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Digital Hollywood Speakers Debate Viability of New Models

20 Oct, 2009 By: Billy Gil

Panelists discussed monetizing digital content through such hot-topic initiatives as Time Warner and Comcast's TV Everywhere, connected TV sets, set-top boxes and ad-supported services such as Hulu, on Day two of Digital Hollywood Los Angeles Oct. 20.

At a panel dubbed "Ubiquitous Video to the Consumer," Mitch Berman, CEO and co-founder of set-top box service Zillion TV, said TV was the "most powerful medium in mankind and will remain so.”

Zillion TV plans to grant users access to video without subscription, supported by user-selected ad categories.

But when asked how many set-top boxes is too many for consumers, Amy Friedlander Hoffman, president of Priority Digital Media, answered that more than two was too many. She, along with many other panelists across the conference, which is taking place at Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel through Oct. 22, said integration of devices was key.

Panelists also spoke about how content holders must serve as “gatekeepers” of content. Even YouTube director of strategic partnerships Kevin Yen said YouTube is not inherently against content holders keeping tabs on their content, and that they have a right to compensation.

Panelists often discussed TV Everywhere, and if the model, designed to give cable subscribers online access to shows from the channels they subscribe to, would end up yanking content from studio-owned Hulu, or, as G4 Cable Channel CEO Neal Tiles put it, force Hulu to “evolve.”

Jessica Schell, SVP, digital strategy and business development, NBC Universal, hinted that might be a possibility, saying TV Everywhere could open up more premium content online from providers such as HBO through its process to identify users that have subscribed to cable.

“For premium content, there need to be business models to support that,” she said, noting that consumers don't want to watch five times as many ads to stream premium content online.

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