OnDemand Summit: TVE, VOD Remain Challenging

As  video on demand and TV Everywhere services continue to make gains with consumers, their development -- and ongoing battle with OTT services -- is still in the first game of a doubleheader, with many technological and content advances still to come, industry executives speaking at the On Demand Summit Tuesday (June 9) said.

TV Everywhere continues to make strides, with more than 55% of consumers recognizing and using TV Everywhere services from cable networks, according to CTAM president and CEO John Lansing. While more than 90 networks are offering TV Everywhere services on a subscriber-authenticated basis, Lansing said creating a cohesive, TV Everywhere message remains a challenge.

“The biggest limitation is that TV Everywhere is not a consumer-facing brand,” Lansing said. “To communicate the value of the product without a single handle to the consumer is the biggest challenge.”

On the VOD front, In Demand president and CEO Bob Benya said consumers have access to more than 360,000 hours of movies and specialty content a year through on demand platforms. He added that In Demand's VOD movie offerings are the top choice for consumers in viewing on demand movies, with its cable affiliates generating a 37% share of paid movie orders compared with 20% for satellite services and 14% for telcos.

“With all of the diversity and depth of [on demand] content … it’s been really exciting to see how much growth there’s been on the content side,” Benya said.

Both Benya and Lansing acknowledged the consumer appeal of OTT services – particularly to young millennials – but added that as more content providers offer stand-alone, over-the-top services, the value proposition of the traditional cable bundle will grow.

“OTT services don’t have big events, live sports, ... last night’s episode [of a series],” Lansing said.  

Benya added, "While there is a lot of noise about over the top services … cable and the other MVPD’s are doing very well.”

As for the future, the executives said the industry needs a better way to measure how viewers are watching content on multiple platforms, and the on-screen interface for on-demand content needs to become easier for consumers to navigate.

Lansing added that the industry should find ways of including independently produced short-form content, which is often favored by millennial viewers.

“I think that’s a category of content that as an industry we need to understand how to get involved in that as well,” he said. “I think we’re reaching the ninth inning of this game pretty quickly, but it's understanding the second game that will be really important.”

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.