Fox Eyes Direct To Consumer

Carey Says Programmer Wants to Play Role in Shaping OTT Products

Twenty-First Century Fox is closely watching developments in direct-to-consumer programming and considers it a top priority, but chief operating officer Chase Carey said a major shift toward SVOD will take time.

“These things have all got to shake out. We want to play a role in leading and shaping those offers for consumers,” Carey said at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom conference in San Francisco Wednesday. “It will be a range of things from add-on products to different types of content offerings that will give the consumer more choice.”

Carey cited upcoming OTT offerings from Home Box Office and Sony as well as current products form Sling TV and CBS, but added that the industry still needs to evolve more before OTT begins to chip away at the current distribution model.

“If you’ve got great content, and great franchises and great brands, there is real opportunity there, but it will take time,” Carey said. “The traditional bundle will have tremendous resilience and will continue to be a mainstay in the vast majority of homes out there.”

But Carey added that a direct to consumer approach is not just a passing consideration for the programming giant.

“It’s not just a consideration; it would have to be a ‘wannabe,’” Carey said. “We have to play a direct role. We have to figure out through it; how do we play a more proactive role in the direct to consumer experience.”

Carey added that OTT has the potential to deliver the promise of TV Everywhere.

“TV Everywhere still is not anywhere near where it should be,” Carey said, adding that ad agencies are shifting more dollars toward digital. “…The promise of a more effective engagement with the consumer is a good thing and we should be developing that and in reality, that is a real opportunity for us.”

Carey also touched on consolidation, adding that while Fox will be opportunistic on the M&A front, it doesn’t need to do deals.

“By and large, we’ve got the assets we need,” Carey said, adding that any future M&A would have to add to its business. “If we were to do something, it will be based on an opportunity that was compelling, not a need.”

But the Fox chief still believes a consolidation wave is coming on both the distribution and content side.

“In the broader sense, we will see consolidation on both sides, and in some cases it will probably be driven by weaker players who will acquire each other or find they don’t have the assets they need to be successful,” Carey said.