The once-combative stance between broadband service providers and over-the-top content and application providers has eased significantly over the past year, as both sides have come to appreciate the value the other brings to what is potentially a profitable relationship.
For many broadband ISPs, a changing attitude is the result of recognition that broadband is, in fact, their primary business -- and that's a major shift for companies that have thought of themselves as cable TV companies or phone companies. At two very different events this winter -- and sorry, I live in the Chicago area and it's still winter -- I have heard first a group of small telcos and then a group of large cable operators admit that they are primarily in the business of delivering ever-faster pipes into businesses and residences.
One of the final panels of Thursday's Next-Gen Cable Technologies and Strategies conference in Denver was probably the most vivid illustration of this change, and John Childress, Director, Product Management, Residential, WideOpenWest Holdings LLC (WOW) , its most articulate advocate.
While sharing the stage with representatives of OTT content providers ToonGoggles and Pandora Media Inc. , and OTT enablers Roku Inc. and QuickPlay Media Inc. , Childress said he sees WOW's role, in part, as helping enable its consumer customers to discover and more easily access the widest range of content and applications available to them.
"It's a very fragmented experience today," Childress noted. "There's the set-top box with VoD, the DVR, then all these other boxes -- like Roku and others. No one is bringing that altogether for the consumer. Over the next year, we want to see if we can do that, and bring the same experience to the consumer over all devices."
As an individual who regularly has to dig through the basket of remote control devices on the end-table in the family room to find the one which allows me to reset the input on my TV to the cable box from whatever online video source SOMEONE was watching before me, this is an attractive proposition.
But as Childress and moderator Alan Breznick, Light Reading's cable/video practice leader, noted, for cable providers, the seamless experience may be a lifesaver for their video content delivery business. If online video becomes part of the cable service and is delivered seamlessly, as opposed to thorough a parallel but separate connection, consumers like me will see the greater value of the cable/broadband provider's role.
And higher customer satisfaction is never a bad thing.
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading