Cable VOD Needs Ad Gains, Innovation


New York — Cable’s desire to improve the free on-demand
business by increasing ad revenue and giving consumers
more Netflix-like options was on display at a distributionfocused
panel session at the On Demand Summit.

Rebecca Glashow, senior vice president of digital media
distribution at Discovery Communications, said ondemand
channels have become more viable revenue sources,
mostly through deals with providers such as Netflix and
Amazon for library fare.

Discovery is careful with those deals to only make relatively
older fare available, about 18 months after first broadcast,
though. It’s mostly for fans who want to “binge” on
shows that aren’t on the air any more, she said.

Discovery would very much like technology that makes
inserting ads easier, to catch up to the Internet and make
video-on-demand a better business proposition for the
networks. It’s already a superior video offering than
Netflix, with more current and relevant programming
firmly integrated into the TV, Glashow said.

David Purdy, senior vice president of content at Canadian
media conglomerate Rogers Communications, said
Netflix tapped into a consumer willingness to pay for ondemand
programs — notably older “catch-up” episodes of
TV series — that cable should have been going after, too.

Consumers are anxious to tap into video vaults such as
those held by Discovery, the WWE or the National Football
League, he said.

His hope is that Internet protocol-based technology will
expand cable’s ability to add subscription on-demand services
in categories such as international channels from
Asia or the first two seasons of ABC’s Modern Family.

Innovation in such areas as searching through ondemand
video choices also has to come via Internet protocol,
which all cable companies are moving toward, he said.

“On a going-forward basis, I really hope as an industry
we are much more customer-centric and … take chances
with new business models,” Purdy said. If customers
want to spend $50 or $80 on subscription VOD services
and pay less for trimmed-down linear lineups, the choice
there is to meet that demand or lose viewers to file-sharing
site BitTorrent.