Media Money with Julia Boorstin

Television Cable Show's Buzz Words

Here at the National Cable Show in New Orleans there are a couple of big buzz words I'm hearing--whether I'm in the Panasonic or Google booths, or the NBC Universal booth where my coverage has been based.

First, Video-on-demand is huge. Yesterday there was a panel, on which Discovery CEO David Zaslav and Universal Television Networks President and COO Jeff Gaspin both spoke. There's no question we're moving to an increasingly on-demand world.

Consumers are demanding (no pun intended) to watch content on their schedule and it presents another opportunity for the networks to get their shows (and even ads) out there. One issue Gaspin brought up: the networks may not own the rights to VOD; while securing rights to steam content, they didn't necessarily also nail down that additional VOD revenue stream.

That means that moving forward, you can bet that networks will be sure to get the rights for ALL digital distribution, so no future distribution means fall through the cracks. Also VOD sets up the technology for the next key buzz term: Interactive advertising.

The thing about cable is that it already allows advertisers to reach a very niche audience. Another nice thing about the cable distribution system- technology like VOD lays the ground work for interactive advertising. It's a triple win for advertisers, cable operators and the networks if they can engage users with interactive ads the way the internet does. There's a new technology down the pipe called Tru2Way, but more on that in my next post.

And then there's HD. Sources here at the cable show are talking about how HD is no longer a key differentiator, it's a necessity. Satellite TV operator upgraded its high def offerings and cable operators, starting with Comcast met that raised bar with tons of cable offerings. It's costly to shoot in HD, but it sound like in this next season, more and more shows will be shot entirely in HD, instead of just being upgraded to HD after the fact.

Future of Cable

And there's the big issue people aren't talking about much, but that underlies all the business happening here: viewer fragmentation is great for business.

The stock market may be down, consumer spending may be tightening and ad spending on the broadcast networks may be flat or down, but niche networks aren't hurting at all, they're only gaining viewers with their narrow focus, and ad dollars.

Questions?  Comments?