Peter Chernin Defends Periscope, Talks Future of Pay TV Bundle

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The former Fox top executive, who sits on the board of Twitter, says the social media firm's video streaming app had "no intention" to enable piracy.

Peter Chernin on Tuesday discussed the future of the pay TV bundle and Periscope, Twitter's video streaming app.

"I am not convinced that you are going to see the collapse of the bundle," he said at INTX: The Internet and Television Expo in Chicago, the annual industry conference organized by cable trade association NCTA. "I think that's wildly overstated. I do think you will see the bundle probably rationalized in some ways."

Added the former right-hand man of 21st Century Fox boss Rupert Murdoch and now chairman and CEO of The Chernin Group: "What you are going to see more than anything is this tremendous explosion of new alternatives, largely IP-delivered."

He added: "It will in some ways ultimately force the bundle to justify itself, and that’s honestly not the worst thing in the world."

Asked about Periscope's role in Saturday's Mayweather versus Pacquiao boxing match, which led HBO and Showtime to force recordings of the bout to be removed from the app, Chernin, who sits on the board of Twitter, said: "There was certainly no intention on the part of the Periscope guys to serve as a piracy device. The service has been live for about a month and they were moving as quickly as they can to respond to take-down notices... I think it’s something they will perfect."

He added: "I think that the future of those devices is not to pirate other media, and I don't think that's anybody's intention."

Chernin also said: "Some of the other stuff Periscope did, in the dressing room with Manny stuff, some of the behind-the-scenes stuff, the ability to live-broadcast things, which otherwise wouldn't be part of a broadcast event, because you are on a linear feed, is a great opportunity for those things and, I think, is just part of this explosion of viewing opportunities."

Chernin spoke during a session, which was webcast and also featured Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts, who said that piracy makes up the "vast minority" of TV viewing for big events like the boxing match. "The fight was off the charts," he said, but added that for every legal in-home theater "there is always going to be an illegal home theater."

Asked about the most interesting trend in the entertainment industry right now, Chernin said it was the strength of brands, whether it is the NFL, Olympics or film franchises such as Fast & Furious. "Brands are driving enormous value," Chernin said. "Strong brands will not only survive, but will thrive."

Big cable networks, such as Fox News and ESPN, "will do just fine," but "more amorphous" channels will suffer in the future because they are more like aggregation mechanism, and every consumer is their own aggregator these days, he explained.

AOL CEO Tim Armstrong in a later session also discussed content, predicting that "the value of content is going to skyrocket."

Who loses in the new environment? "If you are not willing to put your content online and on mobile, you are playing with fire," Armstrong said.

Twitter: @georgszalai

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