DEW: Premium Content More Important Than Ever

Los Angeles, Calif. -- In the age of ever-increasing competition for consumers' attention, premium content — and a premium viewing experience — are more important than ever, according to a panel at the Digital Entertainment World (DEW) conference in Los Angeles Wednesday.

Panelist Ralf Jacob, chief revenue officer, Verizon Digital Media Services, offered up a stunning statistic: A two-second delay of a video's start time online reduces viewership by up to 45%. "If you see a spinning wheel, you lost half of your audience," he said. They get annoyed and move on, said Jacob, so a quality, premium experience as well as quality, premium content is crucial to thriving in video today and beyond. He also detailed how Verizon is addressing ad-blocking, providing a seamless viewing experience between content and ads so blockers can't tell where to jump in to interrupt the message.

Indeed, one thing all of the panelists, representing a variety of aspects of the video business, shared is a vision for the future of video that hinges on quality—be it content or experience.

As an executive leading a next generation studio, Jesse Sisgold, chief operating officer, Skydance Productions, has his eye on the evolution of windowing and dynamic pricing of premium theatrical content across theatrical, home video or SVOD and international releases. "I think there's going to be a lot of changes in that area," he said.

"Premium content matters more than ever today," said panelist Ross Levinsohn, board of directors, Tribune Company, Millennial Media, ZEFR, DramaFever.

When asked by moderator Phil Schuman, senior managing director, FTI Consulting, about his thoughts on the future of programmatic advertising, Levinsohn said he thinks it will settle in the 50% range on the Internet (coupled with mobile), but on television he said he doesn't think it will be "the preeminent force in the next couple years." However, it will be part of the mix. 

Television still has the tradition of massive viewership at one place at one time, Levinsohn noted. "The stalwart is great creative," he said, adding a caveat. It's got to be in a more immersive way, has to get more creative to continue to command greater CPMs. But in reality, "It's still a pretty big industry."

Panelist Adrian Sexton, interim president and chief operating officer, Endemol Beyond USA, who said he prefers the term "multiplatform network" to MCN to describe his business, said the key today is creating content that travels and "stands the test of time." In talking with talent and brands alike, the important thing he emphasizes is the sense of what is created is a "body of work" and that "it counts."