Cox Communications is the first MSO in the U.S. to offer TEDTalks, 18-minute lectures on “ideas worth spreading,” through its On Demand service for Advanced TV customers, the company announced Monday. Outside of a 5-part series currently airing on SCIENCE Channel, this is TED’s first foray in cable TV—and Cox is likely the first MSO of many to distribute the popular content.
According to Deron Triff, Director of Content Distribution for TED, the decision to go with Cox first was in part thanks to VP, Programming, Kathy Payne’s enthusiasm. She’s a “TEDster.” That is, an avid fan of the content and conferences. “The team at Cox really understood the power of TED for television,” he said, and Payne was confident the platform was the right fit for the organization’s big ideas.
Additionally, though not all talks are in HD, the fact that cable makes high-def video a priority was another reason to come on board, given that the production value of TEDTalks is very high. Think 6-9 cameras for each segment.
A spokesperson for Cox said the MSO is always looking for value-added content, and TED fit the bill. Having the content On Demand is an opportunity for customers who would prefer the medium of television to online platforms.
TED content has worked very well on Netflix, Triff said, a partnership that launched just 4 weeks ago. It’s also on the Roku player and ranks as one of the most popular channels. Come April 27, a TED Radio Hour will launch on NPR, and so far it’s tested extremely well.
So why did it take until now to get the TEDTalks to cable? Quite honestly, said Triff, the nonprofit had to be efficient with distribution deals, due to limited resources. “There’s so much demand for TED content, and we’re such a small organization—so we have to prioritize,” he explained. “It wasn’t that cable wasn’t important…we just wanted the fewest amount of distributors.” And what cable has to offer is efficiency, he explained. “We’re trying to pick the right partners and reach the widest audience,” and cable is “the best way to get in the living room.”
Will TED create original content for TV eventually? There’s a lot of interest from international broadcasters. Currently, TED offers original content in Asia and Europe. On whether the organization will develop original content for TV stateside, Triff wasn’t able to comment. But he assures that this year TEDTalks will be distributed by more MSOs. The nonprofit is currently in talks with “all the ones you’d expect” and will announce more On Demand partnerships this year. “We’re trying to make TED more accessible, across all kinds of demos.”