While panelists couldn’t agree on how much it will cost stations to add streaming, they were unanimous in their conviction that such a move is inevitable. “We’re very, very bullish on the continued growth of more and more video content being consumed [via streaming],” said Disney’s J.R. Grant. “We want to put the content in front of as many eyeballs as we can.”
A panel of experts on TV Everywhere was unable to answer a key question: The cost to TV stations for launching and sustaining a streaming TVE service.
The cost question arose during a Wednesday session at the NAB Show in Las Vegas in which the progress of TV Everywhere was discussed and assessed by four panelists, none of whom, it should be noted, represented the interests and concerns of TV stations.
The panelists were: Paul Mears, SVP of client engineering for Nielsen; Keith Wymbs, chief marketing officer for Portland, Ore.-based Elemental Technologies; Campbell Foster, marketing director for Adobe Media and Ad Solutions; and J.R. Grant, VP of production and technology for Disney ABC Television Group.
Moderator Sam Matheny, NAB’s chief technology officer, is the one who asked the cost question. After a moment or two of awkward silence, one panelist blurted out: “It’s all over the board.”
The answer reflected the many complexities and unknowns for TV stations as they attempt to figure out the ramifications for them in diving into the TVE business. While the panel might not have had a ready answer for the cost question, they all agreed that on-line streaming of TV content is growing and here to stay.
“We’re very, very bullish on the continued growth of more and more video content being consumed [via streaming],” said Disney’s Grant. “It’s a very complex ecosystem,” he said, referring to the many types of devices consumers are using to access streaming content and, more to the point, the challenges of measuring the many forms of viewing for the purpose of monetizing these new sources of viewership.
The panel did have an answer to the question of how TV stations can make money from TVE after it’s up and running: Local ad avails — whether sold specifically for the stream or simply carried over from the linear content where they first appeared.
“Right now, the easiest way to monetize it is to dynamically insert all the ads in the live stream,” Grant advised. “It all depends on where you can make more money. If you’re selling an ad at $25 CPM for your linear, and you want to continue getting that within C3 or C7, keep doing that. If you’re getting $40 CPM for dynamically inserted ads … then by all means, insert the ad dynamically. It just depends on where you’re getting the most cash.”
Adobe’s Campbell made the assertion that TVE is “just now starting to see broadcast-size audiences,” which means, to him, that TVE “is starting to [become] meaningful for advertisers.” However, he cited only a tiny handful of examples where a TVE stream garnered audiences in the low millions — portions of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, last year (most notably the Games’ opening ceremonies) and Major League Baseball’s opening-day games earlier this month.
He said MLB opening day drew a streaming audience in the low 2 millions across all platforms (reflecting multiple games) — a figure that most national TV networks would consider less than “broadcast-size.”
Why is the growth of TVE and other streaming services inevitable? Because its spread serves the interests of content producers and providers such as Disney, for example. “We want to put the content in front of as many eyeballs as we can,” Grant said. “At the end of the day … we’re just trying to get as many eyeballs aggregated as possible.”