Next TV Summit: Networks See Digital Success Through TV LensesCBS, Fox Execs Note Importance of Preserving Traditional TV, But Differ on Approaches 9/20/2012 8:57 PM Eastern
San Francisco -- CBS Interactive president Jim Lanzone and Fox Networks president of distribution Michael Hopkins both stressed the importance of preserving traditional business models, while adapting to rapidly changing consumer habits during keynote interviews at Multichannel News/B&C "The Next TV Summit."
Those interviews also included wide-ranging comments about original web content, piracy, "TV Everywhere" and the future of Hulu during the conference here Sept. 20 that attracted over 250 participants from both tech and content companies.
Lanzone, who had been a successful internet entrepreneur before taking charge of CBS Interactive, noted that CBS has made a concerted push into digital media, building up "top 10 Internet" property and was continuing to invest heavily in creating original content.
But he noted that they have also done this in a way that complements their traditional focus on premium content. "We are the only top 10 properties are in premium content," he noted. "The others are in search or social media, not premium content."
While Lanzone noted that they were continuing to look at acquisitions, he added that they would be focusing on deals that would be profitable from day one and companies that fit in with their premium content strategy.
He also stressed that they would be cautious in their approach to monetizing that content. "There is a disrupting side of things that could be potentially threatening to business model if you don't attack [digital distribution the] right way," Lanzone argued.
In a separate keynote interview, Fox's Hopkins agreed on the importance of preserving traditional models, but offered some different approaches.
"I think everyone has realized that there are a lot of benefits from advances in new technologies," Hopkins noted, pointing to the fact that the Netflix and other over-the-top to providers were creating new revenue streams and that these platforms were helping boost ratings for their long running series.
"But we have to be smart about how to move forward," Hopkins noted.
He also admitted that there are pressures on traditional business models form over-the-top "There is pressure on the bundle and the job of folks [like myself] are to manage that through," he noted.
To preserve that business model, Hopkins once again stressed the company's focus on TV everywhere models that make content available on multiple platforms.
Multichannel TV "is already the best entertainment option in America when you stack it up against any other option," he argued. But economic and other pressures mean they "have to create more value inside packages. If we can reinforce the value of that product, we will be in a great spot 10 years from now."
Hopkins admitted, however, that TV Everywhere "is not where it needs to be. We have to get to point as industry where every piece of content is available in a non-linear form in every device, where it is really TV everywhere not TV in a few places, which is what it is today."
But Hopkins outlined several encouraging signs, both on the consumer side, where the Olympics sparked a bit uptick in usage, and on the business side, where a number of major programs have made major TV Everywhere deals this year.
"Two thousand thirteen will be a big year for TV Everywhere," Hopkins noted. "If we are back year next year at this time, I could see the amount of content tripling or quadrupling."
Currently Fox has TV Everywhere deals with a handful of distributors but expects to be "95% there next year."
He did, however, acknowledge some uncertainly with TV Everywhere models. Currently Fox has an eight day holdback before network content becomes available for free online. But he said that could change if others begin offering different windows.
Hopkins also stressed that the Fox and the other partners in Hulu were "very excited" about making it "part of the pay TV ecosystem," so that subscribers to pay TV providers who had cut TV Everywhere deals could get quickly access content on Hulu.
But he admitted that the move to TV Everywhere models created some uncertainties. "A lot of [operators] weren't interested in [having their subscribers] going to Hulu to authenticate," Hopkins.
Lanzone declined to comment on the future of Hulu, saying "that chapter has yet to be written," but he defended CBS's decision not to join Fox, ABC and NBC in backing the streaming video platform.
Keeping tight control over their content on CBS.com, he argued, had paid off by with increased traffic at CBS.com
"I wasn't there for that decision [not to investing Hulu] but it was the right call," he said. "We want to control and distribute our content."
That has allowed them to maintain "44 straight months as the number one TV network site rather than just having piece of pie," he noted.