Dan O’Brien Goes to Gotuit

Gotuit Media Corp. has hired longtime cable executive Dan O’Brien as chairman and CEO with hopes of expanding sales of its video-on-demand navigation software.

A veteran of Time Warner Cable and former CEO of PrimeStar Inc. and High Speed Access Corp., O’Brien had been CEO at Brief Original Broadcasts, a startup cable network devoted to short-form content.

He co-founded BOB in mid-2002 with the intent of launching in 2003, but has yet to strike the combination of financing and distribution deals. Part of it has been the difficulty of launching any new independent, linear network on cable, he said, and part is the lack of a current economic model for VOD — something Gotuit hopes to address.

O’Brien will remain on the board of BOB, but is turning operations over to co-founder Olivier Katz and Andy Brilliant.

Gotuit president Mark Pascarella called O’Brien, with his operations and programming background, “the ideal person to help grow our business with our existing customers and create new opportunities as we look to extend our reach into new markets.”

Gotuit’s navigational platform — invented by company founder Jim Logan, a Boston-based entrepreneur who also developed touch-screen computer technology — combines segment metadata with VOD content, allowing digital subscribers to personalize their viewing experience.

The platform allows viewers to skip to key parts of a newscast, say, or sporting event. Current Gotuit services include news and sports, as well as music-video applications from Universal Music Group’s library. It hopes to work with established programmers and get integrated into interactive program guides.

“When you look at the VOD business, it is absolutely in the nascent stage,” O’Brien said. “There aren’t really any business models for VOD.”

O’Brien said Gotuit can help operators make VOD more usable. “We’re in a good position to participate in the growth of VOD and establish an economic VOD model. We have the ability to implement and introduce advertising into the VOD format and that ultimately is going to be very important.”

He said the priority for this year is to create a flexible solution path for operators and programmers. Operators are concerned about VOD navigation as more and more content is added to the platform. He wants to create an open structure with Gotuit, so operators can integrate the indexing application on all manner of devices, including VOD servers and digital video recorders.

“We want to provide authoring tools to the programmer,” he added. The goal is that every programmer will “want to have their VOD content Gotuit-ized because it makes it so much easier to use.” Time Warner Cable has tested Gotuit’s platform in Portland, Maine, and O’Brien said it is being tested in several other markets.

A Denver resident, O’Brien said he will commute to Gotuit’s headquarters in Andover, Mass.