Europe's online source of news, data & analysis for professionals involved in packaged media and new delivery technologies

An industry executive speaks

In a series of Q&As, frontline practitioners in all facets of the packaged media and digital delivery industry share their views of things past, present and yet to come. It's the turn of STEVE BROWN, CEO of Cinram.

Where do you see your company's comparative advantage in this highly competitive market?

Our ability to provide our clients with a complete end-to-end supply chain gives us our advantage. Being able to accommodate any stage of order fulfillment, from order to cash to putting product directly into a consumers hands', truly differentiates us.

Amongst the range of services you offer, which one did grow in importance over the past 2 years, which one diminished, and which new service(s) will you be offering in the coming 2 years?

We are having a lot of success with our eCommerce Fulfillment services. Both new and existing clients are paying more attention to reaching the consumer directly and we're having many positive conversations around this concept.

Are you considering a strategic move, or have you already implemented one, into a completely different product or service market?

With our steep history in managing content for the Home Entertainment industry, we remain focused on the diversification of media distribution and best serving the evolving needs of our clients. But we have also honed in on key strengths which have been a part of our DNA for decades. Our ability to physically manage and move product for clients is something that we're focusing more on and are now offer to clients in new markets.

There's a lot of alarmist talk about the rapid demise of packaged media in the face of online delivery. What is your view as to how long discs will be around? And what could become the main target market of packaged media?

CDs and DVDs have done well this year; in fact they have grown by some measurables. I foresee the disc format maintaining strength for another 5 - 7 years, perhaps even longer for Blu-ray.

Cloud-based UltraViolet digital locker makes inroads in Europe very slowly. What needs to happen for consumers to embrace this digital service? Could UltraViolet be superseded by large retailers' own digital locker system or by Netflix or Amazon Instant Video?

Cloud-based systems will grow. UV is great, but poorly executed. The cloud-based approach will be retail-based and I have no doubt will continue to grow and prosper as digital offerings and its infrastructures improve.

Do you think UltraViolet has the potential to increase sales of BD discs (as the studios intended) or be the death knell of the packaged media?

UV will not be the death of physical media. Consumer education is still a problem for Blu-ray.

How much of a revolution does smart TV represent, given that consumers are already comfortable using other screens (laptops, tablets and smartphones) to access Internet-delivered content?

The biggest growth opportunity with the connected television will be in the area of OTT channels. Seamless data connection to the larger screen will give both content creators and consumers more options. However, we also need to be cognizant of potential increases in piracy, as connected televisions essentially remove a layer of complexity for viewing pirated content on a larger screen. The OTT offerings will have to be user-friendly and consumer-budget conscious.

Ultra high definition 4K TVs are coming to the market. Is this a response to consumers demanding a better quality picture or a push by CE manufacturers who need to introduce higher-margin products?

It's a hard tell. Most new technology in the history of Home Entertainment has been driven by the CE manufacturers; we know this as Cinram has been involved in all advancements since the 8-track. When technological advancements are driven by consumer demand, heavy consumer education is not required; Apple has proven this with the success of iTunes. We still have a way to go, as technology such as Blu-ray is still not fully understood.

Do you think 4K could be the shot of adrenalin Blu-ray needs given that a BD disc is best suited to bring ultra HD content to the home?

Blu-ray is a great product, and 4K will truly do justice to content formatted in the highest of definition. The CE launch will be the key.

How to you see Hollywood squaring the circle between the inexorable fall of high-revenue producing packaged media and the unstoppable rise of low-revenue generating online digital delivery?

I think instead of millions of transactions at $10 we will over time see five times more transactions at $2 dollars growing to 10 times the transactions at $1. The demand and absorption of content will remain, that is the economic model which will change as the world's digital infrastructure does.

What is the next technology or service leap you are anticipating?

Fast, reliable and easy-to-use and operate digital retail systems. From anywhere on anything at anytime. Whether that's a one-off transaction or a subscription basis.

If you let your imagination run wild, what system, format, application aimed at delivering content to the home would you like to see implemented in 10 years time?

Wow, if I told you what my imagination really sees I'd be disclosing what we are working on. Let's just say, easier, better and more immersive experiences in entertainment viewing.

This is one of several executive interviews included in the DVD and Beyond 2015 magazine. Ask for your free copy....

Article Comments

comments powered by Disqus

On predicting the future

Predicting the future, let alone the future of packaged media, is a perilous exercise, and possibly counter-productive, as the exercise closes doors rather than keep them open, argues JEAN-LUC RENAUD, DVD Intelligence publisher. Consider that: Apple was left nearly for dead 15 years ago. Today, it became the world's most valuable technology company, topping Microsoft.

Le cinéma est une invention sans avenir (the cinema is an invention without any future) famously claimed the Lumière Brothers some 120 years ago. Well. The cinématographe grew into a big business, even bigger in times of economic crisis when people have little money to spend on any other business.

The advent of radio, then television, was to kill the cinema. With a plethora of digital TV channels, a huge DVD market, a wealth of online delivery options, a massive counterfeit underworld and illegal downloading on a large scale, cinema box office last year broke records!

The telephone was said to have no future when it came about. Today, 5 billion handsets are in use worldwide. People prioritize mobile phones over drinking water in many Third World countries.

No-one predicted the arrival of the iPod only one year before it broke loose in an unsuspecting market. Even fewer predicted it was going to revolutionise the economics of music distribution. Likewise, no-one saw the iPhone coming and even fewer forecast the birth of the developers' industry it ignited. And it changed the concept of mobile phone.

Make no mistake, the iPad will have a profound impact on the publishing world. It will bring new players, and smaller, perhaps more creative content creators.

And who predicted the revival of vinyl?

(click to continue)...