Fries and Murdoch remain best of frenimies
September 21, 2013 10.38 Europe/London By Julian Clover
Mike FriesSkiing partners Mike Fries and James Murdoch came to the stage with a familiar message. They could learn from people like Netflix, but ultimately have a better product, along the way there would be a story of gradual growth.
Missing from a panel session fronted by a high profile CNN anchor was any discussion on today’s proposals for 600 redundancies at Liberty Global acquisition Virgin Media.
The UK cablenet has recently announced a deal to include Netflix on its TiVo platform in a transaction concluded before the purchase.
“Our goal is to learn from companies like Netflix, what Netflix has taught us is not the content, but how that is presented to the consumer and we can incorporate all of that because we have the better content,” said Fries. “We see Netflix as a movie channel rather than a competing product, That might not be the same in every market where we may launch our own OTT services.
“We are not good at moving the content from the TV to other devices, we’re not good at bringing contents to the TV, and were not good at the user interface so all our investment in Horizon and TiVo is aimed at that.”
On another recent Virgin ad, Fries commented: “BT Sport is not innovation, it’s just raising the cost of what consumers pay. Bottom line.”
James Murdoch argued there was room for many channels, many pay TV providers, and competition in video and voice. But said it was not a zero sum gain. He said it was difficult to manage the various levels of regulation within Europe when looking to expand.
“It’s regulatory jeopardy when you have member states, then Europe, then someone else. The regulators are so differentiated that it can become so difficult.”
The two discussed areas of mutual agreement, Fries saying the sale of the Chellomedia content business was necessary because it was not core, and openly admitting Murdoch could do content better.
Sky and Virgin have had differences on the sale of rights, most notably when Sky basics were off the cablenet for some 18 months, and Sky Atlantic remains an absentee, not that there was any mention in the session.
A charitable Murdoch, said football need not be held back for satellite alone. “People talk about it and that doesn’t happen because we have a natural incentive to sell to as many people as we can.”