September 13, 2013 08.49 Europe/London By Julian Clover
IBC 2013 – AMSTERDAM. In a session entitled The Next Big Battle: National Broadcasters v Global Platforms, John Honeycutt, COO, Discovery Networks International came out against defining winners and losers.
“This is about progression of a business through varying stages of evolution,” he said. “Disruption is a strong word, maybe its experimentation that is happening. The pay-TV operators aren’t standing still, they’re investing in new distribution and apps.”
To make his case Honeycutt reminded delegates that his network had 333 million paying global subscribers as opposed to 36 million for Netflix. The documentary channel, which is broadening its portfolio into entertainment following the purchase of the SBS assets in the Nordic region, said it would continue to work with the pay-TV platforms that had provide it with distribution over the last two decades.
One of those platforms is BSkyB and the satcaster’s commercial director Rob Webster who said that while a global platform may have strong content, it doesn’t have the direct relationship with the customer.
“We innovate through technology to find the best global television experience … where it leaves us is that we understand our customers better than anyone else,” said Webster. “We carefully curate the content with trusted channel brands, they come to us because they know we can add value to their content.
Webster gave the example of the recent launch of Sky Movies Disney, the first time that Disney has licensed its brand to any broadcaster.
The session had begun with a glimpse into the future with some specially prepared videos that offered a view of life in 2025. It was a world where IPTV distribution dominated and people could watch TV premiers live – Europeans having presumably adopted US Eastern Time.
But even the absent Netflix – who had launched in the Netherlands earlier in the week – don’t yet cover the globe. Gary Woolf, SVP, Digital and Business Development, All3Media reminded delegates that the OTT platform’s star turn was still available in linear schedules. “We all talk about House of Cards, but for non Netflix markets, its been licensed by Sony so the traditional models remain in the new world”.
For Matt Glotzbach, MD EMEA, YouTube the opportunity was in what he referred to as White Spaces where people are now watching video.
“Because of the advent of mobile phones we can now fill all of those white spaces with content. The fans who are watching this content are truly leaning forward and are engaged”.