Earlier this week, I caught up by phone with Will Richmond. As some of you may know, Will is a cable and technology industry veteran, having spent the first eight years of his career at Continental Cablevision, where he served as VP Business Development at the Pilot House corporate office. At Continental, he was bit by the Internet bug by being part of the company’s launch team for their high-speed data service, Highway1.
Lately Will has been running a very cool market intelligence and consulting firm named Broadband Directions. Since he focuses exclusively on broadband video, he has about as deep a knowledge as anyone out there of this fast-moving space. His firm’s market intelligence service, Broadband Video Focus, is subscribed to by many in the media and technology industries.
At last year’s National Show in Atlanta, Will moderated a terrific session featuring video executives from AOL, Google, MSN and Yahoo. This year, he’ll be back, moderating a session entitled “Video’s Online Adventure: New Ideas for a New Generation of Television.” The session features Doug Hurst, SVP, Scripps Networks; Joe Gillespie, EVP, CNET; Ian Blaine, CEO, thePlatform; Bob Leverone, VP Video, Dow Jones Online; and Karl Quist, President, TotalVid.
Will has posted some thoughts on the session at his blog, BroadbandVideo360.com. For anyone looking to understand the bigger picture of how broadband is creating new competition for the cable industry, this session looks to be a must to attend.
As a former “cable guy”, one of my main goals with these sessions is to continue helping the industry recognize that the world of video is changing dramatically. Cable executives have been remarkably adaptive to change over the years. But with broadband’s openness now allowing scores of new video providers and distributors into the market, many of cable’s fundamental operating assumptions are going to be severely tested.
For example, if the concept of the Long Tail (originally an article, and now a book, by Chris Anderson), is applied to the cable industry, it suggests that cable’s “walled-garden” content paradigm is going to be undermined by broadband’s infinite choice and personalization. I wrote an extensive piece about this way back in March, 2005 and I think it’s truer now than ever.
All of the panelists have a great vantage point to comment on the Long Tail’s impact on cable. Bob and Joe come from publishers (print and online respectively) that haven’t done a lot with video previously, but are now aggressively pursuing it. Karl has started a specialty video distribution business that is only possible due to broadband. Doug’s company is leveraging broadband to create many new broadband experiences. Finally Ian’s company is powering many broadband video initiatives from established and startups.
All in all, this group will bring an invaluable perspective to attendees trying to figure out how the video proliferation that broadband is causing will impact their corner of the cable business!