DENVER -- Cable Next-Gen IP Strategies: Entering the Zettabyte Era -- The multi-screen market is still plagued by platform fragmentation and business model uncertainty, but it is nonetheless critical for the cable industry to aggressively pursue multi-screen opportunities for additional revenue from consumers and advertisers, if only to ward off competitors such as Netflix Inc., Google and Amazon , according to a breakfast panel here Tuesday.
The top five cable U.S. MSOs could make as much as $2.7 billion simply by selling multi-screen as a $5 add-on to existing customers, said Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Alan Breznick, conference chair and moderator of the multi-screen panel. That's not necessarily the business model they will be pursuing, however. Forty-percent of cable companies surveyed by Heavy Reading admit they don't know how they will find profits in multi-screen service delivery.
That pursuit can cost "tens of millions of dollars" just to get started, warned Eric Rosenfeld, senior manager of engineering for Ooyala Inc., which created a multi-service platform for multi-screen video. That expense reflects the need to build for multiple OS platforms, including Apple Inc.'s IOS, Google's Android, Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 8 for mobile phones as well as game consoles and connected TVs, just to deliver streaming video.
"Ad delivery is still another challenge," he said, as is content rights management, security and customer engagement, and at this point the industry is becoming more fragmented, not less so.
However, content owners know that to stay relevant to their customers, they must be able to reach those customers on their chosen devices, which increasingly are tablets, smartphones and connected TVs, said Peter Roberts, VP of sales for Starz Entertainment LLC. His company is making content available for TV Everywhere distribution on an authenticated model and running its own branded platforms: Starz Play, Encore Play and Movieplex Play.
The authenticated approach enables cable operators and content owners alike to identify specific users, versus households, which can help in developing a targeted advertiser model for multi-screen content, said Robert Klippel, VP of new products and operators for Comcast Spotlight, the local advertising arm of Comcast.
That could make services such as mobile video-on-demand a more lucrative play, he added.
Personalization of services will be a key attribute that multi-screen services must deliver, agreed Michelle McGarry, VP of U.S. marketing and business development for ThinkAnalytics Ltd., a company that has developed a personalized video recommendations engine for set-tops and connected devices. That personalization has to take into account the specific user, their location, their device and more, such as available bandwidth, she said.
IP-based video offers much greater promise than just greater ad revenue, Rosenfeld said, if service providers can be more creative in how they engage users -- he called this "game-ification" of video services, that use interactivity to grab viewers and go beyond just streaming video and ads.
— Carol Wilson, Group Content Director, UBM Tech Business Technology Events