Over-the-Top Platforms Shake Up Ethnic MarketGrowth of multicultural content has implications for mass-market TV 8/06/2012 12:01:00 AM Eastern
The debates over the long-term
impact of over-the-top content
have been producing much heat
and very little light. While some have argued
that OTT heralds the end of the traditional
TV business, others note that there
is little data to support this doomsday scenario,
given that TV viewing and pay TV
subscriptions remain at all-time highs.
Beyond the speculation, however, a fascinating
glimpse into how OTT content
would transform an industry can already
be found in the distribution of ethnic content
to Internet-connected devices.
Adriana Waterston, VP of marketing
and business development at Horowitz
Associates, says ethic communities are
particularly important because they are
the fastest-growing groups in America,
and because they tend to have younger
populations that watch significantly more
OTT content. “When you are thinking
about the marketplace of tomorrow, you
have to be thinking about multicultural
consumers,” Waterston says. “They’re on
the leading edge of using technologies.”
market. Dish Network recently announced a major alliance with Roku to
offer a variety of international content on Roku boxes; Globecast launched
an ambitious OTT service called MyGlobeTV; and several start-ups have
appeared, including Internet Broadcast Corp., which just closed financing
for the launch of a Vibble TV service with 60-plus South Asian channels.
Suresh Bala Iyer, CEO of Asia TV USA, notes that IP delivery is much
less costly than traditional satellite distribution, which has helped boost
the number of Indian channels in the U.S. from 25 in 2009 to 110 today.
Of the 19 services operated by Asian TV, 10 are offered via broadband.
Bala estimates that the broadband services have captured around
250,000 subs, or about 40% of the South Asian marketplace, while subscribers
to these services on traditional pay TV platforms have not grown.
“It is the fastest-growing area of the market,” Bala says.
That is putting pressure on more traditional pay models. Globecast
launched its direct-to-home satellite service, World TV, with a wide array
of international content in 1987; this summer, the company introduced a
broadband service, MyGlobeTV. “We had seen subscriber losses because of
competition from the OTT space, and MyGlobeTV is a natural progression
in our offerings” that will give users an array
of broadband content and provide
programmers with a less-expensive way
to enter the U.S. market, explains Emma
Brackett, VP of consumer video products
and services at GlobeCast.
Dish, the largest pay TV provider of
international and ethnic services in the
U.S., formed a wide-ranging alliance with
Roku to supply international content. Jim
Funk, Roku senior VP of product management,
notes that the agreement will help
the company expand its international content.
The deal will enable Dish to reach
customers in apartment blocks or urban
areas without satellite service accessibility.
Other operators have been bee! ng up
the amount of ethnic content they offer via
TV Everywhere platforms. AT&T this year
cut a groundbreaking TV Everywhere deal
with Univision that will eventually allow
authenticated subscribers to access live
streams of Univision networks.
Andy Goodman, AT&T director of
broadband content, says the deal is part
of a larger strategy to expand the company’s
TV everywhere offerings and that AT&T is in the process of
completing additional deals with ethnic programmers.
Telemundo, meanwhile, has also made TV Everywhere alliances a
priority as a way to target Hispanic viewers who are heavy users of
mobile and online video. Peter E. Blacker, executive VP of digital media
and emerging businesses at Telemundo, says they are making additional
content available to authenticated subscribers and have been
delivering a record amount of Spanish-language coverage of the Olympics
as part of the TV Everywhere deals. “It is one of the biggest TV
Everywhere authenticated experiences to date,” Blacker says.
In the wake of these developments, pirated broadband feeds of international
networks have emerged as a major problem, in part because
multichannel operators have been slow to respond to market demands
for more content on multiple devices.
“The truth is that there is a lot of talk about delivering TV Everywhere,”
says Bala. “We are ready to do it, but we have not seen a lot of action.”