Cable, Broadcast Leverage Alternative Platforms for Success

Execs from CW, DirecTV, others weigh in on adapting to viewers' habits
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The proliferation of alternative platforms and over-the-top -- such as streaming -- content has complicated the playing field for content providers, but they're finding ways to make these new delivery models work to their advantage. That was the takeaway from the panel "The New Revenue and Delivery Models: Keeping Viewers Satisfied And Meeting the Bottom Line" moderated by Variety Deputy Editor Cynthia Littleton Tuesday at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Foundation and Variety's TV Summit 2011 event in Los Angeles.

DirecTV Entertainment Senior VP Chris Long says that while he's seen cord-cutting affect competitors, he doesn't see it affecting DirecTV in the near future. He credits that to its success as, oddly enough, a traditional programming channel.

"We're moving more towards providing content that you can't get anywhere else," he says of DirecTV, which picked up the axed Damages and Friday Night Lights. "So if consumers have a choice to go to a different platform or different distributor, they think ‘I might be giving up [a lot of content] and this premium channel with premium programming.' So I think it's smart for us to be offering those selections."

When it comes to marketing, Rick Haskins, Executive Vice President, Digital, New Technologies, Marketing and Brand Strategy, The CW, says a viral homerun on Facebook or other social media is just as valuable as a 15 fifteen second teaser on the air. He spoke frankly about the essential role the net's streaming platform plays in its success.

"For the CW we have [online platforms] because we can't reach as many people as we want on air. We've tried really hard to build our online platforms, and they've helped us enormously and will continue to," he said. "We've seen that the biggest tracks to CW.com are through Facebook, which shows there is an ecosystem between them. Once we have them there, we can get them to watch other shows."

Verizon has responded to the influx of over-the-top providers with its own version of TV Everywhere, Flex View.

"What we've seen reinforces the point that what customers want is content. They want to get their content when and where they want. What we've seen is 20% to 30% of our base on any given day engaging with online content and with interactive applications," he said, explaining that they've found that library content thrives over new content in that multiscreen environment.

"Not all content is created equal in terms of online consumption," Long added.

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