Advisory Panel: Broadening tube horizons

Mel Alcock, Executive director of commercial sales and development, Fox Kids Europe
March 1, 2004

Mel Alcock, Executive director of commercial sales and development, Fox Kids Europe

‘In an increasingly competitive marketplace, advertisers will have to become more proactive and smarter, as well as work harder to make viewers want to watch ads and respond to them. They will have to immerse the consumer in their propositions, and advertising will have to offer further information through interactivity. That said, this is the second time that TiVo is rumored to be coming back into the U.K. market, and while Sky Plus is making inroads with consumers, the business models for these platforms still consist of significant upfront charges and monthly subscription fees, which may limit the level of penetration both here in the U.K. and throughout Europe.’

Scott Dyer, Executive VP of production and development, Nelvana

‘The widespread adaptation of high-definition is still a few years off, but the switch to wide-screen (16×9) is happening more quickly. Shows that are produced digitally can be increased in resolution to meet the HD standards, but if the source footage isn’t 16×9, the producer is either forced to use a pan-and-scan technique or vertical letterboxing to fill the screen. Nelvana has already made the switch to 16×9 formatting, typically producing content that can be adapted to 16×9 screens in both standard and HD.

TiVo and VOD offer a greater challenge in that these technologies transfer control from the broadcaster to the viewer and offer a new distribution path. Because Nelvana is part of a vertically integrated media company (Corus Entertainment), we have the unique opportunity to experiment with these platforms, as well as models like Internet delivery of our shows and subscription VOD. For Nelvana, the key is access to distribution; if we can’t put our shows in front of an audience, we can’t succeed.’

Fernando Szew, Managing director, MarVista Entertainment

‘As managers of our own and third-party properties, we can’t give away potentially valuable rights, so we are very firm in analyzing present and future value propositions for new rights brought on by these technological changes. High-definition means increased cost for the creation and delivery of programming, while digital video recorders (TiVo) and VOD will adversely affect the traditional advertising models in respect to television programming and conventional sources of income.’

Josep Viciana, President, Neptuno Films

‘High-definition means a great advance in both image quality and sound, and it is an outstanding format that will change the face of the industry as the Digital Betacam is replaced over the next few years. However, this will not bring a big change in content because, fortunately, content will always depend on creators’ talent and on producers’ requirements. Neptuno is currently creating content in HD, and we are expanding our capabilities by investing in new technology and R&D.

There are three main reasons production companies are not adopting HD right now. The first is lack of knowledge of this new format, and the second is that the production costs could increase by about 25% depending on the animation style. The third and most important reason is that broadcasters are not asking for it yet because they do not have the required technology to broadcast in HD. But I’d estimate that by 2010, the majority of production work will be done in this format.’

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