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NEM Dubrovnik 2024: Showcasing the future of CTV in Europe

At the start of the month, Wurl ventured to the historic Croatian city of Dubrovnik for NEM 2024, an annual summit that brings together the great and the good of European FAST and streaming media. This exclusive event, nestled in scenic views overlooking the Adriatic, serves as a key meeting point for industry leaders to exchange insights on the future of Connected TV (CTV) and advertising, exploring new technologies and strategies within this vibrant sector.

The highlight of the event for Wurl was our panel session, introduced by Keith Bedford, General Manager, EMEA, at Wurl, which broke down how Free Ad-Supported Television (FAST) can integrate and complement existing TV business models.

Our distinguished panelists included Victoria Davies, Managing Partner at Davies, Stoychev & Partners; Iza Piotrowska, Director of Affiliate Sales and Business Development at MEGA MAX MEDIA; Ben Packwood, VP Sales at All3Media International; and Karina Rompa, Business Development and Partnerships at Rakuten TV.

How can FAST complement existing business?

Keith took to the stage first, breaking down how FAST is evolving in the unique European market. A stark contrast was drawn between the growth trajectories in the U.S. and Europe. While the U.S. sees robust growth with projections reaching $10 billion by 2027, Europe’s growth is more tepid, attributed to market fragmentation and regulatory challenges. This disparity underscores different strategic approaches and market maturity levels.

In the U.S., premium content is rapidly moving to free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) channels, with major brands like AMC and NBC Universal expanding their offerings. This shift is less pronounced in Europe, where traditional public service broadcasters (PSBs) still dominate, though initiatives are underway to expand international content distribution.

Noteworthy is the early adoption by entities like All3Media, one of the panelists, which leverages its archives to create bespoke channels, thus capitalizing on the burgeoning FAST market in the UK, the U.S., and now new and expanding markets — showing promising revenue streams.

They also spoke about how correctly identifying content that is likely to work in multiple markets is a key strategy for making low-risk bets for overseas expansion. All3Media also mentioned how working with Wurl enabled them to quickly spin up channels to test in new markets, such as marketing Central and Eastern Europe.

This is a good way to avoid some of the unique challenges in Europe, such as multilingual requirements and diverse regulatory environments, which complicate the launch and monetization of FAST services. Despite these hurdles, opportunities abound, evidenced by platforms like Pluto TV making significant inroads into European markets.

Spotlight on: Wurl’s sunset party at Vala Beach

Wurl hosted an exclusive reception that brought together valued friends and partners for a night of celebration and networking. The event featured a live DJ setting the vibe with energetic beats, ambient lighting reflecting Wurl’s vibrant colors, and an abundance of drinks to ensure the evening was both enjoyable and unforgettable.

Strategic Moves and Monetization

Keith’s contribution concluded with a focus on monetization through services like AdPool, which employs AI for targeted ad insertion. This approach reflects a broader industry trend towards leveraging technology to enhance ad efficacy and revenue generation.

The discussion also touched on the role of content owners and the increasing importance of performance marketing to drive viewership and engagement, particularly in the competitive U.S. market where targeting and tracking capabilities are advanced.

Looking Ahead: The Role of Telcos and Integration

In Europe, the panelists all agreed that significant future development involves telecommunications companies (telcos) integrating FAST services into their offerings, creating seamless access for consumers. This integration promises to blend traditional and digital viewing experiences, potentially transforming consumer engagement with content in a way that European consumers are more accustomed to.

The FAST model is a key differentiator for telcos, who can offer a ‘cable-like’ experience for the end user in a cost effective way, with lower set-up costs due to technological improvements allowing for specialized channels. The use of AI-dubbing or subtitling is reducing localization costs further, allowing national telcos to create a more enticing offering for FAST consumers — and creating competition with state-funded PSBs.

A fantastic party vibe at a stunning venue

As the sun went down on the Wurl party at Vala Beach, the team had a chance to reflect on a fantastic opportunity at the NEM Dubrovnik conference. Undoubtedly there is a huge opportunity in Central and Eastern Europe, with plenty of cutting edge companies pushing the market forward.

Wurl’s panel highlighted the transformative trends in the CTV and advertising space, driven by technological advances and strategic market adaptations. With the U.S. leading in content innovation and Europe catching up, the global landscape of television and advertising continues to evolve, promising new opportunities and challenges for content creators and distributors alike. It was great to meet and talk to the people who are making that change happen.

Until next year!

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