The mobile phone phenomenon has emboldened many on their expectations from the Internet space. In a keynote session on Internet TV, Mike Volpi, CEO, Joost TV, stated that Internet TV was the clear future of broadcast. He took the audience through the shifts in viewers’ media habits from TV to Internet with entertainment becoming more personalised. He cited a learning from the DVR content viewing, which indicated that viewers were consuming majority of the content that was aired, but they were viewing at different times than when the show was originally planned.
He further said that Internet TV was all about giving the consumer more choice, and when given more choice, viewers would watch more content. He further noted that younger users were embracing new techniques faster.
Another learning of a platform like Joost TV is that content can be classified in three categories – Head content that is done by many players for the Internet space through their websites; secondly, there is the Long Tail, which is primarily user generated content, which is also emerging since users are trying to do more in the Internet space; and thirdly, there is the Fat Belly, which is the sweet spot for Internet TV. Content that has no other place to be housed in falls in the Fat Belly.
At present, Internet TV will benefit from a mixture of the Head content and the Fat Belly. Internet TV viewers also prefer niche and premium content.
Volpi further explained that the entertainment value chain for Internet TV comprised advertisers, content owners, users and viewers, and was of the opinion that players of all these functions had to perform their roles well. He added, “When you make Coke, you should want to sell it through as many vendors as possible, than just through Coke stalls.” His point was that compelling story telling was a necessary component of branded advertising on the Net, and there were very few places that could give branded advertising opportunities on the Web space.
“Internet TV is a form of distribution and works well when an expert is handling it,” Volpi said. Speaking on some of the benefits, he brought out the points of relevant targeting, allowing measurement and accountability to the medium. He added that the cost per millions (CPM) would stay higher.
Volpi explained, “The trends in Internet TV are the same as those in the mobile phone medium. The early adopters are high-end and tech savvy, but may not really be the kind of target you were looking for. However, that changes at later stages. It starts like this and before you know it, it becomes the dominant medium. So, we have to work together to reach the tipping point soon.”
According to him, Internet TV was an art since it included telling a great story, and science since it involved distribution through new technologies that allowed more creativity, and magic as well, which gave greater user control that enriched the experience.
Citing another example, Volpi said, “When TV started, some of the first shows were talk shows since that was the kind of shows that were done on radio. But as the medium settled down, the content completely changed. The same will happen with Internet TV as well. At present, we are seeing traditional TV content on the Internet, but as the users get more comfortable with what they can do, Internet content will have a whole new face. Internet is an important medium that needs to be embraced.”
While for Volpi, brand needs to make special content for Internet TV in order to give the medium an honest shot, the following panel discussion on ‘Distribution Strategies for Major Media Owners’ highlighted that many players were still re-purposing content for the digital screens. Speaking on the subject, John McMohan, President and Managing Director, Europe, Sony Pictures Television International, said that Networks today were keen on making shows successful through many platforms.
He said, “The distribution strategy has seen the evolution of online business plans and doing it in respect of content. We are experimenting a lot internationally to build brands, and we see that the audience is comfortable in consuming long form of content even in new technologies.”
Kevin MacLellan, President, Comcast International Media Group, explained that in the experience the group had had through its video-on-demand business was that the kind of content that worked with many viewers was movies, sports and adult content. He said, “The best product that can be made pay is still very complicated, and therein lay a problem. Also, television is very expensive today. We are making TV the same way as we have been for the past many years, while everything else is changing. We have to find newer ways to monetise content.”
Agreeing with him, Jeff Berman, GM / SVP, MySpace TV, said, “I believe that a library can be monetised. I don’t believe that the good stuff is only in some part of the curve, I think there is good stuff in the entire curve. When the consumer is given more choice, he tends to consume more content, so there has to be space for everything.”
Tom Toumazis, RVP & MD, Disney-ABC International Television, EMEA and Canada, stated, “One reason why growth in this space has accelerated is due to the quality of television content. Launching a TV show is challenging, and you have to look at the hit rate around you to know that. But there is new committed interest in the likes of live action series, so for a while, we would just be further perfecting the way in which we are making television shows.”
Bringing the digital angle in distribution, Mika Salmi, President, Global Digital Media, MTV Networks International, explained that for networks like MTV, it was important to create communities around their content. He explained, “Largely, the MTV audience is very tech savvy, searches for the content that it is interested in, and finds us. We work on the principle that we should be able to give them a community once they have found us.”
The other points that the panel discussed was that digital mediums would grow better and could be monetised when the broadcasters gave it an honest shot with content that is created for the web. At the same time, broadcasters should be encouraged to do so by protecting the Intellectual Property Rights of the shows of the broadcasters.
They also spoke to the worldwide move by many players at doing global premieres than in different countries at different times. The need for focus on short form content was also highlighted.