Yesterday I had the pleasure of moderating a super session at INTX 2016, the cable TV industry’s annual trade show. The title was “Is Content Really King? Understanding the Value of Platforms in a Crowded Video Space.” The session included Steve Shannon (GM, Content and Services, Roku), Evan Shapiro (EVP, Digital Enterprises, NBCU) and Matt Strauss (EVP/GM, Video Services, Comcast Cable).
It’s no secret that there’s more great video to watch now than ever. That’s created challenges for viewers to find what they want and for content providers to fully monetize their ever-growing production investments. That’s why the role of platforms is increasing in importance.
In the session we first address the questions of what exactly a “platform” is and what value does it creates in the ecosystem? Each panelist had a different take on this, saying a platform has the primary relationship with the end user/viewer, is a curator/aggregator/recommender of content, is a software stack / cloud infrastructure to add new features, a method for third-party developers to launch new apps, a promotion engine to drive new business for partners, etc.
Given the breadth of answers, clearly the role of a platform is multi-faceted.
As the conversation progressed, the panelists also stressed the important role of discovery and reducing friction for viewers to find what they want to watch. Feeding the complexity of finding desired content is that SVOD services’ rights to past seasons have dramatically increased, increasing the likelihood that access to past seasons is separated from access to current season episodes.
As a result, we discussed windowing, stacking rights and where the market is heading for content distribution. As has been reported, the broadcast networks have put a huge emphasis on gaining stacking rights from studios to satisfy pay-TV operators’ interests. Matt noted research showing that contrary to concern that full stacking would lead to lower ratings, it actually does the opposite, driving more interest in current viewing. Matt said Comcast now offers 700 different shows fully stacked vs. 4 or 5 just a few years ago.
Finally, underscoring how the world of platforms is evolving, Evan discussed the launch of SeeSo (NBCU’s new SVOD comedy service) on Amazon’s streaming partners program. He said Amazon featured SeeSo and talked about how enormously powerful it was when the promotional “firehose” was turned on.
Overall, it was very engaging session with a lot of great insights about how important the role of platforms is becoming and where the larger video industry is heading.
Watch the video below: