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Ads Shouldn't Get in the Way of Content, Says Sling Media: Video

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Troy Dreier: Hi this is Troy Dreier coming to you from Streaming Media East 2016 in New York City, where I'm having short conversations with thought leaders in our industry. Joining me right now is Mark Vena, vice president of worldwide marketing for Sling Media. Welcome Mark.

Mark Vena: Hi Troy, how are you?

Troy Dreier: So glad to have you here. You are talking today on a panel about the great bundling and un-bundling, and the changing way that viewers get their product nowadays. Tell me what you see from your perspective at Sling Media.

Mark Vena: You know my perspective, what we've always been about is making sure the people have access to their TV and DVR content wherever they are. There's over a hundred million families that still have cable and satellite, and we're just big believers that people have a right, to access their home content, and their DVR content wherever they are. Whether they're in the United States, or they're in Europe, wherever they are on the planet. We believe that that shift will continue because people, simply want to be able to consume their entertainment content wherever they are. The don't want to be confined to the living room.

Troy Dreier: So much of what we're seeing right now in shifts in our industry are about consumer empowerment. About people finally being empowered to enjoy their media the way they wanted to, and technology's making that possible.

Mark Vena: Yes.

Troy Dreier: Where's it going next? What is the next level of empowerment consumers will get?

Mark Vena: Well, for the last, 30, 40 years people have always been focused on, appointment television. Where you went home, you watched a program at 8:30, and then you gather around the water cooler the following morning to talk about it. We believe that people's schedules are so hectic, they're so crazed in many ways, they do want to be able to watch and consume their content when they want to watch it. So the DVR of course was the original solution, they really embraced that. Now it's about location. "I don't want to be confined to my home. I want to be able to watch at work. I want to be able to consume content on mobile devices." Mobile devices really didn't exist 5, 6, 7 years ago. That's another huge trend in that kind of dynamic where, people are really consuming and viewing their content wherever they are, and on whatever device they happen to have at that time.

Troy Dreier: It hasn't quite caught up with us frequent fliers yet, though. I think when you're in the air you're often very limited.

Mark Vena: Well you know that's true. Interesting enough, there was a story that I saw about Gogo the other day, and it looks like they're even now upgrading their capability on airlines—who knows what they're going to charge for that—so you actually could stream content. But that's coming. I think one of the last, great frontiers of being able to watch and consume your content is really when you're trapped in that metal box, flying across the country. That time will come when you'll be actually able to consume your content that way, as well.

Troy Dreier: Now with all this empowerment comes a lot of ad skipping. Is that something that you're finding pushback from content owners or advertisers?

Mark Vena: We haven't seen a huge amount of pushback on that from an advertising standpoint. We do believe very strongly, at a philosophical level, that advertisements should not get in the way of you watching content. If there are ads that we're going to deploy, you have to do it in a very very elegant way. Something that doesn't disrupt your viewing experience. You don't want to be hit with an ad in the bottom of the ninth inning, in the seventh game of the World Series, so we're very, very mindful of that. At the end of the day I think people have really understood that advertising is a part of the online view experience and it has to be done the right way, in a way that doesn't disrupt someone's viewing experience.

Troy Dreier: Yeah I think advertising is all about getting smarter nowadays.

Mark Vena: Yes.

Troy Dreier: I welcome that.

Mark Vena: Yes. Well smarter, but also more customized in terms of what that customer happens to be interested in. Of course from an online ad standpoint that's getting a lot easier to do.

Troy Dreier: Exactly with targeting and rich data.

Mark Vena: Correct.

Troy Dreier: Well thank you so much for joining me Mark. This is Troy Dreier, coming to you from Streaming Media East.

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