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hen T . e m i t n o cti e l e d n u o r d a n a A d . i r e o l m i F t n e ns i ll th e a p a p d a i r h o f l f F it. u e n i k i l s n s e w p Crazy st o p h a ds ff h e u s t a s b y z a a d i r r c f Flo o again, s r e c u d pro e h t w o h ’s that


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8  COVER STORY The state of Florida has become well-known for its weird, wacky vibe. That’s why a growing number of shows are choosing the Sunshine State as a colorful backdrop. By Michael Malone 12 PROGRAMMING Fox Sports and Showtime have shifted dates on a pair of big pay-per-view boxing cards, moving them to Texas in a bid to get fans back into the stands. By R. Thomas Umstead


16 POLICY With an eye toward the future of video distribution, public-affairs network C-SPAN is dipping its toes into advertising with spots on its website, YouTube channel and podcast network. By John Eggerton


Niecy Nash as Desna Simms on TNT’s Florida-set series Claws.

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Cover: Turner Entertainment. This page: Turner Entertainment; Showtime; C-SPAN

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Vol. 41 No. 20 • October 19, 2020. Multichannel News (USPS 590-190) (ISSN 0276-8593) is published semimonthly, except July, with additional issues in January and September by Future US, Inc., 11 West 42nd Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10036-8002. Subscription prices: U.S. 1 year, $199. Canada 1 year, $249. Foreign 1 year, $299. Prepayment in U.S. funds only. Please send subscription orders to Multichannel News, P.O. Box 1337, Lowell, MA 01853-1337, (888) 266-5828. Outside the U.S., call (978) 667-0352. Please allow three to four weeks for your subscription to begin or for changes to become effective. Periodicals postage paid at New York, NY, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to Multichannel News, P.O. Box 1337, Lowell, MA 01853-1337. Publications Mail Agreement No. 40612608. Printed in U.S.A. © 2020 by Future US, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Multichannel News® is a registered trademark of Future US, Inc.




Reading the WarnerMedia Tea Leaves Restructuring spurs talk that more changes could be underway By Mike Farrell michael.farrell@futurenet.com @MikeFCable



ive years after its grand content experiment began, continued restructuring at AT&T’s WarnerMedia business has two top analysts that follow the stock speculating the telco is asking for a do-over. A report in The Wall Street Journal earlier this month citing people familiar with the company said that “thousands” of layoffs at WarnerMedia could be coming in the next several weeks, part of ongoing efforts to reduce costs at the programming unit by at least 20%. It was the second part of a restructuring that began in August that saw top executives like WarnerMedia Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt and chief content officer Kevin Reilly leave, as new WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar continued to put his imprint on the unit. In an Oct. 4 interview with the Journal, AT&T CEO John Stankey, who ran WarnerMedia just six months ago, hinted that even assets housed within its flagship HBO and Turner brands, gleaned through its 2018 $108.7 billion merger with Time Warner, could feel the executioner’s axe.

Sale Speculation

Stankey used Turner’s Cartoon Network as an example, telling the Journal that the network becomes less valuable for every hour consumers watch its programming on HBO Max instead of the linear channel. But he said he wasn’t ready to jettison Cartoon yet. Nevertheless, in a research report,

AT&T has said its HBO Max streaming service, launched in May, will have 50 million domestic customers by 2025. YEAR
























SOURCE: HBO Max and Bernstein estimates

MoffettNathanson principal and senior analyst Craig Moffett said that Stankey’s characterization sounded a lot like a “trial balloon of perhaps selling Cartoon Network.” Other streaming reorganizations have occurred throughout the industry, and The Walt Disney Co., which restructured its operations around Disney Plus earlier this month, is a prime example. But at AT&T, which has struggled with its media strategy nearly from the get-go, pressures to maintain its dividend, pare down debt and bolster its wireless business are forcing it to look for ways to raise quick cash. Possible asset sales are mounting up. AT&T is reportedly entertaining offers for its satellite-TV business, DirecTV, whose purchase in 2015 for $48.5 billion ($67 billion including assumed debt) kicked off the telco’s

