Auds drive digital demand

Disney exec gives keynote address at Mipcom

CANNES — “The customer is king” is taking on a whole new dimension in the evolving world of digital entertainment.

Anne Sweeney, co-chair of Disney Media Network and president of Disney-ABC Television Group, made this point in no uncertain terms in her keynote address Monday night at Mipcom.

“Until recently, as television companies, we thought we controlled the experience viewers had with our content. After all, we were the ones who decided what programs to air and when to air them,” Sweeney said.

“But the digital revolution has unleashed a consumer coup. Today, we are beginning to understand that this means we not only have to create in-demand content, we have to make it available on demand so viewers can get it anytime, anywhere.”

Sweeney recapped some of Disney’s recent efforts to do just that, talking up initiatives to stream primetime programming, post-broadcast, on the Web and partnerships in territories like Germany, where Disney/ABC shows can be seen online up to a week before their broadcast.

So far, some 12.8 million Disney shows have been downloaded over the Internet, and Disney is entering an increasing number of wireless partnerships, spanning South Korea’s TU service to Europe’s Vodafone and Orange services, where Disney signed its first pan-European mobile content deal Monday.

Sweeney also delivered data on the rapid growth of the wireless sector, which currently boasts 2.5 billion connections worldwide. In addition, 500 million wireless customers are being are added each year, with a quarter of that growth coming from China and India. By 2010, experts are forecasting the mobile TV business could be worth more than $27 billion.

“I can’t predict the future of television in the digital era,” she said. “None of us can, because we no longer control it — the viewers do.

“Our business has to evolve to meet their needs, to match their behavior and to support their interests.”

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