Review: Panel/ Women in SVoD: Equity on Demand

Part of: Pilot Light TV Festival (Manchester)

Season 3Equity on Demand was a fascinating and relevant talk about the future of online streaming and diversity in the television industry. Headed by Kirsten Stoddart with Delia-Rene Donaldson (Writer, Venus vs Mars, Sky Living) and Jo McGrath (Co-founder, Walter Presents) – it brought together industry specialists to discuss where women currently stand in television and in SVoD, and to understand what the future looks like.

Television writing has a disappointingly low average for women writers at fewer than 30% working on Fiction series television. It’s even worse when you consider directors – with only around 11%. In some ways, traditional television feels tired, like a closed door afraid of taking risks and programming new, diverse voices.

Equity on Demand was an opportunity to discuss how subscription services and web series have a chance to introduce the diversity we’re desperate for as viewers and to give people a chance to tell their stories. As a whole, the services are less cliquey and able to access audiences who might not watch traditional television.

The panel discussed whether or not there was a need for a big initiative and push in the UK to make change and ensure writing rooms were more inclusive – whether through new regulation or commitment to interview. They felt it would be disappointing for it to come down to regulation – when it’s as simple as the fact that writer’s rooms should really be an equally weighted split of people who are able to accurately write characters that reflect their own experiences.

Following this, the panel discussed how women are more likely to hire women – offering the industry more role models and mentors.

The session was exciting and intriguing – it felt like an open door to a more exciting world of entertainment. In the last few years, binge watching has changed how we watch drama: it’s an immersive ritual that allows ourselves to become part of another world. It will be interesting to see what surprises this brings as it develops: genres flipped on their heads, new formats, more diversity. I certainly look forward to seeing how the LGBTQ community is integrated into this experience and the changes that are made moving forward.

© M. Holland 2018

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