bold entrance into the media business. According to the New York Post, offers for DirecTV are coming in the $15 billion to $20 billion range, about one-quarter what AT&T paid for it. Also on the block: AT&T’s Xandr interactive advertising unit, which was earlier expected to take advantage of the 170 million customer relationships throughout AT&T’s product portfolio; and Vrio, formerly DirecTV Latin America, which withdrew its IPO in 2018. Stankey told the Journal that the moves were part of a “wash-repeat cycle” that the company has used to fuel growth for decades, adding that AT&T’s balance sheet “has always been used as a strategic tool.” Moffett stressed that he has no direct knowledge of AT&T’s reasoning for the layoffs and divestitures. “But the pattern is clear: 1) AT&T is trying to sell almost anything that isn’t nailed down; 2) they are, by and large, getting a disappointing response to the assets being offered for sale; 3) they are therefore left to dramatically cut costs, even in businesses that are ‘core’ to their latest version of AT&T.”

Concerns Over Scale

Moffett isn’t alone in his thoughts. In a telecom black-book report issued Oct. 13, Bernstein media analyst Peter Supino said that HBO and Turner are “suddenly sub-scale and their audiences are under assault. With management instability and difficult industry trends, we think Warner Media is the next shoe to drop for AT&T.” Supino applauded AT&T management for running a solid telecom business, “but in today’s rapidly evolving, increasingly competitive video market, we think they are way outside its circle of competence.” ●



Stock rises in first trading day after SPAC deal


CURIOSITYSTREAM’S FIRST DAY as a public company had its ups and downs, with the stock fluctuating between $10.50 and $12.01 during the trading day, before closing at $11.20 each, a gain of about $1 per share. CuriosityStream agreed to merge with special purpose acquisition company Software Acquisition Group in August in a deal that valued the fact-based programmer at about $331 million. SAG was already trading on the NASDAQ under the symbol “SAQN,” peaking at $10.44 per share. The CuriosityStream deal closed on Oct. 12 and the stock Multichannel.com

The service also plans to expand began trading under its new symbol its programming library, (CURI) on Oct. 15. currently consisting of With about 13 more than 3,000 titles, million customers including over 900 in 175 countries, original shows. The CuriosityStream will company has said be the only pureit plans to grow its play publicly traded streaming library to factual content more than 11,000 company, and it has premium factual titles said it would use its within five years. new currency to fund John Hendricks The company continues growth initiatives. Those to be led by Discovery include increased marketing Channel founder John Hendricks, its efforts and possibly future M&A.

chairman and largest shareholder, and CEO Clint Stinchcomb. At its Oct.15 closing price, CuriosityStream has a market capitalization of about $425 million, according to the NASDAQ website. Share volume on its first day of trading was 450,528 shares. “Investors will have the unique opportunity to capitalize on a ‘pure-play’ streaming media service that is not burdened with legacy linear TV assets in cable and broadcasting,” Hendricks said in a statement. “With our public debut, CuriosityStream will continue to offer compelling direct-to-consumer offers and innovative distribution models that provide curious viewers around the world with content that informs, enchants and inspires.” — MF




Senior content producer Michael Malone’s look at the programming scene The Voice

Supermarket Sweep

By Michael Malone michael.malone@futurenet.com @BCMikeMalone

Grocery Gala on ABC

Supermarket Sweep: ABC/Eric McCandless; How To with John Wilson: HBO

Supermarket Sweep is back! The game show from the late ’90s/early 2000s is on ABC, and Leslie Jones hosts. Jones was a die-hard watcher as a kid, and reached out to Fremantle about bringing it back. “Leslie brings an unparalleled amount of energy to everything she does,” said executive producer Wes Kauble. “If there’s one thing Supermarket Sweep needs, it’s that bombastic personality in primetime.” Three teams of two battle it out using their groceryshopping skills. Fremantle built a store in an airplane hangar in Santa Monica. “The supermarket has grown up quite a bit in the last 20 years,” Kauble said. “It’s definitely a primetime supermarket now.” Jones feels contestants’ pain when they lose and their joy when they win. Contestants can come away


with $100,000, a far cry from the original show’s $5,000 jackpot. “You can watch people’s lives change in a matter of seconds,” said Kauble.

