Timelines and Questions Let’s all guess. Has the recession already started? What time of day on March 15, 2008 will we invade Iran? Will that have any effect on the elections? How many foreclosures represent cable subscriber homes? And then, how many outdated set-top boxes disappeared forever? Will advertising revenues for this political season help out? Or will it all be temporarily over in March ’08? Only to pick up again in September? Or will Beijing bail everybody out in August ’08? How’s the budgeting going when senior managers want growth and TV HH formation won’t happen? Ah, but I certainly don’t mean to indicate that I might be just a little bit pessimistic about the near term future. I wouldn’t want you to think that. Random Notes
- There in Spirit: Albeit not in person. This MAXFAX is dated Monday, written across the preceding week (usually by the Thursday afternoon before) … I was, of course, in Miami most of the week at the CableFAX Leaders’ Retreat where Jim Robbins’ name came up among conversations almost every few hours. So, I should be/should have been in Atlanta Saturday morning. Can’t/couldn’t. But have often been thinking about the waste, the loss and the simple sadness. So, what’s the best way to honor Jim’s contributions to the industry? Easy. Answer the phone. Make the customer come first. Really. No more lip service. That’d make him sit back, cross his legs, gesture, start to say something and then smile.
- Best Bets: Maybe I blew this one. Boston area cable op David Keefe wanted to back the Red Sox against the Colorado Rockies. I offered a feast of Rocky Mountain oysters vs a clambake. He declined that, but countered with a lobster fest vs a grilled side of buffalo with fixings and skiing. So, neither of us can lose no matter what!
- Let’s Speculate? Sure, after all, AT&T could buy EchoStar for only 10 times the telco’s latest quarterly earnings. That’s putting things in perspective. But will they? Or won’t they? Or will the dial-up renew its inherited DirecTV re-sale partnership deal? Or Mr. Charles Ergen’s deal? Or what? Who knows? But it is fun to speculate. My guess: everybody’s waiting for the DARS merger decision. If that flies (will it be re-branded SeriousXM?), the definition of relevant anti-trust marketplace shifts … so, again, who knows? Then the only relevant question is: Will Carl Vogel have to quit sharing rooms with Charlie in order to accommodate Dr. Malone?
- Thanks: This is an on-the-record thanks to Outdoor Channel (whoa, had to check that thing), HSN, ion (and the iPod), NBC Universal, Ovation, Retirement Living TV, The Weather Channel, AmericanLife, Rainbow (fore!) and other supporters for their kind help with our annual off-the-record confab (but, I’ve got video and you know who you are). Thanks, too, to Kyle McSlarrow, Josh Sapan and George Bodenheimer for their candid remarks and insights.
- Cable Get Ready! Webinar #1 … this Tues at 1 pm ET features Cox’s Dallas Clement, programming maven Cathy Rasenberger and marketing guru Lee Clayton Roper discussing smart bandwidth management in a competitive atmosphere. Details at Cable360.net. The continuing sniping among platform providers ballyhooing claims of more HD capacity than the other guy and "my hi-def is more hi-def than your hi-def" is just the tip of the growing competitive zero-sum game for subscriber loyalties. Everybody’s bandwidth is (sort of) finite … pending the next upgrade burst. What we do in the meantime is what counts.