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Trends and Hurdles at VOD Summit

Content providers, sales and marketing leaders and cable operators were among the more than 400 industry executives attending the June 10 B&C-Multichannel News OnDemand Summit in Philadelphia. What follows are highlights of the events.

Benya Says VOD Platform Will Get Web-like

Bob Benya, senior VP of on-demand product management at Time Warner Cable, expects cable's video-on-demand platform to add more Internet-like capabilities. In his keynote address at the OnDemand Summit, Benya said those capabilities will include rapid searching through titles and use of playlists that pass between mobile devices and the set-top box, as VOD builds on its scale and progress to date.

“We started out with very humble beginnings,” he said, “but we've really come a long way.”—Kent Gibbons

Ad Money Could Head to Broadband

A panel of advertising executives and sales reps had some strong words for MSOs at the summit, saying operators needed to move quickly before advertisers left money on the table or let it all go to broadband.

Many panelists said viewers are clearly watching content on-demand but that the numbers showing exactly who is tuning into the programming are frustratingly vague.—David Tanklefsky

Plea for 'Collaboration' on Entitlement

When programmers and cable operators get together, talk inevitably turns to entitlement and authentication.

Cable operators want programmers to limit Internet access to popular shows to people who are “entitled” or paying for programming via cable subscriptions. Authentication would prove their entitlement.

Operators are worried about losing multichannel video subscribers because popular programming is available to Web surfers, and programmers are afraid of jeopardizing the subscriber fees they're paid by aggrieved cable, satellite-TV and telco-TV providers.

At a panel session, the entitlement topic led to a conversation about a related topic: how programmers can monetize the on-demand video programming they provide cable affiliates. —Kent Gibbons

Execs, Techs Take On VOD's Biggest Hurdles, Tout Innovations

The rapid increase in the mass of content being produced across multiple media platforms is forcing VOD executives and technical experts to address questions of ingest, storage, and management, with the technology often available before business models become evident.

It's a little bit “like re-doing the plumbing in your house without worrying about the water supply,” said Mitch Weinraub, executive director of products and services for Comcast Media Center. —David Tanklefsky

Cablevision's Frey Outlines VOD Advertising Success

Delivering the keynote addresses at the B&C/Multichannel News OnDemand Summit luncheon, Cablevision Advanced Platform's Senior VP Barry Frey outlined the company's success in pioneering advertising via Video On Demand. Frey also urged the cable industry to learn the separate lessons of the music business and newspaper businesses in neither overprotecting content nor giving it all away for free.—B&C Staff

Matt Bond Urges Consistency

Video-on-demand is a product that cries out for consistency, Comcast's top content acquisition executive said in closing out the summit.

“I think if you're a television network, the way to approach VOD is much the way premium networks have approached video-on-demand,” said Matt Bond, Comcast's executive VP of content acquisition. “They've created a very powerful product that has a lot of consistency. That is a very important attribute.”

He was then asked which of the VOD trends should programmers and marketers be looking at?

“One word to sum it up will be: 'more,'” Bond said. “More depth, more content, higher quality. As the advertising model opens up, it will attract more content from the advertising-supported networks.” —Kent Gibbons