I had 5 observations from the discussion:
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?
I made a quick trip to NXTcomm earlier this week to moderate a panel, have some meetings and walk the show floor. For those of you not familiar, NXTcomm is the joint event of the Telecommunications Industry Association (the association for telecom technology vendors) and the U.S. Telecom Association (the association of telecom service providers). This show, which drew about 20,000 people, grew out of Supercomm and GlobalComm conferences, is now the telco industry's main confab.
What struck me the most was how much the show focused on video and entertainment. I was at Supercomm years ago and remember it being a bunch of telco engineers inspecting the latest gear for routing phone calls. No more. As new NXTcomm executive director Wayne Crawford explained in an interview with Telephony magazine, "NXTcomm has a much broader conference program in terms of different types of technologies represented a and much more of its emphasis is placed on technology as it relates to the entertainment industry.
Boy, was this emphasis was evident on the show floor. All the big vendors, Microsoft, Intel, NEC, Nortel, Tandberg and others had major booth visibility around video. The telco industry is coming after the IPTV and broadband markets hard, and all of these vendors are providing the enabling gear. Having attended the Cable Show last month, NXTcomm doesn't yet have the glitzy booths of a Viacom or NBCU, but it wouldn't surprise me if they did by next year or the year after. Video is a major priority of the telco industry. Very exciting to see.