Offbeat Life Suggestions on HBO

How To with John Wilson premieres on HBO Oct. 23. A documentary filmmaker, Wilson films random New Yorkers while passing along life lessons, such as How to Make Small Talk. Wilson’s how-to videos on Vimeo caught the eye of Nathan Fielder of Nathan for You. Fielder got some meetings, and a show for Wilson. “I’m surprised HBO picked it up,” Wilson said. “It’s such a low budget, dangerous show.” Nathan for You, which saw Fielder help struggling businesses with often loony suggestions, lasted for four seasons on Comedy Central. Wilson called it a dream to have Fielder on board. “We’re very similar,” he said. “We both want the same things out of our work.” These are certainly polarized times, but Wilson said How To taught him to work past that to find what makes people tick. “The gray areas are always more interesting than the polar ends,” he said.

Kilcher Clan Back on Discovery

How To with John Wilson Multichannel.com

The Voice returns to NBC Monday. Gwen Stefani joins coaches Kelly Clarkson, John Legend and Blake Shelton on season 19. Carson Daly hosts. Also on Monday, Unsolved Mysteries is back on Netflix. UFOs, missing persons, ghosts — all are fair game in this rebooted docuseries as season two begins. The show initially ran on NBC, CBS, Spike TV and Lifetime. Wednesday, it’s Pandas: Born to be Wild on PBS. The 39th season of the Nature series features a glimpse at wild pandas doing their thing in the Qinling Mountains of China. Also on Wednesday,

Season 10 of Alaska: The Last Frontier rolls on Discovery Oct. 25. The Kilcher family is fighting its usual array of harsh elements, and a pandemic to boot. Just after production began in March, crews were evacuated. The homesteading family shot their own footage. It offers a unique perspective on a unique family. “By following them through their own lenses, viewers will experience the Kilchers’ resiliency, tenacity and their incredible work ethic in an up-close and personal way,” Gretchen Morning, executive producer, said. Why do viewers love watching the Kilchers? “For many of us, living on our own terms and defining our lives is something we long to do,” said Morning. “It’s somewhat a part of our American ethos. And so seeing the Kilchers do so both on a daily basis — and for three generations — is inspiring and motivating.” ●

Pandas: Born to be Wild comedy The Goldbergs returns to ABC. It is season eight, with two episodes starting things off. Wendi McLendon-Covey, Sean Giambrone, Troy Gentile and Hayley Orrantia are in the cast. One more Wednesday thing to watch: The CMA Awards on CMT, MTV, Logo, TV Land and other Viacom networks. Ashley McBryde, Dan + Shay and Kane Brown will perform.

The Goldbergs


Set a series in Florida, and viewers get that weird and wacky vibe right away By Michael Malone michael.malone@futurenet.com @BCMikeMalone

Turner Entertainment Networks

s the election approaches, all eyes shift to Florida to see what sort of weirdness the state comes up with as the nation decides on its president. But anyone who watches TV these days has seen plenty of weirdness out of Florida already. The state leads the nation in bizarre people and peculiar events, making it a logical place to set an offbeat series. Like Claws. The TNT dramedy depicts women working in a nail salon in Manatee County, Florida, that is a front for sketchy mobsters looking to launder cash. The salon’s clients, including a woman who sells deer meat out of her trunk, are unique to say the least. Claws creator Eliot Laurence said he always had Florida in mind for the setting. “There’s insanity everywhere, but there’s something about the Floridian version,” he said. Claws is set in Florida due to “my love of weirdness and my attraction to the state of Florida being the weirdest place,” he added. Is that a fair assessment of the Sunshine State? Most definitely, said Craig Pittman, author of Oh, Florida! How America’s Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country. “Oh my gosh, we’re the weirdest state by far,” said Pittman, who hosts the podcast Welcome to Florida. “More happens in Florida day by day, and the weird stuff just happens to be weirder.”


