Execs See Hype, Hope in Authentication
Lots of technical, legal hurdles to clear before TV everywhere hits, panel says
By Alex Weprin -- Broadcasting & Cable, 8/18/2009 12:23:54 PM
Authentication will reach a critical mass within the next three years, but there are still lots of technical-and legal-hurdles to clear before we get there. That was the message at a panel discussion hosted by B&C and Multichannel News Aug. 18.
Quincy Smith, the CEO of CBS Interactive, Bob Bowman, president and CEO of Major league Baseball Advanced Media and Marty Roberts, VP of marketing for ThePlatform spoke with Multichannel News Editor-in-Chief Mark Robichaux at the Paley Center for Media in New York.
Smith says CBS is out to make authentication happen, and sooner rather than later.
"The role of CBS is to be an agitator, and to help get this done as quickly as possible," Smith said, adding that authentication programs such as Time Warner's TV Everywhere and Comcast's OnDemand Online do not appear to cannibalize existing business. "[With authentication] the web is not an alternative business model, it expands our existing model."
Part of the challenge is to learn from other sections of the media that have had trouble adapting to the new environment. Roberts cited the music and newspaper industries as two businesses that have suffered as they moved into the Internet age.
"The Internet has disrupted the economics of every other media business sector," he said.
A big part of that is adding value. While newspapers and music essentially took existing content and put it online, Bob Bowman cited his efforts to add interactivity to the live streams, creating an environment around the content that is different than what people will get on television.
"It is not enough to just have the content," Bowman says. "We just can't take these games, put them online and say ‘here you go.'"
But while creatively authentication may be on the right track, it still has serious hurdles to clear. Each of the MSOs on board have different systems for authenticating users, a problem which Roberts says has given his company some headaches. In addition, legal and business affairs executives are still trying to write the rulebook, so to speak, for how to handle the dissemination of content online.
For now, authentication looks a lot like cable in its early days, with a ton of potential, but lots of questions still unanswered.
"There is no leadership, no consensus and no standards," quipped Smith.
The panelists agree that the technology is there, and the desire is there on the part of the content companies and MSOs. Now the challenge is to develop it to a point of viability, and to package it in a way that consumers will want to buy.
We'll certainly see in a year or two whether they are correct in their assumptions. What I find more interesting is how (using 20/20 hindsight) it is now so obvious that newspapers, magazines and the music industry's fatal flaw was just putting their content online thereby usurping their need and demand from their original platforms.
So, looking back...logic would dictate that newspapers at least, should have used the web just like they used (no longer that appealing) special supplements to add readership and ad revenue.
Imagine...a powerful print media directing their readers (plus those NOT reading) to exclusive complimentary content online...perhaps with DIRECT LINKS TO SUPPORTING ADVERTISERS. _ the boat has sailed.
Einsteins theory about "problem solvers" dictates that those who were both a sleep at the switch AND too far from the fray to anticipate these changes be axed...I'm just not sure there are enough knowledgeable newbies qualified to take their place.
A.G. - 8/20/2009 7:32:18 AM EDT
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