BCWW 2020's Digital Market Roundup

It’s not news that Covid-19 brought a screeching halt to international travel, leaving no business sector unharmed. Content trade shows and conferences have been paramount to the seamless entertainment content flow across borders. The meeting of content buyers and sellers meeting at such markets broadly explain why consumers get to enjoy shows and films on Netflix and any preferred OTT (over-the-top) platforms in their native language, no matter their location, but not only. Here’s a closer look at the annual Broadcast Worldwide (BCWW) in Seoul and their move to online. 

Every year, there are various content trade shows, conferences and festivals organized all over the world, with distinct focuses and themes. Notable ones include: MIPCOM, MIPTV, C21 Media’s Content London and Content LA, LA Screenings, Cannes International Film Festival, Cannes Series, NATPE, HK Filmart, Asia TV Forum (ATF), Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), BCWW and the list goes on. These week-long events celebrate new content or product launches in the presence of industry insiders, journalists and fans alike. Beyond the parties, content buyers and sellers use such festive occasions to network and pitch their business. Contracts are rarely negotiated in detail, but it sets the stage for the real deal once the party’s over. 

This year, many offline events were cancelled or forced to quickly adapt an online strategy. Broadcast Worldwide (BCWW) was one of them. They are South Korea’s biggest broadcast format market, hosted by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, and organized by the Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA), with 2020 marking its 20th anniversary. It was a fully online program, held between September 7th through 11th. Having participated as a buyer on behalf of a client, here’s an account of the first online content trade show organized by a veteran in the market. 

Upon log-in, participants will be notified of live conferences or screening sessions, ensuring there’s no missing out. Clicking out of the box, you’ll be greeted with an interactive map, simulating the actual trade show. There are 5 main areas to explore. 1. Exhibition consists of a directory of sellers participating at the event, 2. Business Lounge, where scheduled business meetings on the platform take place through Cisco Webex Meetings, 3. Conferences is a section of pre-recorded videos of industry professionals are shown discussing the latest trends and hot issues, 4. On Air, similar to number 3 but recorded live. 5. Pitching & Showcases, where the latest series and formats are exhibited exclusive through the Cisco Webex app. 

Admittedly, I’d spent majority of my time on the conferences and panel discussions, which I will review in the coming weeks. The list of topics includes:

  • Formats & OTT trends and challenges in 2020

  • Marketing in the New Media Era

  • K-pop and how they utilize new technologies

  • Writers' dilemma in Korea

  • The establishment of FRAPA

The dynamic knowledge sharing demonstrated the invigoration still present in the industry despite the Covid-19 challenges. BCWW had also made these scheduled sessions available on YouTube for the day, but video on demand is only for participants on the platform. Most sessions were pre-recorded with a handful of sessions recorded live without English subtitles but later updated by the BCWW organizing team. Q&As was a slight challenge, given panel speakers and moderators were unfamiliar with this online format and perhaps technical issues such as lagging made it less seamless. 

Generally, unless you’re clear of what you’re looking for, navigating through the exhibitor list could be a tad more challenging, without visuals capturing your attention at a physical booth in contrast. The Cisco Webex app was functional, but was a little unstable at moments of the call. Pitching and Showcases was another aspect of the trade show I’d enjoyed with discovery of new titles and formats. Overall, the insights shared by industry and business thought leaders was most interesting, clearly emphasizing the progressive changes in content. However, with the online shift of this year’s BCWW, much of the experience has transformed towards passive listening over proactive interactions. Nevertheless, BCWW 2020 was a brilliant attempt pivoting online, and until the Covid-19 situation stabilizes, we anticipate more content trade shows, conferences and festivals to follow suit.