Cable guy: Media savior

May 17, 2007

The adversarial relationship between cable companies and broadcasters is legend in the media industry.

But not for long. They need each other.

So says Time Warner Cable Chief Executive Glenn Britt, who got into a little of that history at the Reuters Technology, Media and Telecommunications Summit in New York on Wednesday.

“There’s been a hostility between the broadcast industry and the cable industry, and the reason for that is because broadcasters saw cable as competitive,” he said. “So there’s a whole set of emotions around that.”

Broadcasters, which own many of the cable networks born out of favorable regulatory environment, re-negotiate rates that cable operators pay the networks every couple of years.

Now they find that a host of competitors, notably the phone companies and Internet video, are bringing them together as they try to remind advertisers why they matter.

“I think it’s getting better now because I think there’s a growing recognition that the kinds of products I’m talking about can really help the program networks … The other piece is the advertising space … It’s no big secret that 30-second spot, bought per thousand eyeballs, is under attack. Advertisers feel it doesn’t really do what they need anymore. All the networks are frustrated by that.”

Enter the cable guys.

“Advertisers like the ability to target audiences really narrowly…they like to be able to measure and like to know that people are actually looking at their ads. They like some interactivity…we thought well, gee, we have the technology to bring those things to television … We’re starting to do these things.”


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