Wide Range of Sunny Settings

Shows that have trafficked in Florida’s weirdness include Claws, Showtime’s On Becoming a God in Central Florida, Pop TV’s Florida Girls and MTV’s unscripted Floribama Shore and Siesta Key. Shows have long been set in Florida, including, of course, Miami Vice, along with FX’s Nip/Tuck, the Multichannel.com

There’s insanity everywhere, but there’s something about the Floridian version. — Eliot Laurence, creator, TNT’s Claws


What sets Florida apart from other states and countries is that within our state, you can find just about any location type.

Florida Girls: Pop TV; Dexter: Showtime; Floribama Shore: MTV

— John Lux, executive director, Film Florida Ryan Murphy drama about plastic surgeons in Miami; USA Network’s Burn Notice, about a cast-off CIA agent solving crimes in Miami; A&E drama The Glades, about a detective in the Everglades; Netflix’s Bloodline, about a family in the Florida Keys with dark secrets; HBO’s Ballers, about a former NFL player managing current players; and Showtime’s Dexter, about a Miami forensics tech who kills the murderers who law enforcement could not catch. (Showtime just last week announced it is rebooting Dexter.) The state offers a wide variety of settings, including beaches, cities and rural areas. “What sets Florida apart from other states and countries is that within our state, you can find just about any location type,” said John Lux, executive director of trade association Film Florida. “With warm temperatures year round, countless number of diverse neighborhoods and locations, Florida has long been considered the perfect location for ‘Anywhere USA.’ ” Alas, the state does not offer an incentive program for producers to shoot in Florida. Lux said that ended in 2016. That means several shows based in Florida shoot elsewhere. Claws, for one, films in New Orleans, as did On Becoming a God in Central Florida. “Florida is just cost-prohibitive,” said Laurence, who said the production does set up in Florida to shoot for short spells each season. “We get a lot of great stuff in a week or two.” Some Florida residents believe viewers don’t see their true state when that happens. Eric Deggans, National Public Radio’s TV critic and a St. Petersburg resident, said there’s a unique tone to the water and the sand that may not come through on television. “Viewers are shown much less-impressive places and told, that’s Florida,” he said. “You rarely see TV shows and films that capture what is subtle and what is compelling about Florida.”

One and Done

A couple of well-received Florida rookies have, like a luckless Florida man, met an untimely demise. Pop

10 Multichannel.com

Shows like Pop TV’s Florida Girls (l.) and Showtime’s returning Dexter (starring Michael C. Hall, below) capitalize on Florida’s colorful reputation.

TV’s Florida Girls, a Laura Chinn comedy about four women in a trailer park trying to better their lives, was well-reviewed in season one, and Pop signed up for season two, only to cancel the show months later. On Becoming a God, about a woman, played by Kirsten Dunst, who works at a water park in an “Orlando-adjacent” locale and is making her way up a pyramid scheme, was set to shoot season two. Showtime said earlier this month that reuniting the cast and crew amidst the pandemic had become “untenable” and the show would not continue. The allure of Florida weirdness is hardly limited to scripted shows. MTV’s Floribama Shore, about pals Jeremiah, Codi, Kortni, Aimee and others partying, hooking up and fighting on the Gulf Coast, has had three seasons. So has MTV’s Siesta Key, about young adults figuring out friendships, relationships and careers in the islands off Sarasota. “Our show is about a group of friends who come together every year to leave the real world behind for a few weeks, get a house near the beach, and have some fun,” said Jackie French, executive producer of Floribama Shore, which has had two seasons in Panama City Beach and one in St. Pete Beach. “And for as long as I can remember, Florida has been about exactly that — escapism.”

Why So Weird?

