• 5 Observations from My Digital Hollywood Panel

    Yesterday I moderated a spirited panel at Digital Hollywood. Panelists included:
    Rebecca Baldwin -GM, Zap2it, Tribune Media Services
    Jonathan Bokor - VP, Business Development, Tandberg Television
    Dave Brown - Senior Product Marketing Manager, Cisco
    Rich Cusick - SVP, Digital Media, TV Guide
    Bob Leverone - VP, Television, Dow Jones
    Rex Wong - CEO, DAVE Networks

    I had 5 observations from the discussion:

    1. Broadband video is making its mark - From the panelists' intros, it was clear that these companies are all being impacted by broadband. For example, Cisco used to be all about IP, now "video networking" is driving growth, Dow Jones used to be all about print, now it's creating high-quality original video for multimedia experiences, TV Guide used to be about print and cable, now it has significant online video guide. Broadband's impact is poised to grow further.

    2. With video proliferation, navigation is key challenge - panelists agreed that users' ability to find what they're looking for in the sea of broadband video is a huge issue. Both TV Guide and Zap2it are focused mainly on TV/entertainment content for now, question arises, will there be a one-stop guide destination for all broadband video (TV, films, short form, UGC, news, etc.)? Nobody owns that position right now, so who is best-positioned to fill that role?

    3. Broadband video must be more than just TV - Jonathan made the point most strongly, and others agreed. For broadband to succeed it must do more than just be another medium for delivering existing TV programs. Sure, there's a rush to get broadcast TV shows online, but only real innovation will distinguish broadband from me-too TV delivery. Here, here. I've been preaching that for ages. Broadband offers a whole new creative palette to harness.

    4. Cable operators wary of broadband video - no big surprise here, but Dave made it clear that major cable operators are wary of broadband and are focused on retaining as much control of the video experience as possible. For example, I asked what the roadmap looked like for cable operators to enable users to watch YouTube videos (and other broadband-only fare) on their TVs through cable set-top boxes, and if I understood Dave's response correctly, it sounds like no time soon. Quality, liability, and of course control are key limitations. If cable's not going to bring broadband to the TV anytime soon, might that open the door for third-party boxes?

    5. WGA strike could drive more broadband projects - Rich speculated that a byproduct of a potential WGA strike and writers sitting around would be that maybe more broadband projects would be undertaken. Hard to predict, but there's certainly plenty of interest in broadband-only production, so my guess is writers wouldn't have a problem finding opportunities. Wouldn't it be ironic if the potential strike, which has new media compensation at its core, actually spurred more broadband video?