TV - Evolution or Revolution? A Look at B&C's MultiPlatform Conference

There is more chatter than usual about the future of the traditional TV model with hand wringing across all media disciplines from measurement, to technology, to consumer affinities, to platform usage and business silos. Can MVPDs keep up with the pace of change? Can content providers maximize the value of their offerings across platforms? What is the future of TVE, OTT, TV programmatic on the core business? 

There are no pan-industry experts (that I know of) but there are astute minds in specific areas. So when one attends a conference that places experts across the spectrum in one venue, it is a cornucopia of ideas and revelations. Such was the recent B&C MultiChannel Content Show which included panels on MultiPlatform and Addressable Advertising.

There were so many great panels and speakers that the following takeaways are from the MulitPlaform conference. Addressable Advertising takeaways will follow in a future column:

Authentication is Still Not Where It Should Be
OTT, it was generally agreed, was a good thing for consumers, MVPDs and content providers. But authentication remains a roadblock for many consumers. Marty Roberts from The Platform admitted that "as a technologist, there is still more to do (with authentication).  Authentication is now at about 55%. That is not good enough. Consumers want to login and just watch their show. The problem is that consumers don't know their credentials. "

Measurement is Improving But is Not There Yet. And Stubborn Silos Remain
Cross platform measurement has seen some recent improvements but there is still much to be done including breaking down the measurement silos by combining measurement platforms, evolving the business model away from proxy measures and forming common metrics across platforms.
TWC's Joan Gillman explained that "We have trained the consumers to consume media whenever and wherever they want but what hasn't caught up is the measurement. Long tails don't get credit." That is because TV buying continues to be bought by age gender proxy. However Big Data is slowly moving the measurement needle. AT&T 's Kristyn Clement noted that "We are moving away from the Nielsen panel. We might use Rentrak or Nielsen or both and we will continue to see that evolve. The days of a single currency has past us."

Jane Clarke of CIMM believes that “We will probably end up with two (measurement) layers; A planning layer with a holistic measurement and a system that gets to unduplicated content and ad measurement in single system. But actual trading currency probably needs a trading platform. Advertisers want purchaser targets. They no longer want w25-54. So we will also need a transactional layer to get the right ad to right person at right time.”

Some believe that measurement challenges will be solved over time as older viewers give way to younger who have very different consumption preferences. Ian Greenblatt of ARRIS noted that “The under-measurement of OTT is generational. Younger viewers will actively search out quality content in whichever silo it is living.”

Content Truisms Remain Truisms ... Until They Don’t
How many times have we heard that content is king? That is still true; Without good, compelling, engaging content, our quest for better measurement and monetization is quixotic. The interesting nuance to this is how different forms of content succeed in different ways depending on the technology. Fewer television series are viewed live with viewers preferring to watch on their own schedules, on a variety of devices and via other content aggregators. News and Sports, however, continue to be viewed live, albeit on a wider range of platforms. Obviously, consumers will decide the TV model. Penthera’s Michael Willner says, “I admit I am getting more into watching programs on my iPad. Though it will be the consumers who will decide how TV evolves.”

Better Technology is Always on the Horizon - Keep on Top of It
Technology is advancing faster than it can be accommodated into the media business but many of these new innovations can result in greater profitability for savvy companies. Optimization of ad avail pricing is essentially here. Greenblatt says that “Ad tech is one of the hottest areas. There are lots of new players there. (It will soon be possible to) price upcoming avails in a stream leading to pricing in real time. You can digitally insert specific ad for specific audience in specific time and dynamically re- price.”

In the area of content, the sophistication of new viewing platforms may require more careful integration of technology to maximize the viewer experience. Jens Loeffler of Adobe noted that “Sports is challenging technically in cross platform. There is a need for higher resolution and frame rates for fast moving content. We need to focus on good compression and capacity.” In fact technological needs vary by sport. According to Eric Black of NBC sports, “In golf and swimming, compression is critically important. We need to differentiate tuning for a specific sport.”

Don't Fear Change
The only way to succeed today is to embrace change. Some companies are immersed in advancement but there are still too many that are mired in inaction - preferring to stick to the traditional way of doing business until forced to react. Rentrak’s Bruce Goerlich noted that "Inertia is our biggest challenge." Taking a chance is risky but change-paralysis is riskier. According to Willner, "By far the most successful businesses are ones who understand consumers’ behaviors and how they change.  If we spend time protecting the status quo someone else will come along with the best new widget. So we need to change or perish."

Fostering this atmosphere of rapid change are the accelerating announcements of mergers, acquisitions and new inventions / methodologies whether it is TWC and Cablevision or CBS or HBO. Where is your company in the discussion?

First published, in abbreviated form, on

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