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Execs Talk Future of VOD, Online, Set-top Boxes at iHollywood Forum

9 Jun, 2008 By: Chris Tribbey

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — To get the business of consumers nowadays, Michele Edelman, VP of marketing for Warner Bros. Digital Distribution, employs the “push, pull and poke” strategy.

“You got to push them, pull them in, and hit ‘em hard,” she said June 9 during a video-on-demand seminar at the iHollywood Forum. “Warner has, I think, the largest library out there. What we have to remember is that traditional marketing doesn't work anymore. You've got to get smart.”

Shorter attention spans, stingy spending habits and an “I want it now” mentality is what content creators and providers are dealing with in today's consumers. Price, available content and freedom to use that content are all issues that need to be addressed.

“If a DVD price is $20, a digital download to own is $15, while for a rental you're looking at $2 to $3,” said Henry Wong, CEO and founder of independent movie download site Zipidee. “And when we move to a (Digital Rights Management) free model, you won't have to worry about the device you're using, the software you're using. Right now you have to download two or three different programs or buy two or three different players.”

“We need more high-def online,” said Ken Papagan, president and chief strategy officer for Rentrak Corp. “The demand for HD is going to continue to increase. … It's related to the amount of product released into the marketplace.”

Rentrak estimated that there were more than four billion online, on-demand transactions in 2007, with free movies being among the top five videos downloaded or streamed online.

“I think 2007-08 was proving the [online video] technology. The end of this year is all about the content,” said Patrick Cossen, VP of marketing for Vudu. His company aims to have more than 10,000 videos available on its rental set-top box by the end of the year.

But with so many set-top boxes already in the house, and many HDTVs coming Internet ready, will set-tops still be around in the future?

“Whether it's a set-top box or not is the big question,” said Pete Kocks with AOL Video, about how Internet video will be distributed to TVs. “And if it is a set-top box, what will break out?”

However it's delivered, on-demand Internet video is proving profitable, if slow-going, compared to physical product.

“It's been tremendous and we're seeing increased growth,” Warner's Edelman said. “Is 2008 ‘the' year [for online video]? It's been a nice year, but we have a road ahead of us.”

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