Does Cox, the 3rd largest cable MSO, feel left out with #4 Charter leapfrogging over it to the #2 spot once the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger is approved and the divestiture shakes out? Doesn't sound like it. The deals would “actually help us move along that continuum of the industry working together,” Cox pres Pat Esser said during the Cable Show's general session Thurs. The deals would “simplify things… create standardized platforms.” For its part, Cox plans to launch 1-gig residential broadband services this year, challenging Google Fiber and AT&T U-verse, both of which are working to deploy similar connections. Cox's rollout will begin this year and announcements will come in the next few weeks, he said. Cable's WiFi initiative is largely about making it easier for customers to sign in through auto-authentication, Esser said: “We want to make it a seamless, very simple and very elegant” user experience. Meanwhile, WiFi is becoming more necessary in densely-populated areas as “video consumption that's happening there is going to require that,” said Rob Lloyd, pres, development & sales, Cisco Systems. Esser noted that some 40% of Cox's broadband customers stream Netflix each month. “We want that to be a good experience… It really is about our broadband connections,” he said. “Netflix keeps me on my toes. It makes me think about the world where my customers want on demand content on any device and anywhere they go.” Perhaps that's why he doesn't believe it would hurt anyone if companies like Netflix started paying for faster Internet transmissions under the FCC's proposed net neutrality rules. “We are not blocking anything. That's the worst thing we can possibly ever do,” Esser said. Another major initiative: cloud services. “Cloud has arrived in the business space… It will arrive in residential space just as quickly,” he said. With cloud, “we are all going to have to move to a new model… a new kind of thinking. That movement is underway right now,” Lloyd said.
Time Warner CEO John Martin opened the Cable Show Tues by calling on the industry to unite around TV Everywhere. With the name TV Everywhere not officially cemented until Feb of this year, Mark Gathen, Cox sr, dir of video product mgmt, explained that the delay was tied to DISH trademarking TV Everywhere in '09. Cox, DirecTV, Comcast and others challenged the trademark, and discussions occurred offline and in Feb. DISH finally abandoned its effort to trademark the name allowing the industry to move full steam ahead on creating messaging around the name. “As an industry, we have had a unified vision for what TV Everywhere can be, but we haven't had a unified voice,” AETN vp, distribution marketing Tracy Powell said, pointing to the inconsistency in verbiage, etc. During a later panel, CTAM showed off some results from its TVE working group, including a TVE logo that can be resized and adapted as an icon to run online, in print and other media. Wait, they're already abbreviating TV Everywhere even though CTAM's own research shows unfamiliarity of the service among many consumers? Not so fast. Mediacom svp, marketing David McNaughton said the abbreviation wouldn't be used until TV Everywhere begins to really mean something to consumers. It is a rather long name, after all. Plus, “it's a lot better than DOCSIS 3.1,” he quipped. Poor DOCSIS. The technical spec's mouthful of a name has been a running joke at the Cable Show, which was used to announce its new public persona, “Gigasphere.” It was interesting to see just how many details this group contemplated–everything from whether the words “sign in” or “log in” appealed more to consumers (both were well accepted, but it settled on sign in because of its prevalence on the web already) and what types of icons are most friendly (a red key indicating the need to sign in and a green circle with a white check showing a successful log in). What happens when someone is unsuccessful in trying to authenticate? Distributors are working to make it easier to find passwords. For example, allowing a sub to search for the password by using their address and other info instead of a hard-to-find account number. Programmers are even lending a hand. Univision plans to operate its own customer service center to help with the TVE issue during the World Cup. “It doesn't make sense to do it 24/7, but it does in particular instance of high volume and high demand,” said Univision vp, audience dev, Greg Weinstein.
