I skated into the Streaming Media East show just in time to catch the “Online Video and Set-Top Boxes” session. The panel included representatives from TiVo, Showtime, Motorola (my employer), and Verizon, and was remarkably reminiscent of a few of the sessions at The Cable Show last month. However, the conversation always changes a bit based on the individuals involved, and the discussion has even evolved some over the course of a few short weeks.
First of all, Motorola’s Nick Chakalos offered interesting insight about how operators look at the industry today versus one year ago. Last year Motorola believed it would have to convince operators that there was a business model for Internet video on TV. Today, operators are on board and looking for the best way to monetize their efforts.
Second, Verizon’s Joe Ambeault made the case that to make money from TV services operators can’t rely solely on subscription fees or on an ad-supported model. There must be some hybrid of the two.
Third, there are beginning to be real-world case studies of what works and what doesn’t to bring in revenue from enhanced TV/Internet video applications. Showtime’s David Preisman proudly pointed out that Showtime’s interactive TV application already brings in a couple million dollars of revenue a year. On the other hand, TiVo’s Tara Maitra acknowledged that while small-ticket purchases are happening through the TiVo interface, to date there’s only been one big-ticket item (a TV) bought directly through the TiVo’s e-commerce app.
Fourth and finally, everyone seems to be aware the navigation is key to making the next generation of television viable for consumers and the industry as a whole. Whether it’s about enabling effective search or helping subscribers interact with one another, the interface is key to winning consumer interest and ultimately consumer dollars in the new TV and Internet video world.