Wednesday, September 19, 2007

CTAM NY Panel explores broadband vs cable for content

Today's panel, from CTAM's annual Blue Ribbon Breakfast, asked the question, can broadband video be cable's newest opportunity. Perhaps the bigger question to ask would be Friend or Foe.

An "A" list of panelists that included Herb Scannell, CEO of NextNewNetworks, Matt Strauss, SVP New Media Comcast, David, Eun, VP Content Partnerships Google, Dallas Clement, SVP Cox Comm, and Bruce Campbell, President Digital Media Discovery, and moderated by Will Richmond, Principal of Broadband Directions, spent the hour discussing the changes in viewing behavior and the opportunities and threats that broadband viewership brought.

The cable perspective viewed it as an opportunity provided the infrastructure included them. Matt spoke of the infrastructure to reach the user however they choose to watch and that Comcast is committed to adapt to meet that changing pattern. He points to the success of VOD and the eyeballs they are reaching as one example. And Dallas's comment regarding Hi Def programming makes the cable platform more effective for watching this type of content. Google talks publicly of its partnership philosophy, but left unsaid is how they can enter the advertising side of the cable business and be the transaction arm on the cable platform. Programmers seek eyeballs, either through the synergy from existing linear brands or by distribution efforts. As Herb Scannell suggested, we can't expect the viewer to come to us; we need to put our content out to the viewer wherever they may be. Herb also noted that the mantra is no longer "content is king", but rather "the consumer is king". The conversation even ventured into the changing pattern of subscription content, as noted by the change at Times Select.

This was a terrific panel. I must note that I am currently VP on the CTAM NY Board, but was not responsible this year for this particular event's planning. The committee outdid themselves to create a panel that will be talked about for quite a while. How consumer viewing patterns change and how the industry adapts its infrastructure to remain valuable seems the key determinant. The interactive elements of video, data, and mobile into a cohesive service may be the key win for all parties.