NAMIC 2009: Industry Needs To Find Consensus On Multiplatform Delivery Quickly: Panelists
Otherwise Could Face Problems Encountered By Music, Newspaper Industries
by R. Thomas Umstead - 10/28/2009 3:37:21 PM

While an industry consensus on the "TV Everywhere" model has yet to be reached, panelists speaking on the subject at the NAMIC Conference general session here Wednesday say the industry has to find a solution quickly as consumer demand to access content on multiple platforms continues to grow.

Denver Mark Garner, senior vice president of distribution, marketing and business development for A&E Television Networks, said the industry continues to face a challenge finding the right business model to offer content on multiple screens. The current strategy taken by some networks to offer content free on their Web sites jeopardizes the current affiliate fee-based distribution model with operators that he says represents 45% of A&E Networks' overall revenue.

"There's a lot of enthusiasm for maintaining the current business model," Garner said.

But the "TV Everywhere" model in which consumers have to sign-in to prove their cable subscribers presents challenges in itself with regards to the consumer's ability to access content easily and effortlessly, according to Albert Cheng, executive vice president of digital media for Disney-ABC Television group.

"The T V everywhere model makes it difficult for us to understand how easy it will be for the consumer to access [content]," Chang said "At the end it will be challenging for the consumer ... we don't have a simple solution to get the content to the screen."

If content authentication and distribution issues aren't worked out quickly, Cheng said the industry could find itself usurped by other technology companies that could secure deals to deliver content directly to consumers via the Web and other platforms.

Jamie Howard, president and CEO of Imagine Communications added companies like Netflix - which he said could be considered as "third largest MSO" due to broadband delivery of movie content via the Web to millions of subscribers - could deliver valuable content to consumers around the cable operators.

Certainly the industry has the technological capability of serving its customers on multiple platforms. The ability for example to pause a video on demand movie in the house and then pick up the movie again on a computer or mobile phone outside the home is available, according to Yvetter Kanouff, chief strategy officer for Sea Change International Inc. But implementation of such technology often gets bogged down in content rights and customer billing issues.

Derrick Frost, founder and CEO of Invision.TV, a internet video search engine, added that those issues have to be worked out quickly because the consumer's appetite for content on numerous platforms will only become more voracious and they will find other ways -legally or illegally - to access it.

"The fundamental issue is that how consumers use media has forever changed," he said, adding that if the industry isn't focused on developing a multi-platform distribution model it could face the same challenges that other media such as the music and newspaper industries have had in adopting to new media platforms.