NATPE – Technology Driving Content or Visa-Versa?

The pace of change in the content world is picking up thanks to the underlying forces of technology that is driving content distribution and advertising models.  Unlike their peers in the music industry, the video producers and content owners represented at the National Assocation of Television Programming Executives get that the world is changing and are embracing the Internet as a way to bring content to any device. 

From an independent telco perspective, this is good and bad.  Must be a Club Viodi member to read the rest of this article.  Club Viodi membership is restricted to independent telcos.

[hidepost]On one hand, any fear content owners have of franchised IPTV systems and potential privacy should not be a real issue anymore, as they are releasing their content on peer-to-peer and other networks once thought to be sort of a “deathnet”.  On the other hand, these over-the-top efforts could have a long-term and large impact on the traditional franchised, HFC and IPTV operators. 

          Hulu, which is aggregating content from a number of mainstream programmers (e.g. Fox, NBC, etc.) is definitely trying to get to the TV.  I had a brief conversation with Jason Kilar, the affable CEO of Hulu, and they are definitely looking at gaming platforms as one of the first ways they will get to the television. 

          Kilar indicated that in the 3-month period since the launch of their beta, they have been surprised at how long tail content has dominated.  He cited the show Air Wolfe as an example of a show that performed better than expected.  His comments echo what Jim Parker, Co-President of Worldwide sales for MGM Studios, indicated when they, “found that the Princess Bride became #1,” with one of their online partners.  This was unexpected. 

          Another over-the-top enabler/network is Vuze.  Launched at the beginning of 2007, Vuze had over 18 million views per month by the end of 2007.  Gilles BianRosa, CEO of Vuze, pointed out that free products allow producers to reach an audience.  He suggested it takes 20 ad-supported views to equal one pay-supported view.  What they are finding is that they are getting 1,000 to 5,000 ad-supported views for every pay-supported view.  The other thing that ad-supported does is drive electronic sell-through of video products.

          Although only 20% of Vuze’s content is available in High Definition, 50% of their views are in High Definition.  The amazing thing about Vuze is that they have so many views despite the inconvenience of having to download videos and a Java application (I probably wouldn’t do this under normal circumstances).

          Vuze is interesting, as they are providing their underlying client technology as open source.  The quality is quite good, if you have the patience to download content. 

          Roo Networks also used NATPE as a launching point for their distribution network.  Like Vuze, they have created an international distribution network that that delivers both ad-supported and Digital Rights Management protected content.  Their announcement of their partnerships with peer-to-peer networks, Abacast and Pando Networks was significant as it points to the continued lower cost of distribution. 

         Digital Fountain has a Content Distribution Network offering that looks interesting.  They are applying their forward error correction technology to improve picture quality.  This technology could be interesting for IPTV deployments, that are susceptible to noise and electromagnetic spikes.[/hidepost]

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