What makes Florida so peculiar? Residents have an array of suggestions. One is the extraordinary population growth, which saw Florida

climb into third place, ahead of New York and behind California and Texas. The state population was just under 16 million in 2000, according to the Florida Legislature Office of Economic and Demographic Research. Today, it’s 21.5 million. “It’s people right up against each other who have nothing to do with each other,” Laurence said. Pittman said Florida comes in at No. 49 in the U.S. in terms of mental health spending. He called Florida “a frontier state” with a cowboy mentality. Add to the mix tons of tourists drawn to Walt Disney World and the beaches who are largely left alone by the police, and it may come as no surprise that people end up chasing each other with chainsaws. “Let the tourists do what they want and look the other way,” Pittman said of the ethos. “Everybody’s happy.” The state is home to its fair share of nudists and Wiccans and mobsters and drug dealers. “A lot about Florida is deeply weird and unconventional,” Deggans said. “A lot of people are drawn to the state for exactly that reason, to let their freak flag fly.” In 2013, The New Yorker cited a new genre of crime fiction, which it called “Florida glare,” with authors such as Carl Hiaasen spinning stories about the local depravity. “South Florida wackos — all heavily armed, all loquacious, all barely aware of one another’s existence — blunder through petty crime, discover themselves engaged in actual murder, and then move in unconscious unison toward the black comedy of a violent climax,” wrote Adam Gopnik. And who can forget the Florida Man meme, which saw users google Florida Man and their birthday to uncover yet


another oddball crime. (This reporter’s birthday offered up “Florida man charged with battery for giving girlfriend ‘Wet Willy.’ ”) Pittman said it all fits the state profile. “Every day, you open a paper here, and it’s, ‘Wow, a guy punched a swan,’ ” he said.

More Sober Shows

and a specific movement in time, so we were determined to shoot in as many real locations as we could.” Some producers said there might be more demand for Florida’s rich scenery amidst these stuck-at-home times. Daniel Blau Rogge, executive producer of Siesta Key, mentioned the “stunning visual aesthetic” offered up on the show. “The beautiful

Other shows that shine in the Sunshine State include (clockwise, from l.) MTV's Siesta Key, HBO’s long-running Ballers and On Becoming a God in Central Florida on Showtime.

scenery is exactly what viewers need right now, as we live through unprecedented times that limit our ability to travel,” he said.

Other States’ Starring Roles

Florida is hardly the only location that emerges as a character in a show that’s set there. NBC has Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D. and Chicago Med, which return Nov. 11 and offer a peek at life for first responders in the Windy City. ABC premieres Big Sky Nov. 17, with Montana playing a key role in that crime drama. “The visuals of this show and the vistas of the show and C.J. Box’s novels [Big Sky is adapted from a Box novel] are so landscape-dependent that they are going to be breathtaking to watch,” said cast member John Carroll Lynch. But few, if any, states offer the sun, fun and zany drama of Florida. The unexpected cancellation of Florida Girls and On Becoming a God on the cusp of their sophomore seasons was disheartening for fans of Florida-set shows, but there will surely be others. Would Claws creator Laurence set another show in the Sunshine State? Absolutely. “I’m endlessly fascinated by the place,” he said. “I have great affection for Florida.” ●


On Becoming a God in Central Florida: Showtime; Ballers: HBO

Not every show set in Florida celebrates the state’s weirdness. OWN’s David Makes Man is a heartfelt drama about a Black teen living in an undesirable project in Homestead, Florida, outside of Miami, and making his way each day to an elite magnet school. Season two starts production in Orlando next week. Line producer Wayne Morris said Florida provides “a unique tableau that really is a character in the show,” including the glittering city beyond David’s project, the public bus he takes to school and the overwhelming humidity that makes the show’s many sticky situations even stickier. “The location is uniquely Florida, and you can’t recreate that shooting somewhere else.” Astronaut drama The Right Stuff, a series based on the Tom Wolfe book of the same name, premiered on Disney Plus Oct. 9. Every exterior shot in the first season was shot in Florida, from Cape Canaveral to Cocoa Beach. “Florida plays a huge role in The Right Stuff — you could even say it’s a character,” executive producer Jennifer Davisson said. “It was very important to us to get the authenticity and spirit of Florida as a location in this particular time in history.” The producers of David Makes Man and The Right Stuff didn’t give much thought to shooting in a state with more attractive incentives. “It was really important to the creative team that we were as authentic as possible,” Davisson said. “We were telling the story of a specific place



