Last Tuesday evening, Piksel hosted a salon dinner at Del Frisco's in New York for around 40 TV industry executives, analysts and journalists like Variety's Todd Spangler. Attendees ranged the gamut from major video distribution outlets to major broadcasters and MVPDs. What was particularly noteworthy was that we had people at the table who'd worked on two of the industry's most buzzed-about developments; Verizon's purchase of Intel's On-Cue and Disney's OTT deal with Dish.
The highlight of the evening was the one-on-one interview between Piksel's Global Lead Analyst Alan Wolk and Will Richmond, founder and editor of leading industry publication, VideoNuze. The topic for debate and discussion was Is TV Dead? centered around the oft-repeated theory that the television industry is in its death throes.
Richmond reiterated the stats that noted analyst Craig Moffett had presented at the last VideoSchmooze event: cord cutting is happening at a rate of 0.5% a year and results from Q4 2013 show that new subscriptions are outpacing new housing formation. That said, if the industry remains in stasis, those numbers could pick up. Wolk and Richmond discussed the impact of a virtual MVPD (or V- POP, Virtual Pay-TV Operator) on the market and Richmond felt that there was not a huge immediate market for it: with pay TV penetration holding steady at 87%, he wondered how many people would switch to an all-OTT solution. Wolk countered that there might be a market for the cord nevers and other young people for whom the idea of an individual, personalized TV service might make sense. Richmond agreed, but felt the transition would be gradual as that cohort is fairly small.
The issue of Net Neutrality has been in the news a lot and Wolk wondered if internet giants like Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon (GAFA) might use it as a way to get Congress to disband the monopoly the MVPDs have over broadband. Richmond felt that it would be a tough battle, as none of the major MVPDs have come out against net neutrality if anything, they seem to be very much for it. Both agreed that the recent Comcast/TimeWarner merger announcement focused the mainstream media on the monopoly/duopoly issue and the pros and cons of the current arrangement.
Wolk closed the conversation on a humorous note by telling the audience that the answer then, is clearly no, to the Is TV Dead? question posed at the beginning of the evening.
The conversation then played out at the table as participants engaged in (occasionally heated) debates about the major industry topics of the day. Add in a delicious steak dinner and the evening was a resounding success.
There are plans to host salon dinners like these on a quarterly basis in America. Let us know if you would like to be kept in the loop with Piksel news, including invitations to our next event.
In the meantime you can find us at NAB from April 7-10, 2014.
Piksel's Global Lead Analyst, Alan Wolk (@awolk) is one of the most influential thought leaders and futurists in the television industry. He was recently named one of the Top 20 Thinkers In Social TV and Second Screen. Wolk writes and speaks extensively where his common sense approach has been hailed as a breath of fresh air.