Title: Head of pay TV content, TalkTalk
Former Blinkbox and Viasat buyer Will Ennett joined UK telco TalkTalk a year ago as head of pay TV content, a role that sees him strike deals for the TalkTalk TV pay service, which is available through internet TV service YouView. He becomes the first to feature in TBI’s weekly new feature strand profiling leading international content executives.
TBI: What platforms do you buy for, and how do their needs differ?
WE: We buy for the TalkTalk TV platform, which is made available to TalkTalk broadband and phone customers in the UK through a YouView set top box. We’re Britain’s fastest growing TV service with over one million customers just 18 months after launch. We’re a hybrid platform, licensing content for linear IPTV, DTT free-to-air and video-on-demand to bring our customers a wide variety of content and the flexibility to tailor their package to meet their needs.
TBI: What programmes are working best for TalkTalk?
WE: TalkTalk is a platform and so has a variety of different content for different audiences. Most of our customers are new to pay TV and are perfectly happy with the free-to-air channels available and the record, pause and rewind live TV functionality on our box. Customers also have access to all the free catch-up services such as BBC iPlayer and ITV Player. Our higher tier triple-play pack now comes with seven Sky channels included in the package – entertainment content from Sky 1, Sky 2, Sky Living, Sky Arts and Sky Sports News.
TBI: And how do you push customers toward premium pay offers?
WE: We are seeing more and more customers engaging in our pay TV packages, or ‘Boosts’ as we call them. Boosts provide access to additional channels or programmes on a monthly basis with no ongoing commitment. Our most popular Boosts are our entertainment and kids packages, but Sky Sports and Sky Movies, and Picture Box also perform well.
TBI: What family content works well?
WE: TalkTalk TV is also fast becoming a destination for family entertainment. To give you a sense of the typical TalkTalk family, our most popular content for a long time was Peppa Pig, only recently topped by the movie Frozen. Additionally, we have been growing our transactional video-on-demand business, TalkTalk Box Office, and a recent deal with FilmFlex has significantly expanded our library of movie rentals.
TBI: Are there any shows that TalkTalk doesn’t have that you would love to run on your platforms?
WE: We have a wide range of content on the box to suit all tastes. Boxsets are incredibly popular with customers and we are working towards improving the line-up on TalkTalk.
TBI: What should distributors know about TalkTalk before pitching content?
WE: TalkTalk TV’s audience is typically a household who want a little more TV, not a lot. Most of our TV customers are upgrading from Freeview and have never had pay TV content before. Therefore, when we acquire content, we are interested in shows that appeal to these customers, encouraging them to try paying for content for the first time. We largely acquire ‘packaged’ content, so we are particularly interested to talk to any providers who have a package of content or a channel they are interested in retailing – be this in linear or non-linear fashion. We do however also buy individual progammes, particularly in the kids genres.
What types of on-demand rights do you require?
We acquire non-exclusive subscription on demand rights. Additionally, we also offer movie rentals on-demand on the platform through our partnership with FilmFlex. Customers can also access on demand movies, TV shows and sport from NOW TV and Sky Store, directly on their TV, on our platform.
What sorts of windows are you buying for?
On TalkTalk TV customers can access content in most windows. For example, customers can subscribe to Sky Movies and receive first pay movies, and the array of 100+ channels can offer content in most available windows. As for on demand rights directly acquired, these are typically non-exclusive library subscription video-on-demand.
What is the key challenge facing digital buyers in today’s market? Do you expect that to still be the case in 12 months?
A key challenge is the increasing competition in the market. In the UK as an example, I can count over 20 different sites and platforms to rent a movie from, and there are a large variety of subscription movie services. However, the opportunity is to provide a platform through which the customer can easily navigate through the plethora of choice, find what they want to watch and easily pay and view the content. We are constantly trying to improve our content line-up, as well as our product, to deliver on this.
Thanks for talking to us, Will.