After lots of meetings with studios and operators at CES, a memory popped into my head. “Making camel-friendly packaging”. What on earth does that have to do with content?

Back in the day
I was a product manager for STBs. Our best distributor from Dubai faxed over (yes, it’s that long ago) a complaint. Too much packaging was negatively affecting his pipeline. How?

Our distributor’s best customers transported the STBs by camel. I kid you not. Obviously our packaging wasn’t fit for purpose. He needed camel-friendly boxes to increase sales. So the lesson of this is, don’t assume you know your end-users needs, especially if you are one or more levels removed from them.

Back to today
Turning this to content then. Yes, content should be on all devices. Is that enough – to have 10+ apps on your iPad? I believe consumers want to easily watch all their chosen affordable content from everywhere in one place. Not pay for different packages to piece together their entertainment mix: HBO, Amazon, iTunes, Netflix, sports package, etc. We, the media industry, must find a way of providing the equivalent of camel-friendly boxed content to retain consumers.

Talking with studios, they’re already grappling with this. They want electronic content to be as readily available and easy to buy as physical. You can buy DVDs anywhere, even at a gas station. Electronic content needs to emulate this – be available everywhere, with easy payment.

Some consumers have found a solution to this themselves. Pirate subscriptions! Pirate suppliers consolidate hundreds of pirated premium channels from multiple operators into a single package. And I know from discussions with some content owners, that in certain countries, they feel like they are starting to lose the battle against pirates. How do legitimate providers compete? Is there a need for a media marketplace, where all content is available on a trusted and legal platform?

Going forward
Regardless of the above, security is the one constant. As quality premium content becomes more accessible, the need to protect it escalates. MovieLabs have introduced their ECP requirements. Sports rights holders are also issuing similar types of guideline.

But it’s not just content that needs securing. What about the consumer’s privacy? Cybercriminals are not just illegally redistributing content; they’re also stealing credentials and legitimate providers have a duty to protect their consumers’ details. I’d also argue that they need to inform and educate their consumers about the risks resorting to piracy can introduce. How much of their privacy are consumers willing to sacrifice? Is the appeal of consolidated pirated content really worth the cost?

We all recognize, the current business models need to evolve and adapt with the consumer behavior. Just like the large STB packaging. It’s not what the end-users want. It’s encouraging to see that the industry is starting to address the need for content to be truly everywhere. But it needs to move faster to prevent piracy becoming the norm.