PPV Fights Change Dates, States to Accommodate The Return of Fans Showtime, Fox Sports move big boxing matches to Texas REVIEW

By R. Thomas Umstead thomas.umstead@futurenet.com @rtumstead30


Spence: Frank Micelotta/Fox Sports; Santa Cruz: Showtime/AK Collective; The Undoing: HBO


wo pay-per-view boxing matches have changed dates and venues to allow for in-arena fan attendance. Showtime has moved its Oct. 24 Gervonta Davis-Leo Santa Cruz championship fight to Oct. 31. Instead of the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut, where Showtime held its Sept. 26 PPV fight in front of no fans, the fight will take place at the Alamodome in San Antonio, which will host in excess of 10,000 fans, said Stephen Espinoza, Showtime Networks president and general manager of sports and event programming. The fight will join Dallas Cowboys home games and the Los Angeles Dodgers-Atlanta Braves National League Championship series as events staged in Texas before in-person crowds. Espinoza expects 10,000 to 15,000 fans to attend the bout in an arena that can hold 75,000. “The promoters were interested in exploring whether the event could be staged with limited fans in attendance,” Espinoza said. “They eventually settled on San Antonio, since Texas has been holding sports events with limited crowds for several weeks. For combat sports in general and boxing in particular, the fan energy and the electricity of the crowd is part of the event, so it’s a great development that we’ll have some of that back in a safe way for this event.” Showtime isn’t the only network to rearrange its PPV fight-card schedule to accommodate a live audience. Fox Sports

12 Multichannel.com

(Premiering Oct. 25 at 10 p.m. on HBO)

Errol Spence Jr.’s fight against Danny Garcia moved to Arlington, Texas, to accomodate a live AT&T Stadium crowd, while the match between Gervonta Davis and Leo Santa Cruz (below) shifted to San Antonio.

will distribute the Errol Spence Jr.-Danny Garcia welterweight PPV fight on Dec. 5 from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, home of the Cowboys, according to ESPN. The fight was originally scheduled to take place Nov. 21 in Los Angeles without fans. Espinoza would not reveal the number of PPV buys it generated for its Sept. 26 event, which featured world champion brothers Jermall and Jermell Charlo in separate bouts, although The Atlantic reported that the card garnered 100,000 buys. Espinoza did say the event met expectations given the pandemic and the stiff competition from a UFC PPV event and a Denver Nuggets-Los Angeles Lakers NBA Western Conference Finals game. “We had modest expectations given the fact that the headliners were making their first appearance on PPV and the fact that we’re still in the midst of economic duress in the country,” Espinoza said. “Boxing has to rely on PPV to get the big fights done. Without big license fees from networks and live gate revenue, these big events couldn’t happen.”●

HBO WRAPS THE world of the rich and privileged around an irresistible whodunit crime drama in The Undoing. Big Little Lies producer David E. Kelley created The Undoing, based on Jean Hanff Korelitz’s novel You Should Have Known. Like his prior Emmywinning limited series, Kelley enlists Nicole Kidman to play a well-to-do woman who finds herself involved in a murder mystery. Kidman plays therapist Grace Fraser, who’s married to equally successful pediatric oncologist Jonathan Fraser (Hugh Grant). The couple and their young son, Henry (Noah Jupe), lived the life of luxury in New York, where Grace’s most pressing concerns outside of her practice is planning fundraising events for her son’s private school with other socialite mothers. Things get interesting when a new mother, Elena Alves (Matilda De Angelis) joins the planning club. Not blessed with the same financial and societal privilege as the other mothers, Elena takes a particular interest in Grace. A very engaging gym locker room meeting between the two gives Grace pause about Elena’s intentions, but she nevertheless decides to befriend her. Grace’s world then turns upside down when Elena is found brutally murdered days later. Upon learning of the crime, Grace is unable to reach her husband, who is supposed to be on a business trip, leading to worry on her part and speculation about his whereabouts from a pair of detectives (played by Edgar Ramirez and Michael Devine). The story shifts into a search for answers as to who killed Elena and why, with several surprising developments evolving from evidence and other facts brought out in a highly publicized court case that pits class, wealth and privilege against the truth. Kidman and Grant turn in excellent performances as a tortured couple, along with Donald Sutherland as Grace’s protective father. Fans of true-crime podcasts will revel in the unwinding of details of the crime, with several twists and turns sure to keep viewers tuned into all six episodes to see how it will ultimately be resolved. — RTU


