Media: Double Standards - 'The best film and TV streamed to you instantly'

campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 22 October 2010 12:00AM

The launch of YouView and proliferation of internet-enabled TVs will boost an already growing video-on-demand market, Sarah Rose and Michael Comish say.

SARAH ROSE - DIRECTOR OF COMMERCIAL AND BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, CHANNEL 4

- What content do you show and how can viewers access it?

4oD provides a 30-day catch-up service for the vast majority of Channel 4's home-grown content and many acquired series, as well a comprehensive archive of popular programming from throughout its history - so you can catch up on the latest episode of The Inbetweeners and Come Dine With Me or find classic shows from the past such as Black Books, Queer As Folk, Teachers or GBH. 4oD is available free of charge online via Channel4.com, YouTube and SeeSaw, and on Virgin Media, Tiscali and BT Vision TV platforms.

- What do you offer viewers that they can not find elsewhere?

Channel 4's 4oD is the leading commercial video-on-demand platform and we are the only UK broadcaster to provide a 30-day catch-up service alongside more than 4,500 hours of archived programming free of charge. We also offer previews of exclusive content online - recently, the first episode of the new comedy series Phone Shop was available on 4oD on Channel4.com a week before its first transmission on E4.

- What is your business model and how important is advertising revenue?

4oD content is available free of charge, so our business model is based around advertising. That said, we are also interested in the idea of micro-payments and so we may start experimenting in this area.

- How engaged do you think media agencies are with what you are offering?

Agencies are incredibly engaged with 4oD and their reaction is quantified by their continued support and investment in the platform. Channel 4's video-on-demand businesses have grown exponentially and we have been careful to manage a successful ad-to-content ratio, and have done so with significant input from the agency market. Agencies recognise that VoD and multi-platform represent a wealth of new opportunities and have been quick to exploit the platform's coverage and creative principles. That said, we've been proactive about selling the benefits of VoD to our clients. We commissioned a piece of research, In VoD We Trust, which analyses and quantifies the benefits of VoD and have worked hard with agencies to demonstrate these benefits to clients.

- How do you answer criticisms that you offer poor value for money to advertisers as your cost-per-thousands are too expensive?

It's a cheap shot - demand continues to outstrip supply and while we could have matched our televisual ad-to-content ratio, we have developed a counter strategy based on the premise that the experience of catching up online is also different. Our research has proved VoD advertising increases brand recall, drives purchase intent and generates stand-out. It's a premium worth paying when you consider what it delivers.

- What do you think the future is for video on demand?

Bright! When we launched 4oD in 2006, no-one else was doing it and now it has become an accepted and critical part of every broadcaster's strategy. And the future is even brighter - connected TVs will be the next big step-change and we're very excited about the potential of YouView and other connected devices in the market; for example, gaming consoles.

MICHAEL COMISH - CHIEF EXECUTIVE AND CO-FOUNDER, BLINKBOX

- What content do you show and how can viewers access it?

Blinkbox users can stream more than 7,000 of the world's best films and TV shows instantly to their computers, games consoles and TVs. We have content deals with major studios such as Warner Bros, Universal Studios, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment and 20th Century Fox, as well as more than 30 leading independent producers such as the BBC, E1 Entertainment, Momentum, FremantleMedia, All3Media, Revolver Entertainment and Aardman Animations.

- What do you offer viewers that they can not find elsewhere?

The world's best film and TV streamed to you instantly. We have all the latest release movies, modern classics, US TV series and great British programming. Loads of the shows are free, but if you want the latest releases, you'll find they are very well priced. We wrap all of that in a very simple, easy-to-use service that is accessible from a broad range of internet-connected devices including PCs, Macs, games consoles and TVs, all without a subscription.

- What is your business model and how important is advertising revenue?

Because we offer premium pay and free content, the business model is based around providing customers with great free premium content and then up-selling them to pay. This means advertising revenue is essential.

- How engaged do you think media agencies are with what you are offering?

Hugely receptive. There's an enormous appetite within our agency and client customers to find out not only what Blinkbox is doing, but also the video-on-demand sector as a whole. As convergence with TV rapidly approaches and pathways to TV access become more fragmented, our customers need to know how to reach these audiences and the various ways in which they can present their messages. We also take responsibility for evangelising the sector as well as our own interests.

- How do you answer criticisms that you offer poor value for money to advertisers as your cost-per-thousands are too expensive?

We've always priced our VoD inventory realistically, which is why we have little push-back on our pricing structure. Obviously, there are some customers who feel that VoD should be benchmarked against the absolute price of broad TV audiences; however, we feel we provide excellent value against more targeted audiences such as young men or young women. The level of requests we receive for these audiences alongside the obvious merits of advertising online versus linear TV suggest that our pricing structure is currently about right.

- What do you think the future is for video on demand?

Without doubt, the biggest developments in the near future will be the proliferation of internet-enabled TVs and the growth of YouView. Figures suggest that TV-based viewing is driving growth, accounting for 60 per cent of the total VoD market, while sales of internet-connected TV devices will rise to 375 million globally in 2013. Meanwhile, in the UK, this will be driven forward by YouView, which we believe is going to revolutionise the market by creating a universal standard for the delivery of internet video across a huge range of devices.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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