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Content Bosses Herald New App Opportunities

24 Sep, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Viacom CEO Phillip Dauman and Disney boss Bob Iger tell an investor group new content-specific apps are key to monetizing a growing mobile consumer base and expanding brand ‘stickiness’

Viacom is launching a new suite of branded MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central apps that enable authenticated viewers to access ad-supported closed-caption content live and on-demand. The apps also enable Viacom to measure audience interaction, which it believes can help it with monetization.

Speaking Sept. 24 at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia confab in New York, Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman said the apps, which currently work for Apple and Xbox’s operating systems only, would expedite user data tracking and buttress Nielsen’s efforts to capture viewing data across multiple platforms.

The ability to insert ads in VOD platforms represents a significant incremental opportunity, according to Dauman.

“More linear viewing outside of the home will increase viewership and increase monetization. That’s a big upside,” he said.

Disney CEO Bob Iger said it is imperative that pay-TV programming be made available outside the home. And content-specific apps are one way to accomplish this. He said distributors must be given the opportunity to sell mobile video to their customers. And doing so will enable them (and Disney) to sell so-called “native advertising” (ads tailored to mobile devices) based on user data, in addition to customized programming.

“The most dramatic change I’ve seen in the 40 years I’ve been in the media business, is the growth of smart mobile devices,” Iger said. He added that while new digital platforms have ratcheted up competition with traditional media, MVPDs have to make the bundled subscription offering more attractive to consumers.

He said Disney has approached MVPDs with apps for ESPN (WatchESPN), ABC (WatchABC) and Disney Channel (WatchDisney) that enable the distributors to better sell mobility to their subscribers. Mobility, Iger said, keeps the pay-TV distributors in touch with technology, as well as an evolving consumer.

“That’s an added value to the distributor, and an added value to the customer,” Iger said.

He said implementing these platforms has to be seamless to consumers in order for them to adopt it.

“To me, that’s very simple,” Iger said.

Virtual MVPDs

Iger, along with Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman, is also keen on the possible implementation of virtual multichannel video program distribution platforms reportedly in the works by Sony and Intel.

Similar to cable, satellite and telecommunication pay-TV services, broadband-based platforms would deliver bundled programming to subscribers via over-the-top service.

Iger said Disney would be “completely open” to selling content to virtual MVPDs distributed via wireless devices. He said doing so affords the media giant an avenue to possible deliver superior content than through traditional channels.

“That’s a positive,” Dauman told investors at a later session. “The more opportunities there are to reach our viewers, the better as far as we’re concerned.”

Dauman admitted Viacom is in discussions with Sony and Intel, but said no content license agreements had been reached. He said virtual MVPDs would drive competition within the market to service viewers better, which would be a win for content holders.

Both Dauman and Iger said maintaining bundled channel subscriptions instead of a-la-carte pricing would be better for the ecosystem and consumers. They said any virtual MVPD delivering current content would be best served catering to authenticated subscribers.

“It’s good for us; it’s good for the distributor to carry a full array of networks that allow people to enjoy more content, subsidized in part by advertising,” Dauman said. “That’s a [business] model that has served everyone well for a long time.”



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