Last Week at the (Mis-named) Pay TV Conference

By Paul Maxwell Report Archives
Cover image for  article: Last Week at the (Mis-named) Pay TV Conference

The second edition of the mis-named Pay TV Conference in Westminster, CO, was an even bigger hit than last year's opening show in Denver.  Clearly Kevin Gray and the Fierce newsletter group division of Questex is onto something.  That something has been two resounding successes belying the tone of John Koblin's coverage in The New York Times of the annual network advertising Upfronts in his column titled "Running Scared: Network TV in the Streaming Age."  

Nobody in the suburban Denver high rise hotel was running scared.  Here's a random list of who was there: Liberty Global's Bob Greene, Kagan's Ian Olgeirson, Wolfe's Marci Ryvicker, Showtime COO Tom Christie (talking with Bridget Baker), Charter's Gary Chanman, AMC's Roy Cho, Discovery's Shawn Johnson, Amdoc's Graig Heiting, Curiosity Stream's Clint Stinchcomb, Bloomberg Media's Jean Ellen Cowgill, comScore's Susan Engleson, Comcast's Christian Petersen, Pluto's Jeff Schultz, IBM Watson Media's David Clevinger, Cheddar's Jon Steinerg, Hulu's Jim Denney, Philo's Andrew McCollum, Google's Jon Stewart, Parks Associates' Brett Sappington, Viacom's Samantha Cooper, Starry's Alex Mooulle-Berteaux, Verizon's Erin McPherson, T-Mobile's Lindsay Gardner, Arris' Gary Dorfner, Sling TV's Jimshade Chaudhari … and looking ahead (as if a lot of the above isn't) Gamesight's Adam Lieb, PlayStation Vue's Dwayne Benegield and YouTube Gaming's Alex Rubens.

There's a point to listing so many of the speakers … just look at the range of employers. All the way from pundits to every variety of video production and distribution … and video gaming.  Many of those speakers and attendees had a startling tendency to clam up every time I wandered by.  A couple of us did decide a couple of things, though: It's all about "aggregate, dis-aggregate, aggregate, dis-aggregate ad infinitum" and "the more things change, the more they stay the same."

But TV ain't just TV … and hasn't been for quite some time.  This place and the people there were leading the charge into more and more disruption of the classic broadcast and cable worlds, which raises such questions as: How do you watch TV?  On which screen? How many screens do you own and use?  It is past time to better break down who watches what, how the video gets to each user and the separation of the different kinds of digital ad spending between video and everything else on the 'net.

So what would a reasonable name for the event be?  At the show we heard, in no real order: The Streaming Show, The OTT Event, The New Bundle(s) Show, Tomorrow's TV Show, Video's New World Show and The Whatever the Sponsors Say Show.

Multichannel Newswire broke the news that the NTIA's survey confirms the growing shift to online viewing.  No surprise there.  The new TV universe is cable, telecom, satellite, over-the-air, over-the-top (meaning the internet) and not device specific.  It's all video, though.  Probably sometime in the not-too-distant future it'll include holograms.  Welcome to the holodeck!  You'll be able to place a bet at the "online window."

Random Notes

Retransmission "consent" … what a crock!  And now mini-Fox is going to concentrate on it.  On top of that, TVNewsCheck, in a column by Hank Price, reported, "The Earth shifted earlier this month.  For the first in television history, a major station group reported advertising as a secondary revenue stream.  Yes, it was first quarter in a non-political, non-Olympic year, and yes, the rest of the year will put advertising back on top, but the fact remains Nexstar reported more total revenue from retransmission fees in the first quarter of 2019 than from spot sales."  This is overdue for a closer look from Congress … assuming, of course, such a thing is even possible.

Kudos to the Cable Center's 2019 Hall of Fame sponsor Ride TV for getting U-Verse carriage.

Here comes "Dual Channel Wi-Fi" from CableLabs.  The idea is to add a downstream-only channel in order to leave the two-way channel open … another great CableLabs idea.

The Huawei mess is really complicated … and the 90-day delay won't help much.  Be nice to know how many Huawei components are in today's cable and telecom systems.

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