Broadcast, OTT video complement each other, Sling TV, Kaltura, other execs say at IBC

AMSTERDAM -- Traditional television is not being replaced by over-the-top video: In fact, services like Netflix can complement linear TV, some executives are saying at IBC. And while it sounds like rhetoric, there is some hard data coming out that supports the idea.

Roger Lynch at IBC keynote

Sling TV's Lynch (Source: ibc.org)

"Almost 90 percent of our subscribers have Netflix," Sling TV CEO Roger Lynch said at a keynote session. "It's really a very complementary service to ours. We have live sports, and Netflix has movies."

Lynch said that his linear OTT service is watched mainly in the living room on the big TV screen, in terms of the number of hours viewed. That increases the potential for broadcast networks to be watched alongside streamed content. The various channels or networks now available via broadcast or pay TV will continue to play an important role when it comes to creating new content.

"I think channels as aggregators and producers of content will be important, but channels as linear streamers of content will be less important," Lynch said.

Michal Tsur, co-founder and president of Kaltura, a multiscreen services provider, noted the way that individual celebrities who built their fan base on broadcast television are using online video to augment their linear programs. For example, Ellen Degeneres drives viewers of her Ellen show to her "Ellen Tube" OTT channel as well as her original YouTube channel. "It's an additional place for you to monetize your content and do marketing. She uses it in a very smart way to get additional views and traffic," Michal said.

SPB TV, a multiscreen service provider based in Switzerland that powers IP video solutions for several pay-TV providers globally, revealed in a new survey that linear television is as popular as ever. While the television set is the most popular screen for viewing destination-type content -- major sports events, mainstream movies -- consumers also want to be able to watch content on other screens whenever they want.

"All screens is a must-have feature," said Kirill Filippov, CEO of SPB TV.

The company surveyed 60,000 viewers from its customers' 45 million viewer base worldwide. It found that viewers' reasons for watching TV haven't changed much since 2014: 47 percent prefer to watch major sporting events on the living room screen, for example. TV also beat out PCs, tablets and smartphones for other genres like news (41 percent), comedy shows (34 percent), and children's shows (27 percent). And while linear TV series were watched more often on PCs than other devices (45 percent versus 37 percent), viewers wanted to watch movies delivered by linear broadcast on their big-screen television (48 percent). 

Sintec Media's Moses Zelinker, VP of marketing and product development, was also firm in the belief that traditional TV is a long way from dead. "It's not legacy, this is a business. It's not an old thing," he said. Sintec handles content rights management for media and entertainment companies and other industry players. "We need to put things in perspective. Digital is there, but we still make money from linear."  

One issue is that OTT and traditional TV rely on different infrastructure, creating not just a technical challenge but driving siloed thinking as well. Zelinker said that the industry should remember the days of early broadcast systems, where siloed systems did not interoperate. Eventually standards were developed to end that. The same thing will happen with broadcast and OTT, he said. "We just need to get the two sides together; that will happen."

Full coverage: IBC Live 2015

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