As cable pioneer John Sie begins his final day as CEO of Starz Encore, he leaves the company he founded poised between the chrysalis and butterfly stages. While the 68-year-old has had a hand in nearly every significant cable development in the past 30 years, he feels much remains to be done, at Starz and in the industry at large. "I think I’m fortunate to have been [in cable] almost from the beginning," Sie recollects, ticking off a litany of developments he’s had a hand in since 1972, up to perhaps his most significant contribution, the concept of SVOD, which he unveiled in 1999. That idea is now a Starz staple, and a proven revenue stream for ops, as well as a reliable churn-buster. Still, the nature of the business demands cyclical transformations, Sie says. "In order for cable to come out smelling like a rose, the challenge in the next 5 years is to make itself future-proof," Sie says. "I call the process ‘electronic molting,’ an evolution from the traditional TV environment to an IP TV platform. When it reaches that stage, it will become future-proof, and there won’t be a legacy of capital cost." The 2-wk-old Starz! Ticket on Real Movies download service is an example of Sie’s molting theory in action. Beyond the platform, Sie’s concerned with cable’s diversity push. The industry’s not consulting the right road map, Sie says. Minorities would be better served by cable-funded scholarships and internships, rather than "the pomp and circumstance and self-congratulation with nothing behind it," as he refers to the industry’s standard diversity efforts. — While he’s not cleaning out his desk for good – Sie will remain chmn – his hours will be cut significantly so he can spend more time with wife Anna, their 5 children and 2 grandchildren. "I’ll be on the strategic side, working about 1 day every week," Sie says. "But you know, a day a week for me is dangerous." No debate on that from us.

The Daily


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