The Global Open Innovation Network is an open innovation initiative created and operated by Choose Paris Region. It gathers well-established corporate groups that want to stay ahead of innovation and disruptive technologies and engage with fellow innovators. A TechMeeting is an event tackling topics such as Mobility, Cleantech, Connected Health, Smart Buildings, Sustainable Construction and more. This session around Entertainment & New Media gathered industry experts Tatiana Tacca, an independent consultant & advisor in the gaming and E-sports world, and John Zozzaro, specialist of the entertainment and media industry and founder of MediaTech Ventures.
Florian – Choose Paris Region: In the past we have seen that Media & Entertainment industry companies were focusing on their core offerings. Marvel was a comic book company, ESPN was a sports network, Mattel a toy company. Lately, we observing that each of those companies tend to create a world around their idea: toys, movies, games. We are now talking about the “Star Wars extended universe” for example, or the “Marvel universe”.
Therefore, what is an entertainment company in 2021?
John Zozzaro: To answer this question, I believe it is important to appreciate the evolution of media since its conception to really understand how we got here. Media and its initial inception were very distinct verticals that were undefined as media at the time, it was news, newspapers, TV, etc. What we ended up seeing is these media industries like marketing, advertising, publishing, and radio films and so on, the internet consolidated all that in a very big way. More than that it forced a few things to happen:
1/ It forced the old and outdated publishing or marketing practices to modernize and adopt digital infrastructure or technologies and brand their companies to the 21st century.
2/ It gave birth to video games through VR and AR and other new types of distribution that are continuously growing exponentially year after year.
Today, we can clearly see that Disney or Warner and other conglomerates have now multiple business units designed to produce products and content from different segments. It’s now impossible to be just a music company or a gaming company because everything is interconnected. Being a tech, finance, and media company with a community element around that is the future of entertainment so they can manage and lead a market without being afraid of their competitors.
Tatianna Tacca: To add a perspective from the gaming industry, is the importance of emphasizing individual fandoms, and individual communities that are built around those fandoms. People’s interest is now very diverse so it’s an opportunity to diversify multiple media or touchpoints when it comes to popular cultures and the gaming or animated movie industry are starting to recognize that. For example, League of Legends is developing a TV series on Netflix as well as DOTA which they never thought about it before. Those big video game name are now conscious of the multitouch points and are now building a focus in music for example, League of Legends is developing multiple music bands specifically based around their game.
Multiple universes creating the Metaverse
Florian – Choose Paris Region: We are observing many companies being created in the metaverse space lately – metaverse being a virtual collaborative world where a user appears as an avatar being able to connect and interact with their surrounding as well as other users.
What do you think about this new trend?
John Zozzaro: People need to appreciate that this idea of worlds colliding digitally has been going on for a very long time, buying gold online and transact was already part of this digital world. As technology continues to evolve and as connectivity continues to improve, we’re seeing more and more opportunities to bring these worlds together. As example, those music performances in Fortnite are successful because technologically talking, it was not possible before. Talking about a tech, finance and media company with a community around, those metaverses are doing exactly that and they are doing extremely well today. The expansion of VR/AR and it will affect those metaverses in many ways in the near future.
Tatianna Tacca: These open space based games which gives you the full opportunity of inter-create with multiple servers for multiple communities to get together have been very successful already. Roblox, Minecraft, and Fortnite in many ways have done an incredible job in gathering people together and giving the possibility to create own personal gaming world or experience. Brands are now looking for those particular ways to activate a new audience in a scalable way, and those creative in-game modes are becoming normal ways to do that.
What is great with this idea of the metaverse is the depth of opportunities because they become virtual playgrounds, and this is a very powerful idea. The concept will continue to grow as gaming is already a space for socialization, creative connections, and bringing like-minded people together.
Florian – Choose Paris Region: How can a production business or video content creator fit into those metaverse?
Tatianna: Metaverse is an undefined thing at the moment so we will have better insights in the future but for now the answer would be packaging things that occurs in the metaverse and producing them into specific content series or videos that are actually showcasing what the metaverse is and how it looks like and bringing it into the real world.
Florian – Choose Paris Region: In Korea, Mateverse companies gathered to create one ubiquitous metaverse in a project alliance.
Do you think that could be the case in the US in the next few years by create a unique metaverse similarly to the modern internet?
John Zozzaro: Technology always thrives on its capability to adapt to its surroundings, whether that is through connectivity, APIs integrations etc. so it makes sense for these communities to come together to create something more substantial because they will add more value to each other so it’s likely plausible to see a lot of those companies getting together in the next few years.
We went digital during the pandemic, what about tomorrow?
Florian – Choose Paris Region: We have seen during the presentation of the industry that the digitization was increasing over the past few years and the pandemic has drastically support this trend. We have seen physical events moved online, graduation ceremony on Animal crossings, politic meetings on Twitch, concerts on Fortnite. What changes did happen during the pandemic? Will those digital activities remain after the reopening?
