OTT.X Speakers Discuss Diverse Models and Importance of Better Discovery and Data

Industry leaders from all aspects of the home entertainment business said there’s a place for all the different business models, including transactional (digital rental and sale), subscription streaming, ad-supported streaming and rental kiosks at the OTT.X Fall Summit Aug. 31 in Los Angeles.

Still, gathering data on consumers’ tastes and helping them discover content are key challenges in the marketplace, said speakers on the “Insights From Today’s Industry Leaders” panel.

In the next three to five years, the home entertainment marketplace will continue to offer a smorgasbord of options that consumers will cobble together, said Cameron Douglas, VP of home entertainment at Fandango.

“I think people will have some sort of primary subscription service … peppered with an add-on subscription portfolio. … You would have a digital library … then I think you’ll rent a couple of movies over the weekend,” he said.

Philippe Guelton, chief revenue officer at Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, noted chairman and CEO William J. Rouhana is “very bullish” and that the company “started from scratch five years ago,” acquiring different entertainment players. Most recently, Chicken Soup acquired Redbox, with its streaming services, transactional digital business and more than 30,000 kiosk locations renting discs. Guelton said the physical presence has “amazing power” and that Redbox is a “amazing brand.”

“We’re going to be more diversified,” he said, noting the Redbox kiosks are “grossly underestimated as a business.”

Combining Redbox’s businesses with Chicken Soup’s existing Crackle business is “really targeting a value conscious consumer,” he said.

“The Walmart consumer is a large part of our country,” he said.

Cinedigm is “business model agnostic” said Erick Opeka, chief strategy officer. He said one of the industry’s key challenges is helping consumers discover content they want to watch.

“We’ve got 100 years of programming at everybody’s fingertips, and no one knows how to sift through it,” he said, adding Cinedigm is exploring “natural language” AI for better content discovery.

Key gatekeepers are platforms such as Vizio, speakers noted. Katherine Pond, group VP of platform, content and partnerships at Vizio, said the company collects useful data that it can share with content partners.

“We have the ability to see what consumers are watching,” she said. For instance, if Vizio data shows a spike in viewership, she can say, “Let’s go talk to that network about making a FAST [free ad-supported streaming] channel about this.”

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“Some platforms recognize sharing of data creates a good ecosystem,” said Opeka, noting that Vizio “is one of our best partners in that regard.” Still, he said access to data is often tricky as such exclusive information is valuable.

Guelton pointed out that Redbox — through its 40 million customer loyalty program — and other segments of the Chicken Soup business also collect useful data about customers.

“It gives us a currency that we can maybe trade,” he said. “This is data that studios want.”