No hard feelings in the bidding over Fuse for Revolt co-founder Sean Combs. His estimated $200mln bid failed, with Fuse owner MSG accepting SiTV's reportedly $226mln offer. SiTV's the parent of NUVOtv, where Combs' ex-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez is chief creative officer. “We're big men and women. We have our big pants on. It's cool, that's the way business works,” Combs said during the Cable Show's general session Thurs. He congratulated Lopez: “I sent her a note,” he said. However, Combs did let his feelings out a bit. “To be honest, we were kind of used as a pawn in the situation,” he said. As for the net, Combs said “we are following the footsteps of ESPN and CNN… MTV, they changed their business model… It left a wide open space,” he said, predicting Revolt will be on billions of devices in a few years.
Nick had the most Daytime Emmy nominations among cable nets this year, with 37 nods. The Hub was 2nd among cable nets with 24, a record for the channel. Cartoon had 10,and Disney had 8.
Nice CableLabs shout-out by FCC commish Ajit Pai at Thurs' Public Policy lunch. He said CableLabs ' demo of 1.8 gigabits throughputs was “one of the most impressive things” he'd seen on the show floor and wondered aloud what it may bring if it becomes ubiquitous. Asked about potential sleeper issues, fellow commish Jessica Rosenworcel raised an interesting one: battery power. While batteries aren't exactly in the FCC's wheelhouse, the issue touches the entire telecommunications space given the proliferation of devices keeping connected. — Television remains where the lion's share of video viewing happens across demographics, and the effect of 2nd screens–and platforms–is additive, concurred panelists on a panel about video consumption. “What surprises me is every time we add a new platform for viewing, we grow. We keep thinking we're about to hit the wall, but people are very much toggling and managing their media,” said Showtime evp, program planning Kim Lemon. Even the youngest viewers are still wed to the TV. “Kids move seamlessly through content on different screens, but despite all the different ways to get content, linear television viewing is up,” said Ron Geraci, evp, research & planning, Nickelodeon Group. “We always talk about more is more.” In fact, “Online viewing forces regular viewing to the regular show,” said AMC svp, research, Tom Ziangas. AMC research found 6 of 10 viewers were more likely to become regular TV viewers after discovering a show online, and they had a more favorable impression of networks that provide full-length episode viewing online. In fact, “the 'Breaking Bad' and 'Walking Dead' demo got younger because people found it on [OTT services], and then became regular TV viewers,” he said. FX evp, research Julie Piepenkotter said she doesn't see a downside. “All these over-the-top and online video services provide ways for consumers to stay engaged with a plethora of spectacular product… and in a couple years it'll be a much more fluid process.” The fluidity may be a “cause for concern,” warned AMC's Ziangas, who said those with Netflix access go to there 1st 38% of the time: “This in some way, shape or form will eat away from my linear TV viewing.”
Kudos to everyone who woke up bright and early on the show's last day for NAMIC' s annual breakfast. This year, Madison Media Mgmt chmn/CEO Paula Williams Madison received the Mickey Leland Humanitarian Achievement Award. The annual Cable Show tradition also honored NAMIC's Next Generation Leaders: Time Warner Cable's Sean Coar, Fusion's Isaac Lee, Cablevision's Nodir Nazarov and Fox's Shana Waterman.
John, George, Ringo and Paul (or at least their doppelgangers) rocked Club Nokia Wed night at the Cablefax-AXS TV party and Beatles tribute that featured some incredible music, BBC America's “Orphan Black” cloning photo booth and, of course, hundreds of execs showing off their dance moves on AXStv's live broadcast of the “World's Greatest Tribute Bands” special. If you weren't there, trust us: It was fab. Thanks to the incredible band Britain's Finest, WGTB producer/host Katie Daryl, a bevy of tribute-band artists in full garb and of course all of our sponsors: AXS TV, BBC America, Havoc TV, MAVTV and the Tennis Channel. Catching up with friends and colleagues always rocks–but it's even better when you synchronize your schmoozing to the Beatles (or you know… dudes who look and sound like the Beatles). Thanks to all the “friends of the fax” who made it out! Until next time…