I spent the last two days at the Piper Jaffray Global Internet Summit in Laguna Beach, California. The conference covered Internet, online content, media and enterprise software (particularly SaaS).
An area of particular interest was content distribution and the rapid change that is occurring. According to the Piper Jaffray research team many companies are poised to take advantage of a shift towards digital delivery and away from physical delivery. We have seen a massive shift in music distribution with the emergence of the iPod and video is next. The FCC mandate that all television stations cease analog broadcasts on Feb. 17, 2009 will also likely help accelerate this shift. It is estimated by the U.S. General Accounting Office that 28.0 million U.S. households will need to purchase a digital TV (DTV) or a converter box. This will ultimately open the door to real adoption of digital delivery of video since consumers will not have to change behavior, just TV’s, to receive digital content.
The snake pit of digital distribution continues to be rights management and the content owners balancing act between piracy and usability. With no standardized digital rights management (DRM) technology in use it is hit-or-miss for consumers. In September of this year a group led by Fox, Microsoft, NBC Universal, Paramount Pictures, Sony, and Warner Bros. formed Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) to address growing consumer confusion around buying, downloading and playing digital content offered by multiple services by working toward a simple, uniform digital media experience. We shall see…we are still in the early rounds of a long fight.
While there were many interesting panels and some very good presenters including Neil Ashe, President of CBS Interactive, and Jason Kilar, CEO of Hulu, the “ahha” moment came during a panel of young consumers that shared their Internet and mobile usage habits. They asked a room full of 30 and 40-somethings why they needed a TV. The shift to digital is being fully embraced by the next generation…time to catch up!