How the linear EPG may yet come to rule the VOD world
The mechanism of commercial trading of channel numbers has been an unexpected success. As a consequence, says Ed Hall, managing partner of Expert Media Partners, new commercial markets in OTT and VOD platform app-based EPGs are only just over the horizon.
2018 was the busiest year yet for EPG trading on the Sky platform, with record prices achieved and a constant flow of transactions involving broadcasters from the biggest to the very smallest. Yet despite this, expert industry pundits and online gurus are calling out again, as they have wrongly for the last decade, the end of days for the linear EPG.
I think not only are they wrong, but that they are missing the most powerful factor at work here, which is that the unexpected mechanism of commercial trading of channel numbers has worked and, as a consequence, I suspect that new commercial markets in OTT and VOD platform app-based EPGs are only just over the horizon.
Since 2003, the UK’s largest pay-TV platform has seen nonPSB channels choose their own prominence on the platform through a system of commercial trading of channel numbers, or EPG numbers as they have come to be known. These channel numbers are now significant assets owned by the broadcasters themselves, and which they can and do frequently buy or sell. It started as a dark and secret market, with mysterious moves appearing on the platform, and both buyers and sellers often agreeing with Sky to keep the nature of these deals confidential.
When this market started, the lawyers and commercial channel managers at Sky felt a little uneasy about such trades taking place on their platform, which they had invested billions in to launch, and as it needed to follow suit, Virgin Media saw a lack of a regulator as a commercial advantage. At that time EPG trading was a secret exercise in which only a few insiders had worked out how to make it work.