Chellomedia’s Curran: broadcasters must adapt in face of market fragmentation

In an era of media and device fragmentation, pay TV broadcasters must future proof their businesses by focusing on the needs of customers, viewers and investors.

That was the message from Niall Curran, president of Liberty Global’s content arm Chellomedia, who was speaking at the Digital TV World Summit this morning about how broadcasters must adapt to stay relevant.

The company operates 66 channels for pay TV operators across Europe, with around 15% of revenues coming from its parent company. Curran said Chellomedia’s relationship with Liberty Global helped it keep up with the requirements of operators, which include making content available on multiple devices.

He said Chellomedia was focused on working with its pay TV operator customers rather than being tempted to compete with them. “The disruptive possibilities [of the pay TV industry] give content providers an option to go around and compete with their customers. We want to use innovation to complement what we are doing, not to compete,” Curran said. “We work with our big pay TV customers to try an complement their efforts to broaden their services. We make sure we have something to put into their custom built apps, for example. We want to help our customers maintain relevance and their relationships with viewers.”

He added that being part of Liberty Global meant Chellomedia was aware of the CAPEX pressures being felt by pay TV operators, meaning it was prepared to be flexible in terms of the tiering and packaging of channels.

In terms of viewers, Curran said they wanted content on devices with which they have “intense relationships”, including tablets and smartphones. “We’ve got to be on those devices as part of the pay TV OTT service. It involves stretching our capabilities to produce new forms of content and to reimaging what our brands mean,” he said. “Now we have multiple technolgoies and multiple production outputs for all of our programming, it’s more complex but we have broadened and deepened our relationship with customers within the pay TV model.”

Chellomedia has been active in terms of mergers and acquisitions, most recently acquiring the Hollywood studio MGM’s international channels, and Curran said this kind of business required long term views of the market. “It’s about recognising the real growth potential of the business you are in. As an investor, the management team or entrepreneur behind a business that I’m interested in must recognise what the risks are in relationship to the growth potential. I’m looking to companies that can scale or are open to partnerships,” he said.