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CTAM attendees warned of danger of giving content for free

Cable operators and content providers alike recognise the growing importance of offering subscribers the opportunity to view content via devices other than the TV, but believe that distribution over the internet must be implemented in a way that makes business sense, attendees at the CTAM EuroSummit in Lisbon were told on Friday.

“Cable operators have a subscription business model [and] if you are a subscriber you should be able to view that content on other devices as well,” said Thomas Franzen, CEO of Swedish cable operator Com Hem, speaking on the CEO panel session at the conference. However, Franzen warned that content providers should not be tempted to give content away for free and said that the perception among young people that content should be available without payment remained a problem. “The big problem with the young is that they don’t have a willingness to pay,” he said. “Over time they will have to change their minds on that. How can you create good content and services without being paid? I get worried when content suppliers with working business models, through fear of being left out of new things, start to supply content to this group for free, fuelling this lack of will to pay.”

Speaking on the same panel, Linda Jensen, CEO of HBO Central Europe, said that her company wanted to deliver content over the internet in a way that was “very cable friendly” by making HBO’s premium content available only to those who had paid a subscription.  She said that programmers and operators had to come together to “talk about what should be the pricing and positioning [of content] for this young generation”.

The CEO panel followed a keynote from Marketspace founder and chairman Jeffrey Rayport in which he said that cable operators had to embrace and find a way to add value to the coming wave of ‘over-the-top’ services as ‘Generation Z’, a new cohort of individuals born into the digital age during this decade, began to consume content. He said operators and content suppliers now existed in a world where supply was infinite and demand was limited. “There is superabundance of supply and severe constraints on demand,” said Rayport.