Star Gazing: Cable Execs Give Their ’05 Predictions Each year, we ask some of cable’s finest to give us predictions for the new year. Below are some of the serious (and not so serious) prophecies that we gathered for 2005. Cox CEO Jim Robbins: "I predict Viacom will ask John Ashcroft to perform "Let the Eagle Soar" for the Super Bowl half time show. — MTV Networks, following the launches of Spike TV, the 1st network for men, will announce development of the "Straight Network," the first straight network for television. — CTAM will unveil a campaign: "Only Cable, Baby," with Joe Rooney as its spokesman. — CBS will tap Jon Stewart to replace Dan Rather as anchor for the ‘CBS Evening News’ and to serve as a correspondent with ’60 Minutes.’ Stewart is surprised to learn that he has to make no changes to his journalistic, fact-checking practices." Jane Root, evp/gm, Discovery Channel: "One of the big things in TV is you get a great idea that merges with another idea, like in cellular multiplication. So I expect to see some really interesting stuff happening in the reality genre as it meets up with the classical documentaries. I think they got to the end of one particular incarnation, one phase of reality and now people will be looking for it to go somewhere new. — Viewer choice is getting bigger and bigger. I spent my 1st Christmas in America catching up on episodes of ‘The Sopranos’ I’d missed. I come from a culture in the UK where interactivity is much more prevalent than in US … and absolutely, we’re going to see people augmenting and building their own menus. There was a kind of replacement paradigm that TV as we know it was going to go away and things were going to get a lot smaller, but I don’t see that happening. People won’t stop turning out for big events. If the content is compelling enough, people will always come to the really big things." Johnathan Rodgers, pres/CEO TV One: "Al Gore will NOT be named the next president of NCTA." Reggie Bradford, pres, N2 Broadband: "Broadly speaking, clearly cable ops are going to continue to add services that differentiate them from satellite, but I think video remains the key to that bundle and will continue to drive the industry. — HD will continue to proliferate in larger numbers, as sets are coming down to a price point that consumers can actually afford. In keeping with that, cable and satellite will aggressively launch more hi-def channels. We’re still in the early adopter phase, and while it’s not so easy to market to the mainstream in the sense that you have to get the programmers, the ops and the retailers all in line, things are definitely coming along. Super Bowl parties will help spread the word. — Although Wall St has undervalued cable stocks for a while now, the improvement we’re seeing by guys like Comcast will push the whole industry up as they continue to generate cash on all those advanced services. — As far as IPOs, it’s hard to predict. The market’s pretty choppy and you’re going to continue to see consolidation. It’s such a tight industry." Ellen Schned, svp, affiliate ad sales/marketing, Court TV: "Comcast will acquire a major network and/or studio."