D.C. Re-‘Turn’: Huckabee, O’Malley Help Welcome Back AMC Spy Series

Washington — Former presidential candidates Mike Huckabee, a Republican and former Arkansas governor, and Martin O’Malley, a Democrat and former Maryland governor, made what was billed as their first post-campaign joint appearance here. But it was not to endorse a candidate.

AMC had turned to D.C. to host its previous two season kick-off events, one at the National Archives and one in the International Spy Museum.

The former candidates were in the capital on April 13 to help unveil “key art” — the image that will be used on billboards, promotional materials and trade ads — for the upcoming third season of AMC’s Turn: Washington’s Spies, the drama about the regular folks enlisted by an eventual successful presidential candidate, Gen. George Washington, to help win the Revolutionary War.

The new art (below) is a nod to today’s divided Washington.

George Washington, was hand for the unveiling, in the form of actor Ian Kahn, who plays the general on the series, as were series executive producers Craig Silverstein and Barry Josephson. The event was held at Kogan Plaza on the campus of, where else, George Washington University.

The new season of Turn debuts on Monday, April 25 (only 241 years and one week since Paul Revere’s ride).

Advice to Pay TV Providers: Embrace OTT as an Ally

Orlando, Fla. — As over-the-top digital services continue to proliferate, multichannel TV providers have an opportunity to embrace that disruption and cash in on consumers’ appetite for new and repackaged content, panelists and speakers at a vendor-sponsored industry conference here said last week.

Lines of business in this arena continue to blur, and companies that exploit that phenomenon will be in the best position to keep existing customers and add new ones, they said at software vendor Amdocs’s Experience Now conference.

When it comes to OTT, service providers were encouraged to work with those companies rather than consider them competitors and some of that is already happening. Cases in point: Amazon Prime is selling Comcast’s Xfinity service and T-Mobile is selling monthly subscriptions to Amazon Prime and skipping data usage fees for customers accessing data and video via their smartphones.

Cable providers including Mediacom Communications, Suddenlink Communications, RCN, Cable One and others are integrating Netflix on their customers’ TiVo boxes. The opportunities for service providers and OTT services are limited only by the players’ imagination or aversion to change.

“I don’t like the term OTT,” said Anthony Goonetilleke, general manager and divisional president of Amdocs’s AT&T division. “I like the term digital experience disrupters.”

OTT is not easily defined as a single label anymore. Rather, several speakers said during the three-day conference, it’s everything that is delivered to a consumer in a digital format. Harnessing that explosion of data in a way that is easily digested will be essential to providing a positive customer experience.

For instance, right now consumers have several outlets to watch something like Law & Order, said Rick Howe, an industry consultant and editor of ITV Editor. But if a viewer wants to locate a specific show, it’s challenging to figure out where to find it. That’s where “super aggregators” come into play, and it’s an arena in which service providers can play a major role. It’s a way of keeping those consumers in the service provider’s fold without them coming and going, and maybe staying gone.

“Consumers will continue to subscribe to these services,” Simon Gallagher, a principal with SPG Global Pty Ltd who has also held executives positions at Netflix and Hulu, said. As service providers, “why not take advantage of that?”

— K.C. Neel

Boston’s an INTX Town, But Also A College Town, With May Graduations

In case you were wondering why hotel rooms seem so expensive and restaurant reservations so hard to get during the week of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association’s INTX convention in busy Boston, here’s why: The May 16-18 event is sandwiched between two big weekends of college commencement ceremonies, along with move-outs and other campus crowd-causing congestion. (It’s also being held during a busy week of cable-network upfronts in New York, but that’s another story.)

In the academia-rich Boston area, schools such as Babson College, Boston University and the New England College of Optometry are among the seven institutions with graduation ceremonies on the weekend before INTX.

Immediately after INTX wraps, it’s “Pomp and Circumstance” at Boston College, Brandeis, Simmons, Tufts, the New England Conservatory and a half-dozen more centers of higher education.

At least you won’t have to jostle too much with Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and UMass-Boston graduates. They get their expensive sheepskins a week or two later.

Of course, this could be happy hunting grounds for cable job recruiters — however many are able to be in attendance.

— Gary Arlen

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.