Ryan’s Hope: Ad-Avail Revenue

Small cable operators that have had to pass up local ad avails are getting a new opportunity to tap into that revenue stream with a service created by former Charter Communications Inc. executive Dan Ryan.

Ryan -- who had been head of Charter’s Rocky Mountain region before breaking out on his own in 2001 -- has started a new venture called Blue Vista Media, a division of his RPM Group that will allow small cable operators to share the revenue from network ad avails.

Blue Vista already has a deal with USA Network to uplink the channel’s East Coast feed with preinserted national and regional ads running during local avails.

In the past, very small cable operators have not been able to take advantage of those local avails because the cost of buying equipment and maintaining an ad-sales work force was too prohibitive.

With Blue Vista, smaller operators will only have to invest about $600 for a receiver to download the channel from Galaxy 13, transponder 24, located at 127 degrees. The advertisers work with Blue Vista Media and with AdPro Networks, another RPM division, to generate advertising content, and the operators share the revenue the advertisers provide.

Ryan also hired former Comcast Media Center director of sales and new business Kim Gilmartin as president of Blue Vista. Gilmartin is well-known to small cable operators through her stint with the CMC, as well as its predecessor, Tele-Communications Inc.’s Headend in the Sky (HITS).

Ryan said Blue Vista will split the revenue from the avails 25-75, with 25% going to the small operator. He added that the service is manly targeted at systems with 1,000 subscribers or fewer per headend. There are about 1 million-1.5 million subscribers on systems in that range, he said.

Blue Vista has signed on Buford Media Group as its first customer. Buford -- which has about 50,000 subscribers in Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas and Texas -- will utilize the Blue Vista service on about five systems with some 10,000 total subscribers.

Ryan said Blue Vista is talking with other networks, and it is in discussions with NBC Universal Cable, USA’s parent, about making other networks available.

He added that he has received support from two small cable associations -- the National Cable Telecommunications Cooperative and the American Cable Association -- and he hopes to have a deal with the NCTC in the near future.

For more on Blue Vista, please see Mike Farrell’s story on page one of Monday’s issue of Multichannel News.