Cable-Tec Expo 2020: NFV and DAA Business Finally Heats Up

and offer market-leading symmetric gigabit services today, without costly cable-modem or set-top-box replacement.” Harmonic said it added 11 new CableOS customer deployments in 2020, including DNA in Finland, Canada’s Access Communications and Seaside Communications and a leading operator in Asia. Including its multiyear, $175 million deal with Comcast to deploy CableOS in the United States, Harmonic now counts 38 customers for the virtualized solution. Going into Cable-Tec Expo in 2019, NFV and DAA business was also slow, with operators waiting to get clarity on their future network needs and holding off for the resolution of conflicting product development paths, such as Full Duplex DOCSIS versus low latency DOCSIS. The publishing by industry consortium CableLabs of the broad, umbrella-like DOCSIS 4.0 standard harmonized the road leading forward for HFC networks. But the COVID-19 pandemic, which diverted CTOs’ thoughts to the immediate, triage-like need for additional capacity within existing DOCSIS 3.0 and DOCSIS 3.1 networks, once again sidetracked the DAA discussion. Research company Dell’Oro Group, which tracks the cable access technology business, said vendor revenue was down 8% to $219 million in the second quarter. But that trend line could soon change.

Pandemic-delayed shift takes center stage By Daniel Frankel daniel.frankel@futurenet.com @dannyfrankel


he bandwidth demands of the COVID-19 pandemic pushed cable networks to the edge, and forced forward-looking plans to transition networks into modern paradigms including network function virtualization (NFV) and distributed access architecture (DAA) to the back burner. But as a flurry of announcements from the recently wrapped virtual iteration of the SCTE•ISBE Cable-Tec Expo conference revealed, business for the hybrid fiber-coax (HFC) network technologies of the future is finally starting to heat up. CommScope, for instance, which had previously announced remote PHY deployments with Danish operator Stofa, touted new DAA customer wins with Germany’s Tele Columbus AG and Hungary’s Vidanet. At the Expo, midsized cable operator Mediacom Communications presented at the “10G” DAA network trial, featuring core CommScope tech. Even bigger, the vendor announced that Comcast is actually deploying its E6000r High Density Remote PHY Shelf in its ongoing DAA rollout. Comcast has deployed the virtual converged cable access platform (vCAAP) in select portions of its national network, leveraging Harmonic’s CableOS software virtualization solution. And earlier this month, the top U.S. cable company announced a Florida trial involving a live network built on full virtualization and DAA using Remote PHY, delivering symmetrical 1.25 gigabits-per-second service to a Florida residence.

Ripple+ Makes Waves

SCTE/ISBE; Harmonic; CommScore

Harmonic also used the forum of Cable-Tec to tout ongoing involvement with Comcast’s Florida trial. The San Jose, California-based

14 Multichannel.com

Steady Virtual Shift

tech vendor said Comcast is the first operator to trial its Ripple+, a new component in CableOS that promises to deliver gigabit-level upstream speeds for operators. “Upstream bandwidth demand continues to intensify as more people work from home and participate in distance learning,” said Nimrod Ben-Natan, senior VP and general manager of cable access business at Harmonic. “Leveraging our latest CableOS cloud-native and distributed network edge platforms, the cable industry now has the tools to meet growing bandwidth demand

Harmonic senior VP and GM of cable access business Nimrod Ben-Natan (top) sees upstream bandwidth demand remaