The third Content Summit Russia was held in Moscow as part of the CSTB. Telecom & Media 2020. It is an annual forum that brings together cinema industry stakeholders – film directors, producers, distributors, and film critics. Content Summit Russia is a relatively new initiative; however, it has become a key venue for discussing the specifics of creating movies, latest trends, success stories, sensational news and leading smash hits.
The first day of the Content Summit Russia Forum started with a full-scale analysis. TV and Video Content session moderated by Kseniya Boletzkaya, Editor, Media Section, Vedomosti, showcased research findings on TV and video content consumption in 2019. Kseniya Achkasova, Executive Director, MediaScope, presented an overview of TV viewing in Russia. It appears that 66 % of people spend 3 hours and 40 minutes daily watching TV. They prefer entertainment, music, and children’s’ programs, as well as movies and TV series. Specifically, this session emphasized the value of capturing data on villages and municipalities with small populations.
Panel discussion “Traditional television in a competitive environment” brought together representatives of major operators, media holding companies and TV channels, including Grigory Lavrov, CEO, Media Alliance; Dmitry Borisov, General Producer, Channel One Russia Worldwide; Alexander Kosarim, Director of Content Policy, Rostelecom; Arsen Khomutov, Content Director, Tricolor; Irina Savchenko, Deputy Director of Internet Streaming, Channel One; Kseniya Gordienko, Head of Animation, STS; and Andrei Gromkovsky, Vice-President, UFC Russia. Experts pointed out that talking about the death of linear TV is premature, since compared to the online segment linear broadcasting offers opportunities to monetize content much more effectively and efficiently. Besides, current market trends include the emergence of niche supply and the growing role of animation production and sports programs. Panelists believe that market consolidation – which is occurring at a sluggish pace – is inevitable.
Two subsequent sessions moderated by Susanna Alperina, Editor, Humanities Section, Rossiyskaya Gazeta, were sponsored by the Cinema and TV Producer Association. The first one entitled “Russian content: production and distribution” focused on the technological context of developing multi-genre projects and provided a detailed summary of motion pictures and TV series that were recently released or are still in the pipeline.
Panelists included Sergei Selyanov, Chairman of the Board, Cinema and TV Producer Association and CEO of STV; Alexander Akopov, Co-founder and Producer, Cosmos Studio; Fyodor Bondarchuk, Founder and Co-Incorporator, Art Pictures Studio, Chairman of the Board, Lenfilm Studio, producer, film director, and actor; Vlad Ryashin, Founder and General Producer, Star Media; Rafael Minasbekyan, CEO, GPM KIT Group; Makar Kozhukhov, Director of Content Strategy, OKKO Entertainment/Rambler Group; and Alexander Kott, film director, scriptwriter and producer.
Sergei Selyanov emphasized that the focus is increasingly shifting towards the production of content that is not designed for the big screen segment. Multiplatform setting implies using target orientation strategies, which, in turn, enable to engage more channels in distribution. Therefore, he believes that for the time being project developers should mainly focus on finding new ways of unfolding the story and delivering narratives which are primarily attractive for online services. From now on, cinema industry should be ruled by a scriptwriter capable of creating stories that can be released online.
Referring to the “Madman”, his first series for more.tv, Fyodor Bondarchuk pointed out that producing content for online platforms offers significant freedom of artistic creativity and an opportunity to widen the spectrum of themes. He added that cinematic universe movies seem to be a promising segment of the big screen business; these films are hard to produce, but they remain an attractive and highly relevant asset.
Alexander Akopov argued that there is essentially no drastic difference between offline and online audiences. Basically, contemporary viewers create demands that are increasingly difficult to satisfy with conventional TV products. In this context, there is a need to produce higher quality content, which is quite complex due to the lack of funding. A solution would be bringing together TV channels and content producers so that they agree to have fewer projects with bigger, bolder production budgets.
Alexander Kott believes, to the contrary, that the TV industry has a better understanding of target audiences and their needs, that’s why there is a huge difference between developing projects for TV channels and online platforms. However, the majority of panelists argued that online platforms have very good knowledge of their viewers; they even know them by name. With this topic, panelist exchange on content consumption formats was concluded.
Vlad Ryashin elaborated on the distribution of domestic projects worldwide. In his opinion, stating that Russia’s motion picture industry has created a breakthrough would be premature. Ryashin defined success as selling the first Russian series abroad for at least 100 thousand dollars per episode.
Makar Kozhukhov focused on digital opportunities for video content. Specifically, he referred to the experience of launching a vertical video platform which OKKO used to produce ten vertical TV series. Alexander Akopov argued that vertical video is not user-friendly and offers little or no room for creative film-making.
