CES 2009: The future of video

CES and the Future of Video (iStock/CES)Ubiquitous video to the consumer was the topic of discussion in a Digital Hollywood panel I attended at CES.  Rather than focusing on the publishers and media buyers, this panel was manned by those creating and running the infrastructure that allows consumers and marketers to create, optimize, distribute, measure and monetize video.

The group keyed in on IPTV, cable TV and broadband video channels and shared a variety of opinions and insight that will give a sense of the current and future business of internet connected video.

The video marketplace continues to grow for publishers, technology providers and distributors.  The panelists agreed that the current economy and challenging advertising market have yet to put a serious dent in their business.  While there may be some limited staff reductions and hiring freezes, most participants felt their businesses were able to ride out further challenges because of accelerated growth.  In fact, TubeMogul felt their core offering was particularly relevant to video advertisers looking for more accountability and ROI in this struggling media market.  Eric Elia from Brightcove commented that video is now a core part of many companies online business, if they have a Web presence, they are likely using video.  During this economic downturn, the proper distribution and measurement of video assets becomes that much more important.

The download vs. subscription model debate continued and it was agreed that ultimately consumers will determine which business model is the winner.  While paid downloads have been the leading model in the US for video and music, some European and Asian markets prefer subscriptions for entertainment content.  The panelists agreed that a subscription model may have a bright future as users demand access to content from any device at any time.  Music and video content will need to be delivered to a mobile device, a television and a PC in a quick and seamless fashion.  This bodes well for the future of cloud computing and content aggregators like Windows Media Center and Boxee as users build digital libraries of their favorite content and make it available to an array of media players.

Moderator, Marcia Zellers, asked the panelists about the adoption of ad supported video content online.  She said that consumers have always paid for content, whether at a movie theater or to a cable company, but there is some resistance and different expectations from consumers when it comes to internet and new video platforms.

Derek Turner from the Microsoft Mediaroom team predicted that as advertising becomes more accepted as a means for users to access high quality content users will understand and accept the model.  As the advertising becomes more relevant and targeted the users will see it as less intrusive and it will not be considered a detriment to the experience and content.

Some other notable comments:

SwarmCast’s Kelly Egan predicted that 2009 would see a noticeable shift to users streaming live content and events that are supported by advertisers.  Past streaming events like Microsoft’s Live Earth concerts and YouTube Live show the potential for this to succeed at building an audience and integrating advertisers.

Mark Langford from Technicolor called for an end to “JAFB” (Just Another F**in Box) syndrome and asked that television manufacturers and cable operators stop relying on new variations of the set top box as the key delivery point for a full suite of media options.

Brightcove thinks 2009 will be the year that greater numbers of people begin cutting out cable and satellite subscriptions in favor of Xbox 360’s or PS3’s that allow for gaming, TV and movie downloads and social interaction.

Finally, TubeMogul’s Jason Lopatecki believes professional video content will hit the mainstream Internet user this year as properties like Hulu, MLB, ABC and CBS Sports hit their stride in building audiences and appealing to advertisers.