The rollout of satellite and terrestrial distribution still has much in common with the “wild, wild west” as players continue to explore ways to make the model economically viable, according to Deluxe Digital Cinema’s Joe Hart.

While the technology behind electronic distribution is stable, competing with cost-efficient hard-drive distribution remains a challenge, he told an audience at this year’s NAB Show.

“We’re still at the infancy stages of electronic distribution,” Hart said. “I think we’re going to look for people to come up with creative solutions to be able to service those and bring everyone into an economic model that works… we’re still a little bit in the wild, wild west here.”

Hart, an industry veteran, joined Deluxe Digital Cinema as senior vice president of digital cinema in 2011 after establishing the largest digital cinema satellite network operation in North America, which delivered feature and trailer content.

The industry still hopes to capture a wide enough market to lower the cost of distribution, but it is a challenge. The largest exhibitors around the world, including in Asia, are putting in their own satellite or terrestrial networks – a strategy which is making it difficult to achieve a wide enough footprint to make the model economical.

“The challenge for any one of the content owners, with day and date release, is managing these multiple vendors,” he said.

Other cost factors the industry is battling include subtitling of 3D content, which requires a second transmission (rather than being bundled on the same hard drive) and the ongoing need for hard drive backups if there is a fault with the satellite transmission.

Contact this reporter at [email protected] or on Twitter at @bcswift.

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