On Demand Summit: Online Video Still in the 'First Inning'

Panel Says Distinction between Linear, On-Demand Platforms is Breaking Down
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While online video has come a long way from just being a place where people upload videos of their cats, Rob Barnett, founder & CEO, My Damn Channel, argued that it is still in early-game stage.

"What inning is [online video] in?" Barnett said to Multichannel News' news editor Mike Reynolds, who moderated the distribution roundtable at B&C/Multichannel News' On Demand Summit Wednesday.

"Just about all the smart people I can find say 'first inning'."

Barnett argues that On Demand platforms should resemble TV networks, with branded channels. He said that My Damn Channel tried to "steal pages from the playbooks" of networks like HBO and Comedy Central.

"We've always believed that you have to reapply some of the best teachings of television programming," he said. "On Demand, but programmed."

Andrew Walworth, CEO, Grace Creek Media & Sportskool Networks, says that thinking needs to change. "We still tend to think of this as a binary choice, either you're doing linear programming or doing on demand."

Walworth did add that he thinks "that distinction is going to break down."

Peter Blacker, executive VP, digital media & emerging business, Telemundo Media, said that "truths are coming out" about on demand and online video. He pointed to three primary aspects that are important for any On Demand platform to have: 1) encores of current shows 2) creating events around programming and 3) creating franchises.

"The audiences are changing behavior, but they're consuming more media than ever, not less," he said. "We need to figure out how to best occupy that space."

"There's new [platforms] emerging on a daily basis," added Jeff Siegel, VP, digital distribution and home entertainment, The Americas, FremantleMedia International. "The ones that exist are even changing in terms of what they are looking for and how they are defining their audience and strategy."

Siegal says the key is to "window it properly," meaning finding the best place for certain content. He cited that, for his company, serialized dramas work the best on SVOD platforms.

"We're in the early days of the 'cable-ization' of the internet," concluded Barnett.