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BOSTON – The growth of media consumption on personal devices, the desire to add programming without incurring capital and content costs and aspirations to reach viewers in growing multicultural populations came together at a breakfast session at INTX on Wednesday.
A programmer-and-distributor tandem talked up the Vemox over-the-top product Olympusat is pushing that enables pay-TV providers to add live and on-demand Spanish-language programming. Jaime Montes, director of content acquisition and digital TV services at Consolidated Communications, a telco (formerly known as SureWest) with a digital-TV product, said it embraced Vemox as part of an effort to add programming in bulk without having to do many separate linear launches. He said Consolidated hopes to have a full OTT programming array – a la Sling TV – by the third quarter of the year, though it won’t replace the need for traditional TV via the set-top box for at least a decade. “It’s a complement to the linear package that we have out there.”
Olympusat Holdings CEO Tom Mohler said IP delivery of packages like Vemox gives distributors flexibility in packaging and the ability to reach mobile devices.
Christian Martinez, head of U.S. multicultural sales for Facebook, got the session started by observing that video consumption “has gone to our mobile phones.” That in turn has changed storytelling, requiring that some stories be told quickly, to audiences that are relatively young and accustomed to dealing with more than one screen device at a time. “Let’s break the mold” in terms of reaching multicultural audiences, he said.
Javier Garcia, senior vice president and general manager of multicultural services at Comcast Cable, said his business area is a key center of growth at the company. “We had the best year in multicultural ever at the company,” he said. His team is responsible for introducing new products and features at a rapid clip, he said. In addition to video tweaks – such as launching TV Japan on video on demand – those products target multicultural customers for voice services and home security, he said. A native of Colombia, Garcia said home security was a concern for his family when moving from Bogota to homes in the United States, based on their experience of living in a dangerous place.
Other speakers at the event emphasized the need to offer the right content to targeted audiences. TV One vice president of marketing & partnerships LaTanya Butler, for example, said African-American audiences are eager consumers, but expect programming to stay “true to your culture.” David Hanono, vice president of digital development at BBC Worldwide Latin America and U.S. Hispanic, said he has found that quality programming in the documentary, nature and scripted realms from the BBC translates well from “British English” into other languages. “There is tons of appetite for scripted content,” he added, an observation that Mohler of Olympusat echoed.
Condista partner Jorge Fiterre; Patrick Rivet, head of worldwide distribution at Thema-Alterna TV; and Mark Walton, president of sales and marketing at One Caribbean Television, also shared in the conversations at the session, which was produced by Multichannel News. Walton even brought a moko jumbie action figure, representing the stilt dancers that are a brightly colored fixture at carnivals in the Caribbean. Not all consumer groups – including African-American ones – are homogeneous, he said.