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Digital Hollywood Panelists Mull Video Everywhere

19 Oct, 2011 By: Chris Tribbey

MARINA DEL REY, Calif. — For the first time since The Nielsen Co. has been keeping track, the number of TV households in the United States is expected to decline in 2012, from 115.9 million to 114.7 million.

That’s just one reason why content owners and aggregators alike need to move fast on offering everything possible on as many devices as possible, panelists at the Digital Hollywood event said Oct. 18.

“There’s going to be a complete obliteration of the business models getting in the way of what [the consumer] wants to do,” said Emil Rensing, chief technology officer for Epix, the pay TV channel operated jointly by Paramount, Lionsgate and MGM. He said operations that restrict access or make it too hard for consumers to enjoy what they buy will either “crumble or evolve, very, very rapidly.”

Disney pays close attention to that, according to Daniel Paul, charged with digital strategy and production for Walt Disney Internet Co. He noted that content companies need to stop thinking like adults, who prefer their content on the HDTV, and start also thinking like young viewers.

“Kids will hands down, nine out of 10 times, will pick this device over their PC,” Paul said, holding up his cell phone. “We have to worry what the expectation is. They just expect it to be there.” Disney’s strategy is to have young viewers finish their content on the TV “and go to the computer and continue the experience,” Paul said.

Doug Marrone, director of business development for Verizon Digital Media Services, said the ability to offer content across a range of devices “is an opportunity to give the consumers more control. They really don’t care how it works.” He also suggested pay TV operators could package offerings across devices and ask a premium for the service.

But ease of use is paramount, panelists agreed. Make it too hard on the consumers, and they could rebel.

“That’s a lot hoisted on the consumer, who could end up saying ‘I’m not doing anything,’” Paul warned. “That’s a problem we have to worry about, if we make it too complicated.”

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