Over-the-top TV provides an opportunity for cable, Andrei Torriani, CEO of Maltese cable operator Melita, told attendees at the CTAM Europe EuroSummit this morning.
Given the opportunity to deliver services across the EU, smaller service providers had a chance to prosper, he said. “There’s a lot going to happen over the next year or so,” he said, referring to the possible opening up of the market if the EU confirms a ruling that content rights cannot be restricted on a geographical basis as a result of case undertaken by a pub landlady in the UK to defend her right to show coverage of English Premier League football broadcast from Greece in the UK.
Embracing openness offers a better way forward than trying to restrict access to content, said Torriani, who was taking part in the CEO Forum at the EuroSummit.
Torriani said that Malta had the highest penetration of pay TV in Europe – about 97%. It also had 96% penetration of broadband and high penetration of fixed telephony. He said that the company had responded to competition by launching VOD recently with the On Demand Group. However, he warned, consumers would not be limited in consuming content where they wanted at the least possible cost, and trying to control content distribution was a mistake. “We need to take a step back and think about this. Do you think the cable industry is going to be able to control what consumers watch?” he said. “From a smaller operator’s perspective, the more open the better. It’s interesting from an operator’s perspective…to be the source of the opportunity to access all the content that’s out there.”
Speaking on the same panel in Malta, David Lynn, managing director, UK and executive vice-president, international content distribution, Viacom, said the emergence of over-the-top video and the need to balance relationships with existing distributors with new opportunities were his company’s major preoccupations. Viacom has recently launched its first direct-to-consumer offering, but it was important not to disrupt relationships with existing service providers, he said.
On the same panel, Paul Robinson, global CEO, KidsCo, said that being asked for rights for multiple platforms – OTT services and multiple devices – had become the norm over the last year. He said KidsCo had also been working hard on its personalisation service, MyKidsCo. “We think that will be quite a powerful tool in the cable industry. It’s great for cable because it requires a return channel,” he said.
Robinson said that KidsCo wanted to maintain its relationship with cable operators, however. He said Google’s idea of giving a revenue share did not offer a clear business plan for content providers. “We’re certainly not going to give our content away,” he said. Robinson also criticised public broadcasters for indiscriminately giving content to YouTube and other online services, which gave consumers the impression that content should be free.
Mike Moriarty, managing director, Chellomedia Central Europe, said that his company was increasingly focused on growing advertising revenues. However, he said, this was a very difficult challenge given the declining size of the overall pie in the markets in which it is active. Another key focus was the competitive challenge offered by digital terrestrial TV in central Europe. “All our markets are a little bit different,” he said. “Poland has been resistant [to the downturn] but Romania has contracted wildly.”