NCTC Accelerating OTT Content Packaging for Cable Ops

Co-op CEO Rich Fickle tells American Cable Association to expect digital program package plan by early May
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Washington, D.C. -- "OTT is driving a resurgence of customer expectations" for video delivery, which is prompting  the National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC) to develop distribution deals for its member cable companies, NCTC president and CEO Rich Fickle said here Wednesday during an opening panel at the American Cable Association's Summit.

"We hope to make a proposal in the next 45 days," he said, adding that NCTC, an organization that negotiates programming and technology deals on behalf of its membership of independent cable operators, has received responses from 20 members so far that are looking for "fresh ideas" for IP delivery of video content -- possibly without use of a conventional set-top box.  

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In a follow-up interview, Fickle declined to identify the OTT suppliers, but indicated they range from major movie/entertainment packagers (which would suggest Netflix, YouTube or Amazon) to ethnic/language, political and special-interest channels such as comedy, travel or other OTT TV program sources, including content prepared for Sony's PlayStation Vue service.

"OTT is vitally important," Fickle emphasized. "We're going to see its impact on the commercial market side."

NCTC's initial OTT collection -- delivered as an app -- would "open the door for new suppliers" and present "fresh ideas," Fickle said. His comments about delivery without a conventional set-top -- that is, using a Roku player, smart TV or other streaming device -- come as Comcast pushes ahead with its IP video strategy. That approach would lower headend costs, Fickle said.

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Fickle explained that "the key is understanding what members desire" and then to develop a package that is "best for members and suppliers."

He expects that the digital content will "show that the marketplace works."

Separately, NCTC research indicates that 40% of current broadband customers do not get any video from traditional cable video channels. That is, a source told Multichannel News, a sizable portion of cable broadband viewers are already turning to online video sources. NCTC's proposals would monetize and organize cable operators' ability to deliver OTT content that viewers are already seeking. 

Without details, he suggested that it will be possible that some of the NCTC broadband content package might include live content.