Belgian broadcasters sign the blueprint for 'a new video ecosystem'

A balance between a better viewing comfort via ‘Replay TV’ and a new advertising model in which increased advertising reach and the digitization of TV are central.

The media sector is evolving rapidly and drastically. Within this changing environment, VIA, the federation of Belgian broadcasters, is taking the initiative to (re)define the future. In a vision statement, supported by all Belgian broadcasters, the federation points out the challenges and focuses on innovation and digitization.

The vision for the future is based on three observations:

The change in viewing behaviour in Belgium is high. The consumer is in the driver’s seat. TV programs are still watched by many, but not only on the big screen in the living room. Mobile screens and time-shifted viewing are the growth engine of TV consumption. So the viewer looks where and when he wants, on the screen he prefers.

ATAWAD (anytime, anywhere, any device) has become the default viewing mode, driven by the optimal UIs (User Interfaces) and the range of platforms: Live TV, SVOD and broadcasters AVOD. In this changing viewing behaviour, Belgium has become the world market leader in time-shifted viewing, with more than 35% of all TV content being watched in a time shifted mode.

The quality and creativity of (local) content is unique. The Belgian consumer is spoiled. The range of local and international channel content is particularly large.

TV remains one of the most impactful media. Recent ROI studies reaffirm that, and in post-COVID times TV advertising is booming (even compared to 2019). For the advertiser, TV therefore remains synonym for impactful advertising. In addition, the demand for digital reach is high, which means that the further digitization of the medium offers many opportunities.

So the challenges are clear:

  • Continue to invest in quality (local) content.
  • Update the economic model so that an entire industry can continue to focus on quality (local) content and creativity.
  • Increase ease of use and availability of content.
  • Digitize the TV medium at an accelerated pace.

A new (uniform) video ecosystem

With all broadcasters, VIA wants to focus on 4 essential elements:

1. Focus on attractive new viewing models for consumers.
The ease of use and the viewing experience of all viewers is central. 7 days of Replay TV should become the standard for all consumers on all platforms.

2. Develop future proof digital advertising models.

Increase the advertising reach of TV by

  • making advertising in replay mode unskippable
  • Introducing a non-skippable pre-roll (60 seconds) before a recorded program can be viewed

Further digitize the big screen by connecting it to the AVOD platforms

  • The goal is a 100% digital model for TV advertising. This means ad server-based and connected in a video ecosystem with all digital planning options.

3. Improve the measurement of TV and video and the use of more and qualitative data.
The measurement of linear TV will soon be enriched with set-top box data from operators. This way, the basis will get better and more granular, a essential requirement to roll out more targeting capabilities the day after tomorrow. In addition, both classic TV and online video will be measured from the same viewer to enable combined planning.

4. Build a marketplace (better advertising planning tools).
Broadcasters will collaborate to develop new unified tools that combine linear scheduling with hybrid products (such as addressable advertising). We want to prepare for the 100% digital switch of TV.

  • We want to accommodate the viewer and develop new viewing models but in parallel we want to connect the economic model to any form of video consumption.
  • We innovate in order to support the creativity and quality of the (local) content, in order to safeguard the rich offer for the consumer.
  • We will accelerate digitization with a good balance between greater ease of use, unskippable advertising in time-shifted viewing and better digital targeting options. This will form the basis of a new video ecosystem.
  • We believe that the two key stakeholders (broadcasters and operators) can realise this ambition together.

Wilfried Celis, chairman of VIA:

“The kick-off is today. Step by step, the various initiatives are being rolled out in a gradual action plan. DPG Media & SBS are the first broadcasters to start and roll out non-skippable advertising at the end of September together with Telenet. In a next phase, the other broadcasters will follow (VRT, RTL, RTBF) and we will roll out the digital models. The vision is crystal clear, the discussions between broadcasters and operators are constructive. All operators support the philosophy of this uniform model.”

All broadcasters agree and are determined to make “the change” to a future-proof digital video ecosystem that benefits consumers as well as advertisers. “

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