advertising demand. It cites the the commissioning and production of quick turnaround programming about the virus or the reconfiguration of talk show formats to continue broadcasting, all while the bulk of staff have been working from home, as revealing the extent of the industry’s flexibility and capability.

The report goes on to look at different benefits the industry can find in how it has dealt with the pandemic lockdown, including its impact on production. It gives the optimisation of remote filming and production as one example. It also cites the advantage of filming in controlled environments like sound stages, virtual filming and virtual production (green screens, digital exterior volumes made of LED walls and projections instead of location shoots, e.g. The Mandalorian) as a clear advantage, suggesting these production processes will become an even bigger and more accepted part of production in future.

“One of the major upshots from these developments is that with a lot more work performed in preproduction, expensive—and hard to get—studio time is used almost entirely for filming, not for decision making or setting up sets. Real-time rendering of VFX will also eliminate much post production work,” said the report.

While most components of post production—such as video editing, titling, sound editing and mixing, dubbing, visual effects and processing—can now be carried out by staff working from home, Enders points out that, currently, they are slower and therefore more expensive. “Given the paucity of content being produced, up to this point this has not mattered as much—especially with the likes of animation, which can almost entirely be produced from home—but once any volume returns it is not sustainable in an environment already beset with price inflation and squeezed content budgets,” added the report.

“Broadcasters will now have a less sentimental understanding of the areas in which they truly must operate, which of their functions are superfluous and what is slowing them down and not adding quality to what the viewer sees. They, by necessity, will become leaner,” said Enders in the report’s summation.

“But perhaps most importantly, unlike some sectors, there is the knowledge that television hasn’t fallen apart,” it added. “Broadcast television will face a number of existential challenges in the next few years, it is important that it realises this strength and emboldens that asset for the fight.”

The full report is available to subscribers on the Enders Analysis website.