…aren’t just on the show floor at the National Show in Atlanta. The real changing face has been and is at the subscriber level: First, when the industry didn’t quite take seriously enough the advent of direct broadcast satellite. We lost a lot of customers because of that ostrich-like response to initial competition. But cable began to be the industry making the big changes when it rebuilt to offer digital tiers and broadband access in a big way… And quickly took the lead. A great leap forward…and ahead (for now). And in doing so changed the dynamics of the business from just being the distributor of linear video programming to becoming the pipe that beat the others. (Well, is beating the others; the contest has just begun.) Cable led the way in broadband. Cable was a follower in digital video recorders, though. But cable has been a follower as the open platform (delivered by cable) has been exploited. Innovators such as Sling Media, Akimbo, TotalVid, TiVo and hundreds of others are doing the exploiting. And that’s just a few getting started…broadband opens more doors than any of us ever dreamed about. Cable is fast moving forward with the Sprint Nextel development of the Smart-Play, as Comcast wants to call it. (I still like 4-play, but the Federal Confusion Commission has told me it’ll heavily fine any broadcaster allowing that double entendre to go over the air in an advertisement. Talk about indecency!) This time, cable has a chance to, with its partners, get into the extension device business as well. Can’t you see it? A handheld phone with cellular, VoIP, Bluetooth, a 3.5-inch 16×9 screen that works in and out of the home (or office) with multiple lines, software that controls the DVR, tuners, schedulers and "slings" itself, not to mention being compatible with most e-mail and office software systems. All tied to cable! That leads to the second changing face: Again at the subscriber level, but this time with a target drawn on SOHO…small-office/home-office opportunities. CTAM, as usual, is out front on this opportunity with a day and half (April 11-12)—in cooperation with NCTA—dedicated to business solution opportunities. (Look for some innovative targeting database stuff soon, too.) Naturally, there are some hurdles before much of this happens…not least the idea of "anywhere/anytime/anyway" from a copyright point of view. But it’s coming. And cable is the driver.

The Daily

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