Profile: Jeffrey Calman

Oct 14, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Title: Executive VP, video-on-demand and pay-per-view, Warner Home Video
Background: Mr. Calman, who trained as an opera singer at Juilliard, joined Warner Bros. in 1980, working on financial analysis of pay TV models. At the time, the pay TV business was just beginning. “We began to realize it was a market for new movies and older movies as well,” he said. He left Warner Bros. to work for several independent film and television companies and returned to the studio in the mid-’90s. He moved in 2001 to Warner Home Video, where he is responsible for the development of VOD licensing and the growth of PPV.
Frenemies: PPV and VOD are often portrayed as the enemies of home video, but Mr. Calman does not consider them diametrically opposed. “We see them as all part of the same digital continuum, as a way to sell tickets into the home,” he said. “Absolutely, they can cannibalize home video. [But] assuming VOD can be a business, given that there is VOD and a large home video business, the question is not of, `Ohmigod, this is terrible,’ but how does one manage the transition? You need [to] see how revenue develops and see how you can maximize revenues in all areas. It is an ongoing analytical balancing act.”
The VOD market: “VOD is clearly growing,” he said. “It’s not growing as quickly as I would like but that’s because cable stocks have taken a hit. There are fewer boxes and less infrastructure.” Besides, the mind-set of cable operators in fostering the pay TV business has been in promoting a name like HBO, rather than individual movies like “Ocean’s Eleven.” That marketing mentality shifts with VOD to promoting specific titles, he said.
Hot-button topic: “What I don’t want is for somebody to get a movie and e-mail it to 350,000 of their closest friends,” Mr. Calman said. “We are discussing various forms of protection technology with various manufacturers, are involved in legislative efforts and in mandating that our licensees work with us to make sure the movie business, PPV and VOD continue to be fair and reasonable businesses. We are mature enough to know things will be broken and the clever guy in the garage can figure out how to break it so then how do we shut the door? What it does mean is that we won’t deal with an entity who won’t work with us to maximize digital rights management.”