Skip to main content

Discovery’s Global Volunteer Effort: More Than Just a Day

On Friday, June 17, during the Discovery Comunications “Discover Your Impact Day,” Adria Alpert Romm visited four sites where employees in the Maryland area were volunteering their time to community organizations.

She started at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., where volunteers were cleaning habitats, and next went to a veterans’ home, where employees prepared a barbeque and cleaned World War IIera jets and tanks. “Then I went to a diaper bank,” she said, where Discovery folks helped package donated diapers that would later be delivered to needy families, and she visited an inner-city high school where employees helped to weed and prepare for planting a community garden.

“It’s always a great day for employees around the world,” Romm, the company’s chief human resources and global diversity officer, said of the seventh annual event, which draws about 4,200 employees into volunteer action.

Many end up doing a lot more with the organizations they get to know from their initial visit, and Discovery gives out grants of $3,000 to sites where an employee completes 30 hours of volunteer service. At the D.C.-area diaper bank, it was announced that a $9,000 grant had been awarded, which means three employees committed those 30 hours each. “It’s more than a day,” Romm observed.

The Mudville Two

It wasn’t exactly “Casey at the Bat,” but in in the preamble to their decision that Internet-service providers had essentially struck out with their arguments against the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet order, the two D.C. appeals court judges who made that call (the decision was 2-1 not to vacate the order) drew on baseball to describe the virtuous circle (diamond?) model of Internet access.

So, we recommend reading the following, a sort of “Tinker to Evers to Chance” relay of information from the edge to the user, and envisioning Joe Buck or Vin Scully or, more on point, Aaron Boone behind the mic on a warm late-spring evening.

“When an end user wishes to check last night’s baseball scores on (opens in new tab), his computer sends a signal to his broadband provider, which in turn transmits it across the backbone to ESPN’s broadband provider, which transmits the signal to ESPN’s computer. Having received the signal, ESPN’s computer breaks the scores into packets of information which travel back across ESPN’s broadband provider network to the backbone and then across the end user’s broadband provider network to the end user, who will then know that the Nats [that’s the Washington Nationals] won 5 to 3.”

Anyone for a half-smoke “all the way?”

— John Eggerton

Ganjapreneurs Go Over the Top On ‘The Marijuana Show’

It’s been called a Shark Tank for ganjapreneurs, but The Marijuana Show’s producers, Wendy Robbins and Karen Paull, think of their online reality program as more of a dolphin tank. Budding weed capitalists who come in seeking investments for, say, a car with a body made from cannabis or a seed-to-sale inventory system for marijuana dispensaries always get encouragement and help achieving their dreams.

Starting July 8, Robbins and Paull will see their own efforts pay off with broader over-the-top distribution of the show, on platforms including Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play and Xbox. The pair held auditions June 14 in New York for the show’s third season and told The Wire that going OTT worked for them. “In terms of the [traditional] network model, they pretty much wanted to control the creative and take [us] out,” Paull said. “We want to retain the brand, the marketing, and really the back end is where we make a lot of the money” via relationships with invested companies.

Feedback from meetings, via show developers, included recommendations to change the name, and “they wanted us to make it [dumber],” Robbins said. “You know, like we are goofy people … and it’s so opposite of what we’re trying to bring in, which is a financial, educated, medicinal show.”

Half-hour episodes from season 2 will be available on the new OTT platforms first, and the producers said they have pitched outlets including Hulu, DirecTV and Netflix as well.

To find out where auditions will be held this summer — including in Portland, Ore.; Seattle; and San Diego — and to see a sample of the program, go to

— Kent Gibbons

Stingray Has High Hopes For Festival 4K Channel

Stingray Digital Group is hoping pay TV providers’ desire to display their advanced technology chops will lead them to add a channel this fall that’s currently showing concerts, fireworks and other events in ultra-high-definition format.

“Many MSOs don’t have many customers [watching ultra HD] yet, but they want to show to their audience and their customers that they have advanced technology, and there’s not much content available,” Eric Boyko, CEO of the Canadian-based programmer, told The Wire after Stingray said it had purchased Festival 4K.

The channel is distributed on VOO in Belgium, Free in France and Vodafone in Spain. Stingray already offers “slow TV content” in UHD in the U.S. via the Ambiance channel, which has an overnight or early-morning block on DirecTV channel 104, it said.

DirecTV has three 4K channels, and Rogers and Vidéotron have 4K offerings in Canada, but distribution of 4K, or UHD, fare is developing slowly otherwise in the U.S. market, where forecasts say about 11 million homes will have UHD-capable TVs by the end of 2016. Boyko said he thinks “distributors will have no choice” but to add 4K channels as demand grows, though. And festival programming could help lead the way, he said, as it’s easier to capture in UHD than, say, baseball.

— Kent Gibbons

Kent has been a journalist, writer and editor at Multichannel News since 1994 and with Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He is a good point of contact for anything editorial at the publications and for Before joining Multichannel News he had been a newspaper reporter with publications including The Washington Times, The Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal and North County News.