Advanced Television

Google and cable: Uneasy partners

March 5, 2010

From Nick Snow in Brussels

In the most awaited – and delayed – session here at Cable Congress, YouTube – the über-OTT service, came face to face with cable; and everyone was friendly, up to a point.

YouTube director video partnerships EMEA, Patrick Walker pointed out his service was already massive – 1 billion videos a day watched, 1 billion a week monetised – and that this was just the start, he said that in terms of reach and billing dollars, online had achieved in three years what took broadcast TV 15. He also predicted YouTube profit in 2010.

In terms of development, he wants an end to embedding apps in CE devices – they can’t be updated and can deliver a poor user experience, and a move to open browser driven devices. In terms of monetisation for broadcasters, he points to ad sales or co-ad sales and the additional reach delivered by OTT – see Susan Boyle.

When joined on the platform by operators, the concept of conflict over net neutrality was soon raised, though cable is much more relaxed than it used to be. Manuel Cabrero, CEO of KDG, thought online video and super fast broadband were partners with one naturally encouraging the other. Earning money from reselling content was being challenged as a main revenue source by providing the technology, customer management and QoS for others.

As ever, the vital factor is the gateway and its control. Neil Berkett, CEO, Virgin Media, is also relaxed about OTT, so long as the network provider controls the QoS and that means the UI. He confirmed that from next year, Virgin will be using the TiVo open box to bring customers all closed and open video services through one interface. The important thing for Berkett is that OTT providers are open standard and do not try and be gatekeepers themselves. In his sights, of course, was Canvas and he didn’t hesitate to accuse the BBC Trust of ‘a whitewash’ in its determination that Canvas is an open system. “I struggle when government-funded organisations start to try and play gatekeeper.”

Meanwhile, asked if You Tube would ever pay for a guaranteed level of service on a managed network, Walker merely answered that they had already covered the cost of innovation and play-out as their end of the deal.

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