Facebook arrives at IBC; will Netflix-like dominance of European video market follow?

IBC will be held Sept. 14-19 in Amsterdam. (Pixabay)

Social networks have steadily and inexorably taken control of the broader internet, so it’s not surprising to see social begin to influence the programming agendas of conferences like IBC, which are steeped in internet video.

Indeed, IBC 2017 attendees will be able to feel Facebook’s gravity right when they walk in this year, with Daniel Danker, product director for the social networking giant, tentpoling the keynote opening panel event, “Fans, Friends and the Future of Broadcasting.”

Sure, there’s a lot going on at IBC—the move to live streaming, industry consolidation, new and sort of new technologies like virtual reality and 4K.

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But in other panel events like “Lies, Damn Lies and Alternative Facts: Striving for accuracy in a new world order,” featuring Associated Press Executive Editor Sally Buzbee, the influence of the social internet over traditional broadcast realms like news seems close at hand.

With Facebook aggressively moving into video distribution, the question on a lot of European minds will be if the social giant can establish the kind of dominance in Europe that Netflix has.

Beyond merely cultivating large subscriber bases in the region, American SVOD services, specifically Netflix, have been credited with keeping the U.K.'s film and TV production business afloat, despite slumping domestic revenue, for example.

RELATED: Netflix, Amazon boost slumping U.K. production business

Overall, international distribution sources ordered nearly £789 million ($1 billion) in programming in the U.K. last year, a 5.3% uptick, according to producers' association Pact. International digital suppliers accounted for more than half that total. Specifically, Pact said that Netflix and international SVOD suppliers generated $163.88 million in sales in the U.K. in 2016, with shows like “The Crown” and “Black Mirror” figuring in prominently.

Time will tell if Facebook’s aggressive effort to turn itself into a video distribution force will exert the same level of influence for the European broadcast scene—or even more—than Netflix. In the U.S., Facebook’s aspiration to be a TV content creator will finally come to fruition, with basketball-themed reality show “Ball in the Family” generating buzz following its Aug. 31 debut.

Again, in the realm of digital technology, the emergence of Facebook is just one trend we’ll be watching for at IBC.

According to Parks Associates Senior Research Director Brett Sappington, other subtle themes emerging at this year’s IBC will include “a heightened focus on live content,” as well as “increased attention on [artificial intelligence] and data analysis in entertainment.”

Sappington’s colleague, Parks Senior Analyst Glenn Hower, also noted the globalization of OTT—perhaps a direct nod to the ever-expanding power of U.S. SVOD services Netflix and Amazon.

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