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Another View: Herman Laid the Groundwork

Mindy, we hardly knew ye.

Just as quickly as it seems the pay-per-view industrywelcomed Mindy Herman into its cozy fraternity, she's decided to leave. But Herman -- whotraded her In Demand hat for a spiffier E! Entertainment Network president's cap last week-- won't soon be forgotten.

Some industry observers questioned last year's hiring ofHerman as president and CEO of the struggling Viewer's Choice franchise. With little PPVand marketing experience -- Herman's background was more programming-based from her yearsat Fox -- a few critics were worried about what she would do with the PPV-distribution andmarketing service.

Yet in one year's time, Herman revitalized a network thathad seemingly been running in place. She spearheaded the In Demand branding effort thatnow appears in almost all of the network's affiliated systems and that has given theindustry an unprecedented unified identity.

She was at the forefront of putting PPV on the same playingfield as direct-broadcast satellite services, which, despite their smaller subscriberuniverse, had surpassed cable as the main purveyor of PPV programming.

Under Herman's leadership, the industry was able to wrestleseveral DBS-exclusive programming properties, such as the National Basketball Associationand National Hockey League out-of-market packages, while establishing cable-exclusive PPVevents, such as The Artist's New Year's Eve concert and BattleBots.

Her aggressive, take-no-prisoners style did ruffle somefeathers and cause some consternation among some studio and event distributors, but thegains achieved during Herman's tenure certainly outweighed any turf battles that may haveoccurred.

But just as the PPV locomotive begins to really pick upspeed, Comcast Corp. executives removed the industry's conductor to take over E!'s helm.The question for the industry is: Who will pick up the gauntlet Herman has laid down?

While In Demand has made incredible strides over a shortperiod of time, a lot still has to be accomplished if the network is to lead PPV into thenew digital-cable world.

With DBS still fighting cable for subscriber dollars, andwith new players such as the Internet and video-on-demand companies creeping up fast, InDemand will have to regroup quickly and continue its due diligence for the industry.

Herman designed the plan for the network's future. Now it'stime for In Demand to execute it successfully.

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.