Mann: cable can’t compete with Netflix in content

It makes little sense for cable operators to try to compete with global streaming giants, but local content strategies make sense in specific instances, according to Bruce Mann, chief programming officer, Liberty Global.

“It is very hard to compete with multinational players,” Mann told DTVE at the recent Cable Congress. “What is the job we are trying to get done? If you are looking for high-budget, US content it is very hard to compete with the big streamers like Netflix or Amazon. If you are looking for a clever way to repurpose content and have a deeper engagement with your consumers, then doing something on a local basis may make sense – but it’s unproven, in my mind.”

Mann said that Liberty Global invests in content at company wide scale “where that matters” but each country operator has its own distinct content strategy. “It is very much a local approach,” he said.

Liberty is making investments in SVOD and some exclusive dramas, with two titles to come out next year, and the company has “surgically” acquired sports rights that make a difference and has made a distinctive investment in sports where it makes sense, said Mann.

Exclusive content “can be a trap”, said Mann. He said that Liberty needs a “distinctive proposition” coupled with a leading broadband presence in each market.

“There is no market where we feel we are at a disadvantage in content,” he said.

Overall, said Mann, Liberty looks at content in “three buckets” – money paid to suppliers, content created through sports networks and so on, and other types of content. He said that augmenting broadband with a content play is important and the company looks to invest in content strategically in each market in which it is present. In some instances the company invests in free-to-air channels. Ireland and Belgium are markets where Liberty has found synergies between being an operator and FTA broadcaster and has done “clever things with rights”, he said.

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