Monday, October 24, 2005

TELECOM '05: Starz Says New Programming Parading Will Drive IPTV

Each wave of broadcasting technology has been driven by new programming paradigms and IPTV will be no exception, said Robert B. Clasen, President & CEO, Starz Entertainment. The introduction of broadcast TV in the 40s and 50s led to new programming formats and entertainment markedly different from radio or film; the rise of cable coincided with new networks such as CNN, HBO and ESPN; and the emergence of direct satellite providers similarly led to new channels, new networks and new sports programming packages. Clasen argues that IPTV will break the programming paradigm wide open again and that telcos should be ready to capitalize on this opportunity.

Starz would like to be a programming partner with IPTV providers. Today, cable and DBS providers look upon content developers are mere suppliers, said Clasen, and the business discussion always boils down to the price for carriage. Clasen argues that IPTV providers should use their platform to experiment with new formats and new ideas. They should try different channel bundles, and even a-la-carte channel subscriptions. They should also seek out new content for playback on a variety of devices, from big screen TVs, to laptops, PDAs and 3G phones.

Clasen also argued that IPTV will break the current programming paradigm in other fundamental ways. For instance, the concept of channels will radically change in an environment where must content may be watched via DVR or on-demand. Similarly, the notion of a 30-minute or 60-minute TV show becomes obsolete when fixed broadcasting time slots go away. Advertising will no longer follow the same rules. Starz is experimenting in these areas and Clasen urged IPTV providers to innovate in order to break into the market.


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