Rafael Minasbekyan provided insights into current pilot initiatives related to digitalization. Besides, he disclosed statistics from the previous year, informed the session about Cinema Studio KIT’s new project, the John Paul Jones series, which is being developed by showrunner Daniel Knauf, and commented on the success of the “Servant”, a movie he co-produced.
The second session entitled “Acquisition and adaptation of foreign language content” brought together Alexander Akopov, Co-founder and Producer, Cosmos Studio; Vlad Ryashin, Founder and General Producer, Star Media; Yulia Sumachova, General Producer, White Media; Vladimir Utin, CEO, Lean-M Production Center, a Russian-based Sony Pictures TV unit; Ivan Samokhvalov, Managing Partner, Environment Production Company; and Yulia Ivanova, CEO, Mars Media Entertainment. Moderator Sussana Alperina, Editor, Humanities Section Week, Rossiyskaya Gazeta, followed on issues which bear critical relevance to this industry segment, i.e. what content needs to be acquired and in what format, how content should be adapted to ensure cultural appropriateness in the Russian market, what challenges are facing the industry etc.
Panelists shared experience of implementing transcreation projects in which they participated, provided examples of projects that start gaining their own momentum abroad and elaborated on adaptation projects that will be launched in the near future.
Alexander Akopov opened the session with a presentation about the first adaptation project, a situation comedy movie “My fair nanny”. He remembered that nobody believed it could be a success, or that it could be adapted at all. However, eventually it became clear that the project was a success: the price of its episodes increased 20 times apiece.
Vlad Ryashin spoke about the “Sniffing Dog” series and described challenges facing TV series/TV show transcreation sector. Yulia Ivanova shared the secret of the “Loudspeaker” success. She believes that the most important thing is to understand whether the situation could have taken place, whether it matches our mindset. This takes us back to what Alexander Akopov rightly noted earlier in the discussion: the more quintessential our narrative is, the more successfully it can be adapted.
Subsequently, panelists analyzed factors which set the stage for the successful transcreation of foreign language content. Vladimir Utin pointed out that adaptation of formats is a fascinating journey to an unknown land, which is based on the two components: common sense and adaptors’ talent.
Yulia Sumachova answered the most frequently asked question of why the Russian market tends to borrow off-the-shelf products instead of creating anew. She believes that despite a crowded project pipeline selling the world’s most-watched top rated show is much easier that marketing your own unique idea.
Ivan Samokhvalov commented on the advantages of adaptation: “Content transcreation provides an opportunity to tap into the original concept and learn from a successful project. The higher the quality of the books you read and the movies you watch, the higher the quality of your own product. It works the same way.”
Content Summit Russia Forum concluded with a panel discussion “Copyright and counter-piracy” moderated by Pavel Katkov, Katkov & Partners, member of the Intellectual Property Council of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, member of BRICS Expert Council. Ekaterina Mironova, Deputy Director General, Gazprom Media Entertainment Television Ltd., CEO, Uma-Tech Ltd, Head of the Council for combatting illegal online content, Media Communication Union; Irina Savchenko, Deputy Head, Online Broadcasting, Channel One; and Andrei Gromkovsky, Vice-President, UFC Russia, emphasized that piracy appears to be a business in its own right and stressed the need to reduce the timeline spent on blocking pirated broadcasts. Leonid Savkov, Business Development Director, Yandex, pointed out that in order to make counter-piracy efforts successful we need to concurrently address each of the five links in the chain: copyright holders, pirate web sites, advertisers, telecom operators, and end content users.
Finally, Alexei Katkov, Managing Partner, KIP, presented KIP MONITOR technology which provides efficient and effective ways of identifying most copyright violations. Eugene Safronov, Editor-in-Chief, Intermedia, gave a brief outline of the history of global and domestic piracy covering a period from 1898 till present. He clearly demonstrated that the problem of piracy existed at all times. Summarizing the results of the panel discussion, Leonid Savkov reiterated the imperative need for all industry stakeholders to cooperate and invited telecom operators to join the forthcoming memorandum on combating piracy.
Content Summit Russia is a crucial business element of the CSTB Telecom & Media 2020 Forum/Exhibition. The latter is a key telecom and media industry event that provides an unparalleled practice-oriented forum for hearing the perspectives of both the market players and the government, increasing awareness of ways to transform businesses which unlock their development potential, and seeking advice from the key industry experts.
CSTB. Telecom & Media 2020 Exhibition/Forum was co-sponsored by the Ministry of digital development, communications and mass media of the Russian Federation, Federal Telecom Supervision Authority, Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation, and Moscow Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Key sponsor: Media Communication Union
Title Partner: Rostelecom
Strategic Partner: Tricolor
Business Program Partners: Yandex, Cinema and TV Producer Association, Russian Association of Communication Agencies, and Mediascope.