What’s the world coming to when even TV sidekick legend Ed McMahon can get caught up in the mortgage meltdown/foreclosure crisis? Maybe Retirement Living TV can make him Florence Henderson’s new sidekick. Hey, we’re just brainstorming here…

Short Fuse
We all know that Cablevision’s music channel Fuse (formerly under the MSO’s Rainbow Network banner) has rebranded itself several times over the years and operated under various execs. Still it has never garnered anything close to the dominance of MTV and VH-1 (even though Fuse, unlike those Viacom nets, actually focuses on music… what a concept). This tale apparently on Wed caught the attention of The New York Times, which ran a lengthy article Wed about the network and its $15 million rebranding effort under Jim Dolan’s wife and Cablevision svp Kristin Dolan. Was the article fair? On balance, yes. It pointed out the truth: That Fuse simply has struggled to build a significant audience since Rainbow Media acquired and renamed it in 2003. But the paper pointed out that Kristin is on the ball with several new initiatives and suggested that Fuse could find enormous synergies with the MSG unit under which it now operates. Lots of opportunities for Fuse-sponsored concerts and exclusives… with big-name artists rather than the indie fare Fuse has emphasized in the past. While perhaps a blow to indie music, Cablevision’s main responsibility is to shareholders, and everyone in the biz knows that nets have to do whatever it takes to attract viewers and advertisers. Let’s see what the Cablevision clan can do with this latest effort.


The Console-inator
At CableFAX, we’ve been warning for years about the imminent takeover of gaming consoles, which will eventually become “self aware,” peg all cable set-tops as unworthy of existence and trigger a thermonuclear war that leaves a ragtag band of cable executives fighting for their lives. OK, maybe this isn’t going to turn out like “The Terminator.” But Sony’s Wed announcement that it will start accepting advertising in its Playstation 3 games should give ad-supported content providers plenty of pause. After all, the PS3 had a rough start but is now gaining on the XBox for living room dominance—all while doubling as a Web-enabled Blu Ray player that (mark our words) will soon be capable of placing those same real-time ads into Blu Ray movies as well as those PS3 titles. In fact, the PS3 will at some point stream those same movies directly to the box, along with those ads, making the physical Blu Ray disc unnecessary. Sure, some of this is years out in the future, but content providers need to understand that these consoles are becoming big competition for ad dollars. Ignore it at your own peril.

BoomTube?
Ever heard of BOOMj? Well, this “leading social network for Baby Boomers and Generation Jones” (no, we’re not making this up) struck a deal with online video network VidShadowm, which provide advertisers with options for pre-rolls, post rolls and overlay ads that will run during online video segments. Content includes fashion news with host Rocco G and workout tips from trainer John Spencer Ellis. Will boomers watch TV on their computers? MSOs and programmers may want to monitor BOOMj’s progress in selling ads for this stuff and, more importantly, for this demographic. It could indicate whether a market exists. Meanwhile, we suspect researchers at Retirement Living TV and American Life will be bookmarking the site to keep tabs on it. Or at least they should.

Upfronts
Lots of buzz out there about how the upfront season may turn out better than expected. Wachovia Capital Markets put out a rosy report this week, with early reports from some of the broadcast upfronts suggesting that the market is more robust than once thought. Of course, everyone always puts a positive spin on the upfronts, so we’re taking a wait-and-see attitude on this.

VOD Quest
For many, the Holy Grail of VOD is dynamic ad insertion. But it can be an expensive proposition for small and medium-sized operators. So SeaChange International’s Tues announcement of “entry-level solutions” for VOD ads has turned heads this week. Its new “VOD Now” and “Spot Now” products allow ops “to make a modest investment to kick off, but leave plenty of room for growth in content, channels and advanced services,” said SeaChange CSO Yvette Kanouff. Meanwhile, SeaChange has partnered with TVN Entertainment’s “VOD Complete” service, which touts 8,000 hours of content, marketing and reporting services. Four small ops are already on board: Hood Canal Communications in Union, Wash.; Nortex Communications in the Dallas/Ft. Worth DMA; Rainier Connect in Tacoma, Wash.; and Thames Valley Communications in Groton, Conn. We’ll see how many more SeaChange can sign up in the coming months.

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