Arun Maljaars, VP of content and channels at Insight TV, talks to TV Real about reaching its millennial target audience with adventurous lifestyle content that’s aspirational, relatable and inspirational.
Factual content was ripe and ready to have a resurgence in the international market—with or without the conditions created by COVID-19, according to Maljaars. Yes, the pandemic and the lockdowns it forced led to a correlated uptick in viewing hours. And yes, factual productions that don’t require on-location shooting and massive crews and casts have been at an advantage when it comes to meeting broadcasters’ demand for content to fill up vacant spots on their schedules. But the popularity of factual programming was on the rise even before these factors came into play, says Maljaars.
“The trend toward more factual, unscripted programming was already leaning that way before COVID hit,” Maljaars notes. “It’s always a simple curve. As with all trends, at some point, you hit a peak in popularity—like we’re seeing in scripted content—and an inevitable decline, followed by a surge in other programming trends, say, for instance, in game shows, reality or maybe even a micro-genre.”
Amsterdam-based Insight TV, a producer, broadcaster, distributor and format seller, focuses on appealing to the millennial demographic with adventurous lifestyle content filmed in 4K UHD HDR that can be accessed via insight.tv or on its linear channels that are available in 50 different countries. Insight TV’s millennial target audience “tends to gravitate toward stories about extraordinary people, and as told by those people themselves—stories that cross boundaries of geography, race and culture and are informational, entertaining and inspiring,” says Maljaars, who believes that these are also the sorts of stories, which source their ingredients from social media, that have the global legs that can travel.
Millennials and Gen Z “consume content from people they find interesting, whether that person comes from Bolivia, India, Germany or South Carolina,” Maljaars explains. “It’s about, Do I like the video and the story it tells? It transcends beyond borders and across topics—or topics that are deemed ‘niche’ but actually are massive in the target audience.” These internationally appealing titles are also aspirational and relatable and have the ability to inspire. “No matter what language you speak or what country you call home, these are elements that draw us all into great human stories—superhuman accomplishments, triumphing over adversity, the power of music to bring people together, awe-inspiring locations to explore, cutting-edge cultural trends—these are all part of the storytelling in our original content that resonates with our viewers around the world.”
Sports has proven to be one of the most popular genres that Insight TV covers, as the company has produced titles on auto racing, martial arts, women’s soccer and esports. Live events, music performances and adventure-travel lifestyle shows have also found success. Though the content is not always what broadcasters have an eye open for, Maljaars believes in their promise. “Traditional broadcasters are still interested in the more ‘traditional’ content, whether that’s because this works for their older-skewing audiences or simply because they just go with what has always worked for them in the past,” he says. “I always look at that demand with some skepticism with regard to the motives of acquiring some more traditional content.”
With the proliferation of streaming platforms, opportunities abound for Insight TV’s perhaps less traditional content. “Factual entertainment remains a popular entertainment category and a must-have for streamers and broadcasters alike,” says Maljaars. “Factual has always been an important programming category for generalist platforms, but there are also now many other platforms that are dedicated to factual content.”
Among the made-for-millennials titles Insight TV has to offer audiences is Modern Day Gladiators, an esports-centered docuseries that follows rockstar gamers as they battle it out with both a cash prize and their pride on the line. In Epic Exploring: Going Local, urban explorer YouTube stars Josh and Cody venture out to abandoned sites, buildings and locations to uncover the buried histories and mysteries within. I Am Invincible introduces viewers to the veterans participating in the Invictus Games, the Olympic-style event for disabled war veterans that was founded by Prince Harry. It offers a look into what these veterans have overcome and how sports, including the Invictus Games, have helped them in their recovery.
Like many in the content industry, Insight TV has had to make adjustments to accommodate lockdowns and other safety measures that have come into play amid the coronavirus pandemic. “We used some ingenuity to produce shows that utilized remotely controlled cameras and crews that were socially distanced,” says Maljaars, referring to the Global Citizen concerts, the digital edition of Tomorrowland and the Martin Garrix: Live on Dutch Waters special featuring DJ Martin Garrix performing from his yacht. “We shot it using cameras mounted on the boat, on drones and on helicopters,” he explains. “Music event programming has proved to be a format that has worked well for us during the pandemic.”
Insight TV also recently wrapped filming on the competition series Ultimate Goal, which features aspiring female soccer players. COVID-19 safety measures for the show included keeping the contestants under quarantine before filming on the closed set. And in regions around the world that are proving safe for cast and crew, filming is underway on more of the company’s unique lifestyle programs.
“All of our shows feature the incredible stories of real people discovering the limits of their own abilities and sharing extraordinary experiences with the audience that allow them to come along for the ride!” says Maljaars.