The Cable Show decided to come right here to Los Angeles this year, mercilessly robbing me of a well-deserved week away from the ball and chain and our two little monsters. Given that, I feel like the world kind of owes me. Well, at least The Cable Show does. So, here are three things I want to see discussed at the show this week.
INNOVATION: Viewers need to get what they want how they want it, so the TV Everywhere- like initiatives are crucial. That is, as long as the milk isn't being given away for free. But if people are willing to pay, we have to make everything available when and where they want it. Money cannot be left on the table. Twice in the past week, the industry has left mine right there, like Julia Roberts at the Reg-Bev-Wil. Yes, that's right; I just quoted Pretty Woman. Dear God, please make sure my golfing buddies aren't reading this column.
One time was a random soccer game from England that no one would care about, which was on ESPN's broadband service ESPN3, to which I don't have access because of where I live. I would've happily dropped about 20 bucks on that game (seriously), but didn't have the opportunity.
The other time was related to something about which more than four people in this country actually care about. Our Executive Editor Melissa Grego, who has great taste in TV shows and fiancés but terrible taste in sports teams (Detroit teams? Really?), recently suggested I check out FX's Justified. While I'm guessing she just likes it for reasons I won't appreciate (read: Timothy Olyphant), many others also mentioned it.
One problem: The world doesn't yet converge at my television, which happens to be in front of my favorite place in the world, the beat-up couch with the big imprint of my arse permanently indented in the cushion that sits closest to the fridge. So, even if I had been willing to drop a buck or two to watch an episode, which I was, I couldn't with DirecTV and nothing else hooked up to my TV.
So, we have to find more innovation on the transactional side, but not just in content delivery. There must be faster and better inroads to advanced advertising platforms.
But there's also a ton of low-hanging fruit. A perfect example came the day before the big Floyd Mayweather- Shane Mosley fight that recently aired on HBO Pay Per View.
I was watching the last episode of HBO's awesome 24/7 series that led up to the fight. It came to a close by building to a wonderful crescendo of anticipation for the event. Seriously, you wanted the fight to start the next second. At that moment, had a box popped up on my screen and said "click here to buy the fight now," it would have been a no-brainer. That's when you have to grab the customer by the wallet.
And to make matters even worse, when I jumped on DirecTV's Website on fight night to place my order-after the show had started but before the main event-it told me I was too late to order it. Wow.
While I am all for advanced ad models and everything that comes with them, there are still some very basic things we as an industry can be doing to grow the business. Like get every dollar a customer is willing to give us.
COLLABORATION: To get anywhere as an industry, we're all going to have to play nicely together. And I'm not just talking about a potential CBS-CNN partnership, though I guess the possibility of a Time Warner-CBS connection could help explain 60 Minutes' embarrassingly fawning Conan O'Brien interview. Something has to.
I'm talking about rivals getting in bed together to drive things forward. Hey, if DirecTV and DISH Network are now teamed up on a new interactive ad platform, all bets should pretty much be off.
I've long half-joked that TV needs a commissioner- one person overseeing the interests of the whole industry. That won't ever happen, but from CIMM to Canoe, the only way for us to get to where we need to be as an industry, with new common metrics and currencies, is to let our guard down just a little and move in step.
CONFRONTATION: I miss the good old days of network executives trashing each other in public. It used to be a staple of broadcast upfront week, but they've all gone soft. So, it's time for the cable network execs to step up. You guys want the CPMs the networks get? Then start to act with a little less class.
Granted, there is no correlation there whatsoever, but help us out a little. Everyone likes a little executive-level conflict. The closest we have gotten lately was a little tug of war Joe Adalian did well to incite between the heads of G4 and Spike. In fact, things have gotten so boring in that regard that several bloggers who cover the media have taken to ripping each other to pass the time.
But I don't blame them. I blame you, the senior network execs. Deep down, no matter what your corporate parents are telling you to say (or not say), there is inherently no one more poorly behaved than a high-powered Hollywood exec. Now dammit, start acting like one. This week. In Los Angeles.
E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him on Twitter: @BCBenGrossman
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