CableFAX caught up with Coleman Breland, COO of Turner Network Sales, Turner Broadcasting’s distribution division, before he headed to Vegas for the monstrous Consumer Electronics Show. Here’s Breland’s thoughts on CES, Turner’s TV Everywhere initiatives and the impact of the recent Comcast/Disney TVE deal.
What are you keeping an eye out for at CES?
One of the key things that I look for is digital navigation of content, and by that I mean anything that has to do with connected TVs or any devices that let people experience content and sort of weave it into their life. I’ve gone to CES for probably 10 years now, and that’s what you continually see now. The devices are becoming more personal. What are the devices doing to make the consumption of content more personal to each individual person? And how are they navigating that content. What is happening inside of connected TVs or inside devices that make it easier for each person to have their own type of experience they want to have with content? And that’s what makes it such a great show. Once upon a time it was about just a product and now it’s really about more of what the product experience is for individuals.
Any buzz-worthy products?
I think there’ll be a fair amount of eyes on the continued tablet wars, because those will continue to evolve. It’s always fascinating to see what’s going in inside the products at Vizio, Samsung, LG… they’re all very progressive, everything from storage to digital imaging. But I really think it goes back to how someone takes a device and integrates it into their life… We’ll watch very closely the connected TV component.
Last week Comcast and Disney struck a major deal enabling viewing across multiple devices. What does this mean for the future of TV Everywhere?
Obviously, I don’t have intimate details of that deal at all, but I do look at it as an incredibly strong endorsement for TV Everywhere… Now this content is going to be available on all devices—smartphones, tablets, connected TVs, online… I think the industry in and of itself continues to pick up momentum any time there’s a deal like this that’s announced that talks about multiple screens for all types of experience for the customers. Everything that I read shouted out this is about delivering content to all devices, which exactly is what TV Everywhere is all about. How does the ad-model work, how does it look, what are the windows? All that gets figured out.
TV Everywhere has been around for several years. It’s gaining momentum, but is there any reason it’s not going faster?
There are many moving pieces to make that work. For example, you have to have [content] rights aligned. Whether it’s a studio or a league, they may determine how they want these rights doled out. If you buy product X and you’re a network, [it’s about] what rights are available for you to buy. Do you get to buy online rights, mobile rights, do you get to buy in certain windows? And all that is really the new frontier: figuring out the value of rights and how you work those rights to get it in place. The holder of the rights says, ‘Am I better off selling all of the rights, or do I hold back a certain amount of the rights? And how do I work that, and what is the value?’ We always talk about the cable industry, but the cable industry includes DBS and Verizon and AT&T as distributors, and networks. And they have different platforms—some have wireless, telephony, broadband—but the industry doesn’t move as one thing. Everyone is in the business, but they move at different paces, depending on what their platform is capable of doing and how they want to connect with their consumers.
So the momentum is dictated by each company’s needs.
You’re probably not going to get the top 10 groups and the top 10 distributors to all see the world exactly the same… If you have a full house, and your hand of cards means you can deliver video product over wire and wireless and high-speed, you may feel different about how the ecosystem works together than if you do not have all those cards together. Somewhere in there I think you’ll find a cadence for all the horses running to move forward.
Here’s the other challenge: the cable television industry lots of times is driven by when linear deals are up. So sometimes there may be a network group that says, we’ll address TV Everywhere when the deal comes up. We’ve tried to move more quickly and get authenticated content out there, on a more regular basis—we’re trying to jumpstart this—and others just move at their own pace.
What’s next on Turner’s TVE horizon?
One of the things we’re focused on here is you need measurement on all these devices. I know our research group has been working very closely with Nielsen. iPad ratings are slated for this year and you want to be on smartphones—but the consumer products business is incredibly progressive and they’re going to have new devices, which may complicate the measurement. Ultimately if you’re a network, the best scenario for you is to say, I want someone to watch my content when it can be monetized the best. For us, that’s when you watch live television. Are you watching a C3 window? Since it’s the same ads so you get ratings points. Then it’s ok if it’s not live, because people can then watch for the 72+ hours after that. If measurement’s there, it’s fine for us. The model still works. The industry as a whole really has to help push this point so that you understand how people are watching your content, but you’re getting credit for when they watch it. If you’re an ad-based model that really matters.