CTAM Research Committee chair Charlene Weisler sat down with Dr. Angelina Li, a member of the CTAM Research Committee and the Founder and President of AHL Consulting Inc. The company was founded in 2000 and works across a range of disciplines – from demand forecasting and market segmentation to customer satisfaction measurement and competitive benchmarking. 
 
What do you think is the most dramatic change in the industry in the past five years?
 
AL: I think the conversion from the one-way cable network to the two-way network is most profound. The reason I say this is because of what is happening now: for the first time cable TV has become part of the so-called global village… Because of that [the development of broadband], we can communicate to any home in the world that is connected to the Internet.
 
Again, I would say that this is a very profound change and the fact that we are evolving into a digital network is a great thing. Other things like gaming and on demand, for example, are changes that make entertainment easier and provide more options for consumers. This all became possible because of two-way interaction of the network.
 
Where are the innovations coming from – cable, broadcast, gaming, broadband?
 
AL: The innovations are really coming from cable… The broadband business and all the sophistication of the cable business, which involves DVR, HDTV and On Demand, are all a result of the digital networks. When you look at other businesses today, scarcely any have come up with as many innovations as cable. We have stayed a step ahead of the telephone industry. The network is very flexible and it affords utilization by multiple users, and also it lends itself to all different types of businesses. Again, single industries have rarely produced so many innovations in so short a time.
 
What do you see as the role of CTAM research in the industry?
 
AL: The role of the CTAM Research committee is to provide guidelines and standards. For instance, we can look at new methods of interviewing respondents. Providing methodological standards is another thing that we can do, along with providing a database [historical resource] that tracks what is happening in the industry. For instance, the propagation of different technologies and the extent they penetrate the cable world.
 
The Research committee should also conduct studies that have broader capabilities, from which the entire industry could benefit. For example, examining the propagation of gaming. What is the potential of selling video games via cable? Those are the types of questions that can be answered through a proper research project. We can also ask questions such as what are people are doing with TV viewing time, to what extent is TV viewing impacted by broadband? How does the broadband video option affect traditional video on TV?
 
Another important thing is that the committee should foster the sharing of information between cable operators. We are in a collaborative, not competitive, mode. I think sometimes it is difficult for individual companies to look at the contour of the competitive landscape, so if CTAM has an industry wide database that collects this information, such as how satellite and RBOC are working, that would be very useful for the industry.
 
Please share three predictions for the next five years.
 
AL: For starters, I think that a safe projection is that the cable business or the major cable operators will be squarely in the wireless business. Secondly, cable modems will be more deeply penetrated than they are now. It will probably go up to about 80-85% in the next five years and become pretty much a necessity, more like a utility service. Lastly, the business of targeted advertising will finally become a reality. 
 
The entire conversation with Angelina Li is available for viewing here.
 
(Interview was conducted by Charlene Weisler, chair of the CTAM Research Committee and research strategist. Additional interviews are archived on her blog at www.WeislerMedia.com, and she can be reached at WeislerMedia@yahoo.com)
 
 

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