Cable Show 2010: Content Ubiquity: Threat, Opportunity and Reality

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More coverage of Cable Show 2010 from Mutlchannel News and B&C here.

Attendees at Wednesday's opening general session at The Cable Show must have felt a sense of sinking déjà vu as the discussion with such industry leaders as Comcast's Brian Roberts, CBS Corp.'s Leslie Moonves and Time Warner Inc.'s Jeffrey Bewkes re-hashed the same issues that have been plaguing content creators and distributors at this time last year.
Moderated by former Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell, who has segued from the federal payroll to Providence Equity Partners, the panel cogitated on the brave no-longer-new world of alternative screens and whether the proliferation of screens and technology presents a "great threat" or a "great opportunity," in Powell's words.
"It's reality," Roberts said, stating the obvious. "So you've got to turn it into an opportunity. In my opinion, video wants to be on any device any time."
The key, he added, is creating a business model that consumers want to use and that allows all content providers and distributors to get paid.
In a video segment at the panel, Roberts demonstrated a prototype iPad app that lets users control their cable box. The Comcast Xfinity remote interfaces with set-tops allowing subscribers to easily search television content from the Apple device. A pop-up keyboard lets users search for content by name, as opposed to scrolling through hundreds of channels on their set-top. Users can switch channels via the iPad's touch-screen guide and also invite a friend to watch what they're watching, a popular staple of social networking sites.
Roberts conceded that Comcast, its merger with NBC Universal currently proceeding through the regulatory process, needs to step up its tech innovation. And his iPad demonstration filled that bill, although he did not say when the app would hit the market.
"I think the strategy of the cable operator side of Comcast is not to make the big bet but to be the big enabler," he said. "The creative community adapts [to the technology]. So, too, do the providers. The major goal is giving you all of the [content] that you want to watch but on a device you want to watch it on."

Read more at B&C here.