Moving video content to multiple devices is emerging as a must-do business model for cable operators and content providers alike, but pesky technical challenges, along with some serious back office and rights management issues, are slowing its progress.

That was the prognosis for the three-screen model of delivering video content to TV sets, PCs and mobile devices by panelists at Communications Technology‘s "Any Stream to any Screen" technical breakfast on Monday.

"We’re seeing service providers adding more content and distributing it to other devices. But it’s getting more complex," said Russell Zack, vice president of product management for Anystream. Three challenges (at least) Much of the complexity, Zack said, comes from the three major challenges to delivering video content across three screens. "The industry is moving very fast regarding mobile and other formats. But there are production challenges, management and monetization issues," he maintained.

The convergence of Web, mobile and video is an emerging business model for not only cable, but also content providers and the entire supply chain, said Kip Compton, senior director and GM of video and content networking for Cisco.

"Cable is positioned well for three screens, though not in a strong position in wireless as yet. But over time, we’ll see it addressed. The challenges now are in the back office, security, accounting and workflow," Compton said.

The wireless play, maintained Rick Rioboli, vice president of video product engineering for Comcast, remains in the early stages. "Wireless is the weak spot, and we’re working on Internet content to TV. But payment for content, DRM, billing and back office issues are big challenges." Two worlds Despite the back office, rights management and workflow issues, the business model that will deliver video content to multiple devices is a work in progress, and for service providers such as Comcast, an appealing one.

"We have one system of video streaming to TV and another to deliver video content to PCs. But they’re two different worlds, with lots of pitchers and catchers. We’re working on making that a more flexible environment," Rioboli said.

For content providers such as Disney ABC TV, figuring out the workflow problem is a top-of-mind issue as it moves to a three-screen model. "Workflow is huge, along with setting up metadata scheming. But in the past two years, we’ve learned a lot about getting the content delivered," said Brad Williams, executive director of media engineering for Disney ABC TV Group.

At the end of the day, concluded Compton, the model for "any stream to any screen" is about consumer consumption. "It’s all being driven by consumer consumption. They want to watch video when and where they want. That is the fundamental consumer demand. And we’re seeing operators looking into differentiating their offers as competition intensifies."

– Craig Kuhl Read more news and analysis on Communications Technology‘s Web site at

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