Advanced Television

Malone: there will have to be aggregators

May 28, 2009

Broadband content – including the deluge of made-for-the Web videos – will need “content aggregators” to package programming for viewers, Liberty Media Chairman John Malone said.

“We’d love to be the aggregator; so would the cable industry,” he said, citing the historic parallel of Home Box Office assembling a roster of films to create the pay TV business decades ago. “You try to use your distribution leverage to take advantage” of such opportunities, Malone said at The Wall Street Journal’s “D7: All Things Digital” conference.

Malone suggested that “no single company” may be able to aggregate the wide range of content, and he acknowledged that companies like Netflix are beginning to serve that role for broadband on-demand service.

“The idea of channels has already broken down,” Malone said as he spoke about other content realms, noting that, thanks to digital video recorders and other technology, programming is becoming more show-centric, rather than network-based. He repeatedly cited the value of sports and other “big events.”

Malone called it a “watershed” moment when viewers become willing to pay incrementally for broadband content. He noted that cable networks, including ones in which he has had a financial interest such as Discovery, “only tease on the Internet” with samples and pointers to their linear network programming. Cable networks still do not know “how to monetize” programming on the Internet, Malone said.

Although Malone did not use the term “over-the-top” content, he insisted that, “people will pay [for content] if it’s a channel they are used to paying for.”

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