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@DEW: Exploring New Distribution Options for Content Owners

@DEW: Exploring New Distribution Options for Content Owners

Brightcove’s media business sponsored and participated in the 2nd annual Digital Entertainment World in LA last week, appropriately subtitled “Driving the Future of Connected Entertainment.” The event drew a cross section of big media names (keynotes included execs from the C-suites of Warner and Sony), new media, “born-digital” companies and technology enablers.

As part of the agenda, Brightcove SVP/GM for Media, Anil Jain joined a panel to discuss the themes of “TV Platforms & Experiences Shift[ing] to the Cloud,” while CTO Albert Lai contributed to “Entertainment On the Go: Distribution Strategies for Video.”

Two new services that came up during Anil’s and Albert’s panels - and seemingly every other panel and keynote throughout the conference - were Snapchat’s new Discover feature and Dish’s new Sling TV offering. They exemplify the themes of disruption - evolving business models, new distributors with new rules - that Brightcove’s content owners are interested in understanding when thinking about the future.

Logically, Sling TV was a perfect headline for Albert’s panel to debate. He’ll share more thoughts on the topic in a blog post later this week, but the early read that he shared, while hopeful, was that the service...

“...must address several core usability issues (I tested on an iPhone). First, there is no pause or rewind – the video is what’s on right now. Missed the joke? Need to make a cup of coffee? Welcome, 1990s. While I may value the accessibility and mobility of viewing the content on the go, it’s a step (way) back. As a user, Sling TV wins on mobility, but Pay TV wins on usability.

Anil’s panel also debated what the future holds for content owners. They dug into the challenges of today’s “hunt and find” process that consumers go through when trying to consume a show across windows and platforms. While it’s great there are options for consumers that never existed previously, today’s world is not necessarily translating into a smooth user experience. It’s equally challenging for advertisers who have to cobble together audience across platforms to deliver messages at scale.

When moderator Brett Sappington, of Parks Associates, asked if we were collectively “stuck” with this friction for the foreseeable future, some on the panel deemed there to be too many constraints today to let content (especially ad-supported) be distributed and discovered as freely as platforms, consumers and some content owners would ideally want.

The ad rules are tough to translate across platforms... the underlying rights rules are tough to manage… content security is complicated…were among the challenges raised.

In a related discussion, Jain posited that video content is increasingly becoming known as branded shows and that consumers are not thinking about what service, distributor, network or screen is providing it to them.

However, JR Grant, VP Product & Technology at Disney, countered that he feels fortunate to work with a few of the network brands that are strong enough to have, in his example, viewers knowing that Pretty Little Liars is an ABC Family product wherever it gets watched.

Lastly, on the wrap up topic around what we’ll see more of from content owners in the future, a few of the expected buzzwords bubbled to the top; one of which was local. With the rise in video consumption on mobile devices, “local” content is becoming easier to target to consumers and more valuable. Grant embraced the idea and identified as being “very bullish on producing more and more local content” at ABC.

Beyond that, the week left some of the major questions on its principal subject debated but far from answered:

  1. Will shows continue to be strewn a la carte across services by season or will a few companies eventually consolidate or invest in multiple content windows to bring it all together?
  2. What IS the future interface for consumers to find content - I certainly didn’t hear agreement on this matter.
  3. What is the consumer expectation of future video experiences and who is best positioned to meet it?

There is certainly excitement ahead on these topics and others in 2015 as the sharpest innovators in media continue to invest in and refine their approaches.