Tatianna Tacca: Since the pandemic, we observed an 89% increase in gaming conversation on Twitter. Each month, quarter, and year we also observed a record breaking in virtual sells in gaming, and a 87% increase in live streaming platform like Twitch and Youtube. We are then looking at a constant increase in playing, watching, and discussing about gaming allowing brands to increase their virtual activation on those platforms: 79% increase in sponsor branded live steams on Twitch and Youtube via influencers creating custom content.
For a brand, even if the core ask is not around live streaming, it undoubtedly ends up becoming a part of a brand campaign, because there is so much value and scale in it. All of this led to a general acceleration of brands and main streams experience and relationship with gaming, live streaming, and e-sports. Very innovative things came out of it, for example Burberry did its first ever London Fashion show as a Twitch live stream since they could not do it physically, or Post Malone did a collaboration with Pokemon with an animated concert on live stream.
John Zozzaro: The reason why the media industry is so successful and continues to thrive has a lot to do with the nature of what makes up the beast in a sense. If we look from a federal state of point in the US, the definition of media and creative is outdated, so there are implications, and it effects on private equity and on the private sector level. When we understand that publishing, advertising, journalism, gaming etc. defined as media, it broadens the horizons of the implications from a Venture Capital, or from an investment standpoint and media will always be a constant, no matter the economic circumstance.
We observed with the pandemic that the entertainment industry was completely decimated from a music live performance standpoint when they were not able to use technology to produce digital content. On the other hand, we have seen massive up-take: Joe Rogan received a $100.00M from Spotify, podcasts, Netflix, and video games go exponentially so it shows the benefits of investing in media because whether there is an economic crisis or not, whether there is a pandemic or not, parts of media will go down when other will constantly to thrive exponentially.
Then, which innovative technologies will thrive in the next few years?
Florian – Choose Paris Region: Year after year, the VR technology has still the most annual growth rate in the Entertainment & New Media industry. We have heard of VR since 2012, we can see many companies developing VR headsets and VR applications. Yet, VR has not come to every households like TV or smartphones have.
What is the reason for that and what are the next big innovations in the gaming and e-sports world?
Tatianna Tacca: For now, VR still has a lot of barriers that it has previously. It is an expensive technology, there are not a lot of games and experiences available and adapted for it and it is not as easy to use as a mobile phone, console or computer. What we see is that VR has not reach the mass scaling stage of adoption yet, but there already phenomenal opportunities and especially in the E-sports world. League of Legends or Call of Duty for examples are very accessible for everyone to find and play, when it comes to VR, it is a bit trickier at this stage when it comes to a specific gaming title. Nonetheless, there many things exciting coming up, the technology is evolving quickly so big revolutions in VR will be discovered soon.
In the gaming and e-sports world, we see a lot of innovation in the creation and development of own virtual spaces and experiences. You can now create your own maps on Fortnite, you can build a new challenge or experience in GTA and this is really a way to expand the video game world to other experiences like music, or reunions of all sorts. Interactivity leveraged for live streams is also drastically growing, for instance predictions, voting system, and new elements coming alongside to the chat developed by Twitch to expand the viewer experience.
Often forgotten, there are a lot of new safety innovation as well, to make people feel more comfortable in other people’s environment.
John Zozzaro: It is important to appreciate the role that media plays in the world right now and how companies like Facebook and Twitter need to understand the implications of their platforms and how they affect the world positively and negatively, so the question is really how to adapt to our current societies. Hopefully, we are going to see a new paradigm with the new Web 3.0 applications, blockchain continues to be adapted, and see more transparency across media, and consolidations. If we look at SPACS (Special purpose acquisition companies) for example, where they usually average 5 to 10 a year, there was over 100 last year and we can see massive media consolidations in these SPACS with billions of dollars in transactions just to be publicly traded, which is mitigating a lot of investments risks.
On other fields, 5G, which is around the corner, will redefine media and how it’s delivered to public once again, which will bring even more people to the internet.
Florian – Choose Paris Region: For people with a divergent continuity across corporate and entertainment ecosystems, how will new value, advantage and sustainability in venture strategy be affected as priorities evolve and are stakeholders agile and aligned for these advisor/development pivots ahead?
John Zozzaro: It is important to understand that conglomerates that run the world, any media that we consume is owned by 8 companies. Conglomerates and diversifying portfolios from a subsidiary and ownership standpoint is the future, it’s much easier from a capital standpoint to be involved in things that make sense rather than the all pie. We can already see that trend in the music space where artists are starting to define themselves as corporations, one subsidiary holds they likeness, one subsidiary holds their masters, one subsidiary holds they licensing opportunities and people can pick and choose their flavors. BMG could for example invest in the licensing app portion of it because they do over a billion dollars in licensing a year, whereas Sony might be interested in the likeness of them and invest a portion of that. At the end, everybody wins because all of them are promoting it so they all have a portion of the pie.
It is going to be effective based off of reaching the value, technology and how we’re going to evaluate it, but capital is not ready for it and haven’t been for a long time, which is why there are so many fragmentations when it comes to define how to segment it. If we are looking at the TOP 5 media companies that trade at close to a trillion-dollar market cap, we can easily observe some similarities how they are set up and how they function.
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