Most cable companies now mulling standalone SVOD services, says Liberty CTO

Liberty Global CTO, Balan Nair

Liberty Global CTO, Balan Nair

The rise of over-the-top video rivals is causing “almost every cable company” to think about launching standalone subscription video-on-demand service, according to Liberty Global’s chief technology officer Balan Nair.

Speaking at Cable Congress in Brussels yesterday, Nair said that though Liberty Global offers a compelling content package over cable, it has also found success with the MyPrime SVoD offering that it offers in some markets.

“Our current package actually stands up to a lot of products out there. If the question is [how] you have to break it up somehow, well I think almost every cable company is thinking about just a standalone SVOD product. Some of us have actually launched a standalone SVOD product and it’s doing really well,” said Nair.

In September, Liberty Global-owned Swiss cable operator, UPC Cablecom, launched MyPrime in Switzerland ahead of Netflix’s launch in the country, offering several thousand films, series, children’s programmes, documentaries and programming from public broadcaster SRF.

Liberty also offers MyPrime through its UPC subsidiaries in other markets such as Ireland and the Netherlands.

Separately, in the UK pay TV rival Sky offers a similar OTT offering in the form of Now TV.

Speaking on a technology panel on the first day of Cable Congress, Nair pointed out that the likes of Netflix and Amazon Instant Video were also “great for our core product” – Liberty’s broadband business – as they drove customer consumption and take-up.

“Of course some of them compete with us on some front, but almost everybody competes with us. When you run a business that’s as successful as the cable industry, everybody wants a piece of your action; that’s a given,” said Nair.
Playing down the threat of OTT video services, Nair warned that cable operators should not “go looking everywhere for ghosts and feel that everyone’s a competitor and [go] trying to compete with everybody,” as that would cause a lack of focus.

“Netflix and these guys are doing good stuff. We can do it as well. If you’re worried that you’re going to loose the Netflix, you’ve got to think to yourself: if somebody can provide better content than you can, support your customers better than you can, provide call services better than you can and charge less than you can, then you deserve to loose,” said Nair.
“Our business is great. Who has an over the top service that has linear, subscription VoD, transactional VoD, catchup TV – the whole works? It’s us!”