Pace of Technology Change Leaves Some Dealmakers Gun-Shy
The accelerating growth in the number of devices capable of accessing and displaying professional video content is having the paradoxical effect of slowing down routine dealmaking between content creators and distributors, according to some TV executives.
Speaking at the Variety Entertainment & Technology Summit earlier this week, A&E Network EVP of distribution Lori Conkling said uncertainty about how, where and when video will be consumed over the next 10 years has left many content owners gun-shy about long-term licensing deals.
â€śWhen youâ€™re doing a 10-year TV Everywhere [licensing] deal with [a MVPD] there is a certain amount of risk there, because no one really knows where the business will be in 10 years, or what kind of devices might become widely adopted three to five years from now,â€ť Conkling said. â€śFive years ago, who had heard of an iPad? But if everyone just stays in their corner and does nothing because of the risk, no deals are going to get done. Everyone is going to have to accept a little bit of risk to get deals done.â€ť
According to MTV Networks SVP for strategy, content distribution and marketing Melody Tan, TV Everywhere itself may be contributing to the problem.
â€śFiguring out what windows or devices are part of your pay-TV subscription is becoming a real challenge [for consumers],â€ť Tan said. â€śConsumers used to understand and accept that when content went to non-pay TV windows or came in a different format, like DVD, or it went to iTunes, that was a separate transaction. ThereÂ wasn’tÂ this sense you have now that, I have a pay-TV subscription so the content ought to be free to me in these other windows.â€ť
The same could be said of some device makers as well, according to Univision SVP of digital distribution Renee Plato. “You have a lot of CE companies right now who want theyâ€™re screens to be used to view video content, but we need to make sure weâ€™re getting paid for the value weâ€™re bringing to these screens,” she said. “Unfortunately, CE and these other device makers are not always willing to step up there.”
The friction is likely to get worse as the rate of change increases.