With Internet video players giving consumers the ability to order individual shows, cable MSOs may want to tweak their decades-old practice of distributing video content in broad subscription packages, Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) customer systems architect Robert Howald said here at an opening general session focused on "keeping pace with the digital consumer."
"Give them the content they want. Sell it in ways they want to buy it," Howald said. "There might be some flexibility that has to be brought to bear there as people get comfortable, or they start using more over-the-top [video]," he added.
For years, some cable MSOs and consumer advocates pushed cable programmers to allow distributors to offer subscribers à la carte programming packages. (See Downsizing Cable .)
Howald didn’t use the term à la carte in proposing alternatives to the cable industry’s current subscription models. Instead, he suggested that operators focus more on giving consumers convenience and flexibility in the way they package programming, and he also said cable MSOs should begin to integrate Web video into their programming offerings.
"We are entering the Internet era of TV. We believe service providers can flourish in the Internet era by focusing on becoming the consumer’s retailer of choice for all video experiences," Howald said.
OTT players and consumer electronics (CE) firms ranging from Boxee to Google TV and Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE) are looking to drive new revenue streams by delivering Internet video to broadband-connected TVs, Blu-ray players, and other devices in the home.
Technology consultant and former Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) VP of technology Walter Ciciora said CE firms that sell video directly to consumers could threaten revenue from premium programming networks distributed by cable operators. But it's a "difficult business" for CE firms, and cable MSOs will still benefit from OTT video services since subscribers will have to rely on a high-speed Internet subscription to access the content. (See Boxee Eyes Over-the-Top Live TV.)
"What we’ve got to do is make sure that what we offer is easier to use, is higher quality, and satisfies the needs so folks don’t go off and go over-the-top," Ciciora, added.
Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), and other service providers are beginning to pitch subscribers TV Everywhere products that allow them to view TV series and movies from their subscription packages on PCs and mobile devices.
Several technology vendors are hawking gear and software this week in New Orleans aimed at helping MSOs deliver Internet video to subscribers both in the home, and to PCs and mobile devices. Some vendors, including video-on-demand tech supplier Concurrent Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: CCUR), are adding technology that helps MSOs deliver over-the-top video to their product offerings. (See TiVo, Roku Hook Up Hulu Plus and Cable Guys Buck Up for BNI Video .)
— Steve Donohue, Special to