Confab execs predict future of TV

Industry folks debate prospects

SEOUL — Industry execs debated the prospects for the TV industry at the Broadcast Worldwide convention in Seoul on Wednesday.

But their definitions of a radical future varied sharply.

“Television is the next music industry,” said Oliver Luckett, CEO of Disney unit DigiSynd. “Interactive TV is dead,” WorldTV CEO Alx Klive said. He predicted instead a future made up of linear Internet TV “channels” created by consumers and shared with their friends.

And while others, including keynote speaker Ben Mendelson, prexy of the Interactive Television Alliance, warned that even good content can get lost in an uncharted swamp, Alvin Lee, Time Warner’s exec director of international relations and public policy in Asia Pacific, said, “Content will always be king for Time Warner.”

While few claimed to have cracked the puzzle of how to make money from user-generated content, numerous bizzers described how the awesome power of the Internet can at least be harnessed.

Luckett said that in a Web 3.0 model, content can be made, or repurposed, to fit different psychographic profiles, such as a “passer” who will circulate clips or trailers to pals, or a “remixer” who will embed branded content in his own works that he then circulates.

Successful versions of this approach have been applied to movie marketing, such as “Mugglenet,” which promoted “Harry Potter” movies on Facebook, and Warner Bros. seeding the Internet with images from “I Am Legend” that were repurposed over 1,600 times and led to 100 million engagements with the pic in the nine weeks around release.

Luckett said that congloms’ strategies are now changing fast from ones in which content is used to generate offline transactions, such as movie ticket sales, to new ones in which new-media content becomes more powerful in its own right.

When “Harry Potter” or “Hannah Montana” content generates billions of views, it becomes platform independent and may define the brand, he argued. “There is a wave of new content of this kind coming in the next three months,” he said.

Similarly, Klive said, “Internet TV has an advantage over music or film in that it can go viral.”

He gave the example of the BBC allowing episodes of its motoring lifestyle show “Top Gear” to play on the Internet, a move he suggested led to format deals recently being struck with NBC in the U.S. and with SBS in Oz.

Park Chong-hoon of Korean IPTV pioneer Hanaro Telecom was on hand with an example of how the Internet has grown up and become more trusted.

“When we first tried a download-and-play model, the Hollywood studios resisted as they feared the hard drive inside the set-top boxes,” he said. “Now they have changed their content policies and OKed the concept if they can approve the digital rights management system.”

Full IPTV is being legalized in Korea and is expected to boom in coming years — if it can overcome competition from incumbent cable service suppliers.

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