Television, meet music. And the blueprint for your business.

June 13th, 2016

With vast selections and all-you-can-consume models, new subscription music services like Google Play, Tidal and Apple Music are rocking a long-moribund category — and now represent the single largest revenue source for the U.S. music industry. Published in The Broadband Library.

Live from INTX: The Experiential Sports Spectacular

May 16th, 2016

Okay, it’s not exactly “live,” since it happened earlier today (May 16), but here’s the video of the Imagine Park panel I moderated at INTX 2016 in Boston. Good stuff here on what’s new and next in interactive sports and personalized “channels” for following teams, athletes, plays and more.

The Experimental Sports Spectacular from The Internet & Television Expo on Vimeo.

Robert Durst, HBO and the future of television

May 10th, 2016

HBO’s once again changing the way television works. Here’s how.

The Internet takes over channel 37

May 5th, 2016

A deep dive (but a good one!) into a little-known but emerging technology that uses television airwaves to transmit high-speed Internet signals. Written for the University of New Hampshire’s Broadband Center of Excellence.

TVWS TV in Field istock

Released from Exile

May 3rd, 2016

Exile on Main Street

I dropped the needle on the Rolling Stones’ 1972 masterpiece. And everything changed.

Read more about a musical awakening on Midcentury Modern at

Nameless horse, meet aging man

April 28th, 2016

If a guy who looks like somebody’s grandfather knows every word to the same song you do, does it mean you’re getting old? I say hell no. Because in life, rationalization is everything. And here’s the video that’s about to be stuck in your brain.

The video acronym that needs to die

April 27th, 2016

Dish Network Corp.’s breakthrough online video service addresses a marketplace sweet spot with such earnestness and resolve that it’s a shame to see it tarred with that sour and pejorative acronym of the new video era: OTT.

Short for “over the top,” this three-letter malcontent of a descriptor has always been a sketchy way to label genuinely innovative and interesting video business models that make use of the Internet. Dish’s millennials-targeted Sling TV is the latest, and the boldest, of the bunch. Read the rest of this entry »

How to make a TV commercial vanish

February 15th, 2016

Here’s the trick question of the day: How do you make a 30-second mid-roll commercial break within a cable VOD stream vanish?

The answer: stop watching the on-demand video stream before the mid-roll break ever happens. When that happens, the video stream gets interrupted and the session gets torn down. So do the advertising breaks that were supposed to be planted within the forthcoming content.

It happens all the time in the online video space, where completion rates for requested videos vary wildly. But in the advanced cable advertising environment, there’s an extra complication that has to do with the business relationships between TV networks and local cable companies. Read the rest of this entry »

Cable ad veteran Paul Woidke on the state of the biz

February 15th, 2016

Had a chance to catch up with the dean of cable advertising technology, Paul Woidke, last week. Came away as always with some fresh ideas about where the business is going.

Woidke is cable advertising’s version of Leonard Zelig, the Woody Allen fictional character who managed to be just about everywhere. In the 1990s, Woidke was one of the instrumental figures in building Adlink, the Los-Angeles multichannel video advertising interconnect now owned by Time Warner Cable. There, he helped instigate early applications of digital video advertising distribution technology plus two ahead-of-their time applications for customizing advertising content (known as AdTag and AdCopy). Later, he (along with other Adlinkers including Charlie Thurston and Hank Oster) joined Comcast’s advertising sales group as SVP of technology, where he helped to shape the seminal industry standard for advanced ad delivery known as SCTE-130. Woidke is now SVP of strategy for Nagra, whose Eclipse line of software traffics close to 100 million spots a month for cable advertising partners.

Here’s Woidke on the state of the cable ad business today, and where it’s going tomorrow. Read the rest of this entry »

Cable rep firm NCC: advancing the agenda

February 15th, 2016

Not so ago, the cable-owned spot rep firm NCC Media was all about linear. With affiliation deals covering most of the cable markets in the U.S., NCC’s world rotated around the tried, true and tested 30-second commercial.

Brokering a share of the local commercial inventory controlled by its affiliates, NCC has made a living for years aligning national advertisers and brands with the sometimes-peculiar geographies and processes of the local cable ad business. Through NCC, an automaker with a line of convertible cars, for instance, could heavy up a spot cable ad campaign in sunshine markets where buyers are more likely to cruise with the top down. The advertiser would choose the markets, supply the creative and write the check, and NCC would go about the workmanlike tasks of getting the right spot to run in the right geographies, on the right cable systems and on the right networks.

Today, that essential process is still the bread-and-butter business of New York-based NCC. Last year the company delivered (drum roll here) more than 34 million 30-second spots across roughly 2,900 cable systems, according to President and CEO Greg Schaefer (pictured). That’s more than 2.8 million spots per month, or 94,000 per day, flowing through the advertiser-to-NCC-to-local cable ecosystem. Read the rest of this entry »