With the rise of video on-demand and over-the-top content available thanks to broadband, viewers have more access to more options than ever before.
“Change in distribution can be a great thing for consumers,” Time Warner chairman and chief executive officer Jeff Bewkes said during a keynote conversation at Variety’s Entertainment & Technology Summit in New York on Tuesday. “Everyone wants VOD , everyone wants mobility,” he said.
Bewkes cited recent Time Warner initiatives, such as FilmStruck, the classic film streaming service that launched last fall, as examples of how the company is tapping into the way people consume video and likened it to HBO, which, he pointed out, has always been a premium add-on to a basic cable bundle.
Bewkes briefly mentioned the pending merger between Time Warner and AT&T, which is going through regulatory review and is, he said, on track to close by the end of the year.
According to Bewkes, there’s a” lot of vibrancy in the ecosystem” right now, from subscription to platforms.
One thing Bewkes is not concerned about is an overabundance of television content. “No. That’s like saying there are too many books,” he said.
But some digital media brands see it a little differently. During an afternoon panel, Bleacher Report president Rory Brown said that while all content represents competition, the actual competition is time. “If someone is binge watching “House of Cards” or playing a game on their phone, that’s time they are not engaging with our content,” he said.
Millennials and Generation Z have different expectations when it comes to viewing habits. According to Deloitte’s most recent survey of consumer technology, media and telecom trends, nearly 99 percent of younger viewers multitask when watching video content. And they are much more likely to watch on a mobile device than on an actual television.
“The concept of channels is actually going out the window for younger generation of consumers,” explained Kevin Westcott, who leads U.S. media and entertainment at Deloitte.
“A few years ago, there was a belief that the younger generation would only watch short form video on mobile, but that is no longer the case,” he said. Westcott cited the example of his children, who have a large screen TV in their room that he said remains black, while they watch content on their phones.
Trevor Noah, the 33-year-old host of “The Daily Show,” also exemplifies this viewing behavior. “I watch most of the things I watch on my phone,” he told the audience on Tuesday during an on-stage interview, explaining that he bounces between programs and watches things on demand. This approach extends to the way he sees digital content for his show as a way to engage an audience that doesn’t necessarily go for appointment viewing, likening it to a movie trailer.
“I think à la carte is the future of viewing,” he said.