C-Cor Expands Into VOD Market
Adding nCube strengthens company in new arena
By Ken Kerschbaumer -- Broadcasting & Cable, 1/16/2005 7:00:00 PM
Last week, C-Cor finalized its $89 million acquisition of video-on-demand (VOD) technology provider nCube, a move that broadens C-Cor's inventory. Now the company's offerings span everything from head-end infrastructure to broadband and VoIP services. Dave Woodle, C-Cor chairman and CEO, discussed the future of C-Cor and the industry with B&C's Ken Kerschbaumer.
The nCube acquisition positions you for the VOD market. What is the industry's challenge in getting VOD rolled out successfully?
It is getting to the next level of technology implementation that gives cost-effective flexibility to operators. How will they store tens of thousands of hours of content so that every subscriber has access? If it costs $10 to watch something at home but only $4 to pick it up at the video store, they'll go to Blockbuster. But if the viewer can get what they want for $4 at home, they will.
Free VOD seems more attractive to cable operators, but what is the business upside?
The most important reason to do it: It is another value-added service. To be able to see content you missed the first time is a great capability cable provides that others can't. And it gets people used to VOD.
What should operators expect in terms of the cost of a VOD system?
Historically, they've bought turnkey systems with prices of around $130 per stream. The industry will be moving away from per-stream pricing to a structure that includes the hardware for storage and/or software. Our goal is to lower total cost per stream.
On the flip side, won't the DVR make VOD less popular?
Not everyone will want DVRs because they don't want to plan. They want the flexibility to go back and get something they might have missed.
Digital ad insertion seems to solve concerns over DVR users skipping ads. Is that market evolving?
The first step is that ads will become just a mini on-demand viewing experience. We can figure that out technically, but someone needs to figure out the content side. I do think there will be more customized ads worked into an on-demand environment. If the viewer fast-forwards through an ad, it shows two or three key points instead of a blur.
Is it difficult to place that key-point clip into the commercial?
Not if it's done with a digital ad. We control the fast- forward or rewind; all we're really doing is jumping to a different clip. It is more of a big deal operationally than technically.
Once cable operators do that, it sounds like buying commercial time based on Nielsen ratings becomes unnecessary because advertisers can reach whom they want.
That is the goal. This isn't being held up because of technology. It gets down to privacy issues.
We could categorize 50 types of households, but it's coming down to viewers' getting used to it and understanding what it means.
How do you get them to drop concerns over privacy?
An operator will have to offer something to do with pricing. If you agree to let the operator track what you watch, you pay $30 a month. But if you want no targeted ads, it costs $65 a month.
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