Consumers Should Guide Content Consumption, Top Industry Execs Say

Even as technology accelerates viewing choices, consumers drive the programming process and it’s the job of operators and programmers to satisfy customer content demands on whatever platforms they choose to use, top industry executives agreed during The Cable Show’s 2010 Opening General Session today.  When it comes to navigating and managing the abundance of new delivery methods, “I think we have to pay attention to the consumer,” Time Warner Cable Chairman, President and CEO Glenn Britt said.  “Let’s let the consumers tell us when they’re ready.”

Opening General Session at The Cable Show 2010

A line-up of top execs kicked off The Cable Show 2010.

With VOD, the Internet and mobile technologies driving a host of new content consumption complexities, “My job in my company is to enable all that for my customer,” Pat Esser, President of Cox Communications said.

“We are not going to be able to dictate how consumers enjoy things,” Kevin Tsujihara, President, Warner Brothers Home Entertainment Group said.  “They will tell us what they want and how they want it.”

Whichever way the technological winds blow, one thing is clear: Consumers will increasingly demand far more than lean-back linear programming and will demand greater interaction alongside traditional video.  As it is, traditional TV viewing is already increasingly accompanied by two-way interactions, particularly social networking, Viacom President and CEO Phillipe Daumann said.

Reaching out to new platforms is now mandatory as a marketing strategy.  “We have to do that so that the Mythbusters brand remains exciting,” Discovery Communications President and CEO David Zaslav said. He said that story and compelling personalities must come first, with the interactive elements following.

Instead of posing a threat to cable, the simultaneous consumption of content across multiple platforms and the diversification into new delivery methods is “the biggest opportunity that we’re seeing that completely blows our mind,” Tsujihara said.

The next big thing – and a hot trend on the The Cable Show floor – is 3D TV, with the assembled executives pointing to the excitement that 3D technology generated at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.  “I think it’s an opportunity for all of us.  It is a real big opportunity today to delivery something that you can’t get outside of movie theaters,” Tsujihara said.  Gaming could be the factor that propels 3D into the home, Esser said.  “Young users and gaming could drive this faster than most people anticipate.”  Zaslav concurred adding that “Gaming is fantastic in 3D, which will push the sets into people’s homes.”

Keith Lee, CEO and Co-Founder of “real-world” gaming company Booyah underscored the importance of gaming in the new media mix, explaining how his company aims to drive viewer engagement through “compulsion loops” so that people keep coming back.  Indeed, Booyah’s focus on depth, rather than breadth, of content has resulted in 20% of users providing 80% of the company’s revenues. Lee argued that a compelling online gaming experience ought to be like chess: Easy to learn how to play, but difficult to master.

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