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Panel: Piracy, Windows for TV Content Here to Stay

13 Jun, 2012 By: Chris Tribbey

CULVER CITY, Calif. — Andrew Goodman, director of content and programming for AT&T, June 13 voiced the concern of most everyone in the TV industry: “I don’t think anyone in TV wants to end up like the music business.”

It may sound far-fetched, but between piracy, cord-cutting and the emergence of the TV Everywhere concept, the idea their business has to be very careful was weighing on the minds of industry executives here at the Contentric 2012 event.

Consumers are pirating TV shows by the millions, largely because they don’t want to pay for the premium channels such as HBO, or they’ve gotten rid of cable or satellite altogether. Cord-cutting is a very real concern, with the average monthly pay-TV bill expected to hit more than $120 by 2015, according to The NPD Group. And while more and more pay-TV operators are offering TV Everywhere, giving subscribers access to content on the go, operators are mixed over how and when to offer that content.

“The concept is if you’re already paying a monthly fee, that’s enough and you should get the content where you want it,” Goodman said.

But how to treat that content when it gets out of the linear environment? Erik Moreno, SVP of corporate development for Fox Networks Group, notes that HBO content, when moved outside of the channel itself, should be ad-supported, unlike when it first shows.

“Therein lies the real complexity of the business model,” said Martez R. Moore, EVP of digital media for BET Networks. “What are the consumer expectations when it comes to the consumption of this content across platforms.”

As for windowing content after (sometimes before) a broadcast premiere, panelists were split on what’s right for which content, but did agree that windows aren’t going anywhere, and aren’t likely to be streamlined among providers.

“I admit, it’s confusing. There are no standards for windows,” Goodman said, noting that entire seasons of one show can be given to outlets such as Netflix or Hulu right away, while others can’t. “That’s why Netflix spent a lot of money on ‘Mad Men,’ but wouldn’t invest in something like ‘Law & Order,’” he said.

One thing’s for sure, panelists agreed: A la carte programming — say, paying $8 just for HBO instead of $60 for a cable subscription — for premium content isn’t on anyone’s radar.

“Is there a viable product that fits in that price point that allows the traditional product to continue to exist?” Goodman asked.

Kesila Childers, director of digital media for Bunim/Murray, producers of shows like “The Real World” and “Road Rules,” doesn’t think that model exists.

“The economics have to stay in place if we want to keep the quality of content we have now,” she said.

Goodman agreed, adding: “Consumers say they want to buy everything a la carte, but they want to do it while cutting their bill 90%,” he said. “If every network was $5 a piece, there wouldn’t be as much enthusiasm.”

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