Farewell EMA, Hello OTT.X

After more than three decades as one of the home entertainment industry’s key trade associations, the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) is broadening its focus and rebranding to become the OTT.X (the Over The Top Exchange).

According to CEO and president Mark Fisher, the new name reflects the organization’s aim to more broadly support the business of bringing entertainment to the consumer through all OTT means – including transactional video-on-demand (TVOD); subscription VOD, or streaming; and ad-supported streaming (AVOD).

Maintaining that the organization will support digital retailers, channels, networks, platforms, and MVPDs, Fisher said the vision of OTT.X is “a vibrant ecosystem of companies continually advancing the consumer experience and business of delivering audio-visual entertainment through OTT technologies,” while its updated mission is “to connect and nurture the OTT ecosystem enabling innovation, collaboration, and competition.”

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He said the association will  continue to focus on the business aspects of the industry, by facilitating business exchange and community, sharing industry insights and research, organizing and managing industry interest groups such as digital supply chain and retailing best practices, and managing a leadership development foundation.

The new OTT.X logo

The group was founded in 1984 as the Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA), representing the proliferating independent video rental stores that had birthed the home entertainment industry several years earlier.

As the business shifted to regional and then national chains like Blockbuster Video, Movie Gallery and Hollywood Entertainment, the VSDA intensified its lobbying and supply chain efforts and tweaked its annual summer convention, generally held in Las Vegas, to focus more on meetings and less on elaborate booths and exhibits on the show floor.

With the arrival of DVD and the shift in the market away from rental and toward sellthrough, the VSDA scaled down its show even more and in 2006 merged with the Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association (IEMA) to become the EMA.

The last big summer trade show was held in Las Vegas in 2007; the association subsequently focused on smaller conferences and seminars and from 2012 until last year presented the annual Los Angeles Entertainment Summit for key retailers and content suppliers.

The association’s new direction — and name — are the result of its successful OTT_X Market and Conference last July and its OTT_X @ Pipeline in September, Fisher said.

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“After more than three decades, we continue to reinvent the definition of the industry that we serve as well as our model to serve and support it,” Fisher said. “I’m proud that our team — our board and staff, working together — drafted this transformational plan, positioning OTT.X to grow in both the size of its membership and the quantity and quality of its programs and services.”

“There are so many new and emerging channels and networks looking to collaborate with their peers in building a more effective ecosystem,” said Cameron Douglas, OTT.X chair and head of home entertainment at FandangoNow, one of the industry’s leading digital retailers. “I look forward to working more broadly with digital retailers, MVPDs, digital channels and networks, distribution platforms, consumer electronics manufacturers, and all the companies creating and distributing content to these channels, as well as technology-enabling services supporting our businesses.”

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Earlier in the year, Fisher told Media Play News that the association in 2020 will “formally, fully embrace the broad spectrum of OTT delivery, including SVOD and AVOD, while continuing to support TVOD. We plan to contribute significantly to supporting the ecosystem surrounding OTT including platforms, channels, content providers and service providers by expanding many of our already successful programs as well as launching new ones.

“This includes connecting companies for efficient business negotiations in events like our popular OTT.X business exchange, gathering and sharing valuable business insights and industry research in our conference sessions and facilitating the development, evangelization and education of industry best practices such as the digital supply chain work we’ve been doing over the last decade.”


Video Industry Reunion Planned for June 11

Jodie LeVitus Francisco, former Western advertising director and national video manager for Billboard Magazine, has organized the Video Industry Reunion 2 for June 11  from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. at Sagebrush Cantina, 23527 Calabasas Rd., Calabasas, California.

“Following last year’s successful Video Industry Reunion, Video Industry Reunion 2 will bring together friends and colleagues—distributors, manufacturers, members of the media, publicists, replication and packaging execs and other icons who shaped the home video business and helped change the landscape of the film, television and music industries, for an evening of reminiscing, networking and laughs, as well as a recognizing those who passed away, but whose memory and contributions to the industry can never be forgotten,” according to a press release.

All past and current members of the home entertainment industry are cordially invited and encouraged to attend, according to the release.

“Last year I had an idea. Get a bunch of people from the video industry together for a reunion in Los Angeles,” Francisco said in a statement. “The impetus was that we aren’t getting any younger and we are starting to lose some industry icons. Many of us have scattered far and wide from the business. In the beginning, it was like the Wild West—anything went, we could sell anything and we had no rules. Then it became a viable business and all of sudden they were hiring executives from Proctor and Gamble who sold soap! We were selling entertainment and I don’t think anyone in the beginning ever forgot that.

“Last year’s event drew close to 100 people, including folks from San Francisco, Las Vegas, and New York, with all avenues of the industry represented. We also raised money for our own Entertainment Aids Alliance. We expect an even bigger turnout this year.”

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