Back at Work? Global TV Industry Survey Reveals Office Anxiety, Virtual Fatigue and Hopes For Mipcom (EXCLUSIVE)

Fewer than one in 10 executives working across the international TV industry wants to go back to full-time office work following the pandemic, and 60% think in-person industry events should require COVID-19 testing, a new survey has found.

The inaugural Content Industry Monitor from podcast TellyCast and fledgling agency WorkShare Consulting surveyed around 500 people from the industry, with its results serving as a timely litmus test for how individuals feel about returning to work and live events. Those surveyed — around half of whom are based in the U.K. — worked in production and production-adjacent companies, as well as distributors, streamers, broadcasters, format developers and research/trade press.

The survey found that just 9% of executives want to go back to offices on a full-time basis. Instead, the vast majority of industry office workers want a balance in working environments, with 26% of respondents preferring either 3 days per week or 2 days a week (21%) back in their regular pre-pandemic office space.

Around 60% of TV executives reported working longer hours during the pandemic, and 55% said they had increased stress levels. Videoconferencing could have been a contributing factor, as just under half (43%) found video calls went on for too long.

Indeed, 64% found virtual events a worse experience than live events, but 53% expect them to remain a significant part of the industry and how it does business going forward. The ideal duration for a virtual event is 2 hours (36%), compared to half a day (27%) or a full day (14%).

The must-attend event for those surveyed is October’s Mipcom market, which 51% said they plan on attending, followed by MipTV 2022 (47%). Around 30% plan to attend the Edinburgh TV Festival this summer; 26% hope to attend Realscreen in the U.S.; 23% are looking to travel to IBC; and 19% want to attend NATPE and NEM.

However, safety is a major concern for prospective delegates, as 60% think that live events should require COVID-19 testing as an entry requirement. Interestingly, nearly half (47%) said only vaccinated attendees should be permitted to these events.

Toll on business

On the business side, 47% said the pandemic has had some negative impact but no redundancies were required, while 36% admitted to a negative impact with cost-cutting and/or redundancies needed. Just 4% indicated an “extremely negative” impact in which the company was at risk of collapse without outside intervention.

Cost-cutting was focused on salaries (49%), marketing spend (47%), growth investment (45%), office space (36%) and client spending (34%). The least amount of cuts were in equipment (11%); other, which covers festivals, travel and hospitality, production costs and redundancies (11%); diversity schemes (6%); and IT (4%).

Close to a fifth of respondents (19%) are generating revenues exceeding those pre-pandemic, and 34% expect to see a return to pre-COVID levels in 12-18 months. Additionally, 77% are either extremely confident or confident about retaining employment in the next 6 months, with little sign of the recession hitting jobs confidence in the TV industry this summer.

Regarding employer safety measures, the vast majority said their employers had made health and safety a priority in the last year (60%), with only 4% saying their bosses don’t take COVID-19 seriously.

The survey also asked respondents about their perceptions of diversity and inclusion in the industry, with 83% of respondents reporting a lack of Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic (BAME) representation, while 66% said there isn’t a level playing field for BAME individuals to progress to leadership roles.

In contrast, 60% said there was a level playing field for women to progress to leadership roles.

Commenting on the survey, Jonathan Broughton, managing director of Workshare Consulting, said: ”The Content Industry Monitor represents an amazing opportunity to understand the readiness of the industry to return and to tackle critical questions in the market. Whether that be a return to physical events or working in an office, this partnership with TellyCast has been an amazingly revealing and rewarding experience.”

TellyCast founder Justin Crosby added: “I wanted to mark a year of TellyCast podcasts and by teaming up with WorkShare we’re doing exactly that with our Content Industry Monitor. It’s packed with revealing insights into a year in TV, the likes of which we’ve never seen before. I hope industry executives will find the survey as fascinating as we do”.