Multiplatform Viewing Problems, Possibilities

Panelists offer suggestions on how to deal with the proliferation of viewing devices with the goal of grouping audiences “into meaningful slices for advertisers."

With TV audiences splintered among so many devices, broadcasters face the challenge of re-aggregating audiences into segments big enough that they have meaning for advertisers.

“Consumers want convenience, they want choice and they want to control costs,” David Ernst, Discovery Communications’ VP of digital media, market resources, said this morning.

However, broadcasters are charged with grouping audiences “into meaningful slices for advertisers,” he said, explaining that doing so is ultimately key to getting “high-quality content to consumers.”

“If we can re-aggregate these audiences and provide them the scale we used to have, then it does make sense,” he added.

Ernst was part of a three-person panel — MTV Networks’ Jacob Shwirtz and Comcast’s Dan Holden were the other two participants — at the second day of the Content & Communications World expo in New York that explored issues facing broadcasters due to the proliferation of viewing devices.

Panelists said multiplatform viewing creates both opportunity and problems for broadcasters.


For example, Shwirtz said, it’s incumbent upon MTV Networks to provide content to consumers on everything from and iTunes to tablet computers to reach audiences who want to access it those ways. However, the cable company’s preference is to have the largest number of viewers use the platform that still matters most: linear television, he said.

“How do we create an experience to consume content when it is most beneficial to us?” he asked.

Creating different consumer experiences on different platforms is one way of doing that, primarily because, that way, viewing programs on platforms other than TV can enhance rather than replace the experience, panelists said.

Content created for tablet computer applications, for example, could include features not possible on linear TV. Digital content that can be used in conjunction with traditional television viewing is another approach that appeals to consumers and advertisers alike, they said.

“We also like to include advertisers in a 360-degrees experience,” Shwirtz said.

Ernst also said that as viewers increasingly want to control when and where they view programming, they are also becoming more willing to incur the costs of doing so, such as sitting through ads.

That has been particularly evident with video-on-demand services, he said.

“Consumers are accepting a greater advertising load if they get something of value for it,” Ernst said. “I think we’re seeing a model for the future.”

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