During a panel at the recent CES in Las Vegas, Eric Reed, VP of entertainment and tech policy for Verizon Communications, made a comment that had a pretty upbeat message to it.
“Consumers just want access,” he said. “As long as we make it simple for the consumer—access on their time, and readily available—everything is going to be just fine.”
But how to do that isn’t quite so simple by any means, as others on the panel and at the show maintained. This new multiscreen demand from consumers for content, anywhere and anytime, has presented a host of new challenges for content owners and distributors.
Jon Dakss, chief digital officer for Epix—the premium network co-owned by Paramount Pictures, MGM and Lionsgate—said this requirement to push content across platforms, beyond the TV, has forced distributors and owners to do more to both stand out and make it work. “Search, discovery and personalization have become critical,” he said. “AI continues to be part of the content proposition, and that means an increasing focus on metadata.”
And, on a more simple basis, all this content on all these different platforms means making sure that what works for a 65-inch screen also works for the smallest of smartphones, according to Robert Rodriguez, CEO of multiplatform global network and studio, Natcom Global. “It’s all good to have the technology, but if you don’t have the correct formatting, you lose the consumer, you lose the intent of what you’re doing,” he said. “Formatting is critical.”
Chris Cali, cofounder and managing partner of Spark Digital (formerly DevSpark), a digital content software company, whose clients include NBCUniversal and Discovery Networks, doesn’t envy the challenges facing content companies today in the consumer-says-jump digital world. The viewer has more power today than ever before, he said.
“Consumers are changing the living room experience,” he said. “People are cutting the cord and if you can make everything available in one place, make apps more searchable….”
Mitch Weinraub, director of advanced video products for Dish, put it this way: “What we’re really seeing is this division of content being delivered in different ways. [Having all content available] doesn’t mean you’re going to use content in the same way. How you consume on mobile is different from TV. And we need to keep that in mind.
“[Content] is truly just becoming content. Similar to what cable did in the ’70s, you’ll see done in streaming in the 20-teens…[and] the cord-never millennials will drive that,” Weinraub continued. “Now it’s: How can we make it easier for them?”