Content providers and cable operators face up to rights challenges

Content providers and service providers face a range of new challenges related to the need to delivery TV Everywhere and on-demand services, with requirements that don’t always align perfectly, Cable Congress attendees heard this morning.

Speaking on a content panel at the event, Catherine Powell, senior vice-president and general manager, media distribution, The Walt Disney Company EMEA, said that digital innovation meant that distribution partners wanted comprehenesive rights for TV Everywhere and anytime services, which was “challenging” because content providers’ business models was based on a feeding a number of different windows.

Powell said it was important to understand the functionality of different devices and the audience for particular platforms. On the iPad, with kids content, the key was to deliver additonal interactivity, she said.

Bruce Tuchman, president, AMC/Sundance Channel Global, speaking on the same panel, by contrast said that content providers faced a challenge not from cord-cutting but from the need to address young consumer who rarely used the TV but accessed content across a range of devices. Making TV Everywhere apps simple and seamless was essential or content providers “would lose a generation of viewers”, he said.

Tuchman said he thought multiple screens were beginning to converge. People were now beginning to access his channel’s content over any device, he said. However, he said, the pay TV business model had served content providers extremely well and he saw no model to deliver Sundance Channel content over-the-top direct to consumers.

Service providers on the panel, on the other hand, said there was a need to deliver comprehensive offerings across a range of devices, and to package content according to the requirements of specific groups of subscribers.

There is a broad spectrum of consumer types and the challenge for service providers is to cater for people at different points in their lifecycles, said Cindy Rose, executive director, digital entertainment, Virgin Media.

Rose said that the role of the service provider was to make things simple for the consumer. “We need to create a suite of services,” she said. “Customers want a package of services that work seamlessly across the devices that they own.”

Rose said she did not believe cord-cutting was an “existential threat” to the industry and that pay TV still had a strong appeal.

Svein Erik Davidsen, vice-president and head of content acquisition, Telenor Broadcast Holding, said that service providers had to be prepared to disrupt their existing business models to experimeent and deliver new services to consumers.

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