With something as ubiquitous as a smartphone, everyone can play at being anything from a photographer to a filmmaker. However, the emergence of content production as a common activity among the masses doesn’t make it any less of a business. The seemingly insatiable national appetite for visual media and the technology that creates it have combined to impact practically every known industry. And it’s this widespread demand for content that has made its way into the modern office. Increasingly, office tenants are seeking access to production space inside their office buildings.
It’s not just the media or tech industries that are integrating state-of-the-art production studios into their workspaces. A number of non-tech Fortune 500 companies are producing their content via in-house facilities. At its 700,000-square-foot headquarters in Newark, New Jersey, Prudential brought together a collection of designers, architects, and engineers to construct a broadcast facility. Prudential consolidated business activities from five locations, including its main trading operations, into a 96,000-square-foot space that allowed room for the development of a broadcast facility on the same floor. The co-location of the trading operations and the flexible broadcast facility allows for a bevy of activities, including standing presentations and live reporting.
The trend in on-site broadcasting facilities extends beyond the heavy hitters of the business world. Captive Resources, a small insurance and financial services consultancy in Chicago, is putting in its own studio because it wants to utilize content to drive leads and help distinguish the firm from its peers. Companies with even the smallest of footprints often have a need for a dedicated space to produce professional content. “They’ve got a large array of communications that are helping them both be a differentiator in the marketplace and as a way to attract customers and clients,” said Peter Provost, President & Director of Design at Provost Studio. Provost Studio designed the Prudential and Captive Resources facilities and has provided the vision for a number of other companies across the country including Oracle, media outlets, professional sports teams, and universities. Provost is seeing businesses of all varieties and sizes seek onsite broadcast facilities including a leading healthcare provider and a big-box retailer.
The options for office-based broadcast studios are as diverse as the companies that use them. Space doesn’t have to be an issue. While companies like Yahoo Finance might have dedicated space for broadcast studios from the start of occupancy, smaller office users have to work within their existing square footage. In these situations, an existing conference room, large office or underutilized breakout room can be retrofitted to be utilized as a studio without expanding the footprint. Provost explained that it is feasible to discreetly incorporate the requisite infrastructure—including lighting, power, and data—into an existing space, making it camera-ready.
The idea of having a broadcast studio in every office might sound far-fetched, but consider the rise of the Zoom Room in workplaces after the pandemic. A Zoom Room is a software-driven setup that offers a seamless experience for audio and video conferencing, as well as wireless screen sharing. Unlike a typical video conference where you have to log into Zoom, join your meeting, and check audio and video quality, a Zoom Room has most of these settings optimized in advance. This includes adjustments for lighting, background, and camera angles.
“If it wasn’t important, you wouldn’t have a company like WeWork that is now putting in [video-ready] podcast spaces for their tenants just out of the box. They’re not waiting,” Provost said. “Competitors of WeWork are also looking at this as a valid market trend that’s happening.” After all, there is an entire world of influencers out there who rely heavily on video production. According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, podcasting revenue in the United States will more than double to $4 billion by 2025.
Local government has even put the stamp of approval on the emerging importance of accessible broadcast studios. In Northern Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C., the Arlington County Board proposed an amendment to the county zoning ordinance for office uses that would allow broadcasting to be included in the definition of audio-visual production studio and allow its use without a special permit in the area’s commercial, mixed-use, and industrial districts.
As more office tenants expand the use of video content to enhance their brand, the demand for easy access to broadcast studio space will continue on the upswing. This fact will be something that developers will need to consider when outlining amenities to be offered at an office project. A production facility that is rentable for tenant use via a third-party operator could become part of the ground-level retail segment of an office building or even a separate structure at a mixed-use campus. And owners of existing properties may begin to consider repurposing a segment of underutilized—or perhaps, long-vacant—office square footage to erect a studio that is available for booking by all tenants. At properties that don’t offer these facilities as an amenity, brokers can look forward to negotiating production space as part of a tenant’s fit-out allowance in lease agreements.
Technology has made broadcasting easy, efficient, and physically compact and as the world’s appetite for content continues to grow, businesses in every industry and of every size will see a growing need for access to production space. The timing may be just right for putting the spotlight on broadcasting studios, as the office sector continues to struggle with high vacancies and in some cases, empty buildings. Public broadcast studios could help take up some of the vacant office space that is destined to remain on the market for the foreseeable future. These facilities could very well become the new rooftop café of the office sector.