RE> CANNEXT by Flanders Image | Projections
Streamz develops its SVoD activity with original Flemish content
With Flanders Image’s Re> Connext online conference taking place this and next week, Peter Vindevogel, CEO of the year-old Flemish SVoD Streamz platform, reveals how a mix of local content in Dutch and of programming acquired from American studios is the recipe for success.
There have never been so many competitors dabbling in the streaming war, and this is an issue preoccupying visitors to Flanders Image’s Re> Connext online conference this week.
On the one hand, big newcomers like Disney +, which last counted 116 million subscribers, threaten the stranglehold of the “old guard” of Netflix and Amazon, while on the other, we are witnessing the the rise of the local offer and niche VoD platforms as well.
These include Streamz, a Flemish SVoD service launched last year by cable operator Telenet, owned by Liberty Global, and commercial group DPG Media. Led by CEO Peter Vindevogel, the platform targets the Dutch-speaking community in Belgium.
A gap in the Flemish local content market – poorly served by international players – motivated the decision to deploy Streamz, explains Vindevogel. âStreaming is still on the rise and although we noticed that new viewers tended to sign up for global VoD platforms, we knew the Flemish were also fond of local content. We decided to exploit this contradiction with Streamz, offering the public a brilliant new platform filled with local programming, âhe adds.
Not wanting to over-saturate the local market, Streamz is the product of two local broadcasters. âWe wanted to go against the grain of each broadcaster launching their own streaming service and join forces instead. We saw no point in trying to compete with each other in the local ecosystem, especially since research shows that households have two SVoD subscriptions, one being a local streaming service and the other being a platform. -international form â, explains Vindevogel.
To differentiate itself from the main players, Streamz focuses on local content in the Dutch language, including original content and programs acquired from the three local broadcasters in Flanders: DPG, pubcaster VRT and the commercial group SBS Belgium. With some local broadcasts, Streamz has first window rights and they appear on the service six months to a year before their linear broadcast in Flanders.
âLocal content is extremely important to us and in the year since our launch we have ordered 22 local titles. We also have a large library of content from Flemish broadcasters, which puts us in a unique position compared to other streamers in the region. We are now looking to evolve towards a wider offer of original content, âsays Vindevogel.
But while local and original content takes priority, Streamz cares less about focusing on specific genres. Instead, the streamer has a large roster that draws its target audience of adults between the ages of 25 and 35. âThis means that the content we are looking for is not the same as a linear channel,â explains Vindevogel. âTypically, we put on shows that are bold, dark, raw and unconventional. “
Its original dramatic programming includes Storm Lara, produced by A Private View, which stars Ella Leyes as a radio host who receives a mysterious phone call that turns her life upside down, and F *** You Very Very Much, produced by Caviar. The latter revolves around the wild and derailed life of three thirty-something friends, played by Frances Lefebure, Evelien Bosmans and Daphne Wellens.
Another Streamz Original is Fair Trade, produced by independent productions from Belgian producer Marc Punt. The crime drama follows two narcotics cops who are disillusioned with years in the force and find themselves increasingly involved in criminal transactions.
In the field of comedy, there is the series produced by Lecter Media My Worst Best Friend. Directed by Maarten Moerkerke and based on the book of the same name by Ilse Beyers, it follows a group of six friends who work together at an advertising agency. However, their friendship is threatened when one of the group members suspects that she might share her husband with one of her best friends. Maaike Cafmeyer, Ella-June Henrard and Clara Cleymans are among the main actors.
Other original dramas are local adaptations of international formats, such as the Australian comedy No Activity. Originally designed for Australian streamer Stan by Sydney-based Jungle Entertainment, No Activity has been remade across the world, including by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay for the United States, as well as Germany and the Middle East.
But for Streamz, the show, which focuses on two police officers during surveillance, has not had the success it hoped for, according to Vindevogel. âThe remake worked really well in other countries, but for us it wasn’t a big success. Oddly enough, I don’t really have an answer for the reason, because we had two good actors. But it didn’t work out as well as we thought it would. Maybe it was a little too conventional, too predictable and not original enough, âhe says.
