On Demand Summit: Business Has Created More Audiences, Opportunities

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New York -- The on demand industry has created more audiences, thus giving more opportunities to content providers that wouldn't work well inside the traditional television model.

That was just one of the takeaways Wednesday during the "Programming Content -- Which Content Will Be Valuable to Viewers...now, and in the future?" panel at B&C/Multichannel News' fourth annual On Demand Summit.

"Technology is changing the business, creating more audiences and creating more opportunities," said Raj Amin, CEO & co-founder, HeathiNation.

Amin said his media company HeathiNation -- which produces and syndicates health and lifestyle video -- is a perfect fit for the on demand industry, because that type of content doesn't play well in traditional television. "Heath is a one-to-one experience," said Amin. "What you care about, when you care about it, [will] always [be] different than the person sitting next to you."

One of the genres that does play well in an on demand world is comedy; Rob Barnett, CEO & founder of My Damn Channel, acknowledged that breaking out of the clutter is what trips up a lot of would-be original content providers. "The hardest thing for everyone single one of us to do in an increasingly crowded world is stand out with original content."

Barnett said My Damn Channel isn't to reinvent the wheel, believing that the "old" rules for regular television could be applied to the online world. "We're big believers in programming regularly," said Barnett. "At our company we do it almost like an HBO or Showtime." Big-name comedic stars such as Paul Rudd, Jonah Hill and Elizabeth Banks have appeared in My Damn Channel programming.

Lisa Schwartz, executive VP, distribution, operations and business development, Sundance Selects and IFC Films, said the booming on demand business has helped expand her films reach -- which are usually art house type movies -- to viewers who wouldn't be able to see it otherwise. "It's sustained [our business] financially to be able to bring a great product to people who otherwise would not have access."

One of the questions facing the on demand industry is just how ad-supported content can survive in a world where audience measurement is difficult at best. Peter Block, president and GM, FEARnet, said that on demand content providers need to prove to media buyers that this industry can service their needs. "The key is to show the advertisers that there is a viable alternative out there," said Block.

Barnett added that a smaller, but more engaged audience may provide better results for the advertiser. "In some cases small is the new big."

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