New York – Offering skinny bundles are occasionally viewed as what’s required for pay TV operators as they try to meet the challenges of the digital era and attempt to connect with younger audiences.
But Mark Greenberg, CEO of Epix, isn’t buying it. Driving more innovation into video products and services – not a price war – is what will win.
“It’s not about getting cheaper; it’s about getting better,” Greenberg said here at the Next TV Summit, a one-day event that’s part of NewBay Media’s NYC Television & Video Week.
With history as his guide, he noted that it was services like HBO and the cable operators that were the revolutionaries, with the job of making consumers pay for something they were accustomed to getting for free.
Despite the protests of the broadcasters, that didn’t kill the industry. “They were wrong…Instead, it took this industry places it’s never been before” with respect to choice and great programming,” he said.
And while pay TV was the new bar back then, it has become the old bar today.
“When did we move from leading change to fearing it?” he asked. “Just remember what got us here, and embrace it again.”
On that note, he noted that competition has made the industry better, citing the rise of satellite TV, which caused cable operators to go digital, add channels and deliver HD. Telco TV entrants inspired cable operators to innovate with better broadband and to adopt interactive and on-demand video services.
“More new platforms are challenging us to innovate [again],” Greenberg said in a nod to multiscreen video and OTT. “What’s our response? Skinny bundles, rebates…in other words, a price war. Do we really want to get into a price war? It’s not about bundles, it’s about new experiences.”
TV Everywhere, he argued, has not fulfilled its promise yet, as it’s still dealing with authentication and consumer awareness challenges.
But Greenberg did offer up some ways pay TV can get its mojo back, calling on programmers and MVPDs to find a common model for access to previous seasons of shows, and to accelerate that activity. The lack of that allowed Netflix to “create a whole new market.”
He also called for improved search and discovery platforms, and to streamline and build better user interfaces. On top of that, the industry needs to do a better job communicating its value to the consumer, Greenberg said.