What worked well for Streamz was an adaptation of the Norwegian teen drama Skam, first produced by local pub broadcaster NRK. Entitled WTFock in Belgium, the series explores the life of a group of 16-year-olds, tackling topics such as eating disorders, gender identity and religion. âWhat made it successful was that we studied the Norwegian script and the show, which was extremely popular and acclaimed, and stayed true to it. We just gave it a local flavor so that it would appeal to young people in Belgium, âexplains Vindevogel.
Likewise, the science-fiction series Deja Vu, a remake of Radio-Canada’s Quebec series Plan B, was a success for Streamz. Produced by Fobic Films, the series follows a mother who has the opportunity to travel through time to correct mistakes made by her teenage daughter.
In original unscripted programming, Streamz searches for docufiction series and local stories that “make a difference,” according to Vindevogel. Among them are the OnlyFans docuseries: The Naked Flemish Truth, which follows Flemish designers such as Jamecia Baker (Ex On The Beach), Megan Desaever (Temptation Island) and Yana Daems (Temptation Island) as they cruise the flat. -controversial shape. OnlyFans: The Naked Flemish Truth is produced by Het Konijn.
Another example of an original factual series with locals at the heart of its storytelling is the Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike musical documentary series. It sees journalist and filmmaker Eric Goens, who produced the series, following the DJ duo, from Willebroek, through the year at glamorous events around the world, including the electronic music festival Amsterdam Dance Event. .
The content acquired from Streamz, however, is much less localized and instead focuses on critically acclaimed hit series, from HBO Sex & the City to crime drama starring Kate Winslet, Mare of Easttown, produced by Wiip for HBO. and Sky. âWe have strong, pre-existing relationships with all of the international studios such as HBO, Universal, Paramount and CBS, and they are all present on Streamz,â Vindevogel said.
Other international series acquired for the platform include the reboot of the American drama Gossip Girl, based on the successful novels by Cecily von Ziegesar and the original show on The CW, developed by Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, and the comedy black HBO Max The Flight Attendant, with The Big Bang Theory actor Kaley Cuoco.
They join Sister Pictures and Chernobyl produced by The Mighty Mint, an HBO and Sky drama that features the true story of one of the worst man-made disasters in history, when a catastrophic accident at the Ukrainian nuclear power plant killed 31 people and subsequently led to a huge exclusion zone around the site which remains in place to this day. Written by Craig Mazin and directed by Johan Renck, Chernobyl stars Jessie Buckley, Stellan SkarsgÃ¥rd, Emily Watson and Paul Ritter.
Most recently, Streamz took over the medical drama Nurses, produced for Canadian broadcaster Global TV, and The Unusual Suspects, a female-led comedy heist series produced by Australian company Aquarius Films for local ad broadcaster SBS. But it’s not just modern series that feature on the Flemish platform – classic titles such as Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Sopranos are also available on Streamz.
Along with the acquired and original content, Vindevogel claims that Streamz is actively seeking international co-productions. “Our main relations are with neighboring countries such as the Netherlands and its broadcaster NPO, and France with Canal +,” he explains. âIt is better to co-produce with local actors and broadcasters than with an international streamer, because that allows you to keep the rights.
Although the majority of Streamz’s content is produced in Dutch, this does not mean that non-Dutch language programming is prohibited. Sports drama The Window is an international co-production between Streamz, Velvet, Fuji Television, Boogie Entertainment and ZDF Enterprises, supported by the Screen Flanders business fund, and is an English-language series. Starring Sex Education star Samuel Jordan, it explores behind the scenes of the world of professional football.
Unlike many OTT players, Vindevogel says there is no rush to roll out Streamz to other territories in the years to come. The first stop would be French-speaking Belgium, but only after Streamz has strengthened its French-speaking offer, he adds.
Vindevogel also doesn’t care too much about present or future competition. âThe advantage of being in a growing market is that it forces production companies to reinvent themselves. This is because viewers now have different expectations, both about the appearance and type of content, as well as its pace and pace. There is also no foreground territory – it all depends on the individual show. “