Craig Moffett of Sanford Bernstein & Co, one of those Wall Street analysts I love to rant about when they focus solely on the next quarter instead of the larger picture, has come out with a report everyone should read. It’s the best explanation I have seen of where the video delivery business is going, and why the cable industry is very well positioned for what’s coming. As you know, I have no intention of hyping a company or an analyst, but when I see something I think others should read, I don’t hesitate to say so. Craig’s underlying explanation, one that I intend to use from now on since it is so clear and understandable, is that we are moving from an era where the viewer "browsed" the existing options and ultimately chose the program or channel, to a new model where we "search" for what we want, select it, and view it when we want it. Of course this is not new, really. You’ve read lots of things, including columns here, that talked about this shift. It has been explained in terms of video on demand, or "non-linear" viewing. The importance of VOD, DVRs, new navigation tools, new remote controls, and the like have been fodder for those of us who speculate on this industry for quite some time. The difference here is I think Craig has put it together in an extraordinarily clear way and walked through all the important steps of what needs to be done to make this shift from "browse to search" really work – and that cable is doing it! I thought the analysis was so good I contacted Craig and asked if it could be made available more widely. Well, as usual, things are not as easy as they seem. The Securities rules don’t allow a piece like his to be "broadcast" around. But if you contact him ( and specifically request his analysis on "browse versus search," he can send it to you. Do it. Read this piece. It’s worth it. You’ll notice Craig (as stock analysts are wont to do) links his report to a company, in this case, Comcast. But the underlying explanation, I think, applies to the entire industry and our competitors. By the way, speaking of Wall Street analysts, I am sure we are going to be hearing from them about the fact that Verizon is starting to get franchises granted to compete directly with cable operators (proving that it can be done!) and that the telcos may have succeeded in Texas in getting local franchising knocked out completely, and are trying to do the same thing on the federal level. Well, we’re not against competition. It has been good for us. But regulation should be fair and equal. I have not read both franchises yet, but a neighboring community to mine, Herndon, VA, granted Verizon a franchise two nights ago. It said it was equivalent to the existing Cox franchise. I don’t know about that, but I can tell you (I haven’t counted the pages…) the Verizon franchise weighs 6 ounces. The Cox franchise weighs 2 pounds, 8 ounces. You think Cox will be allowed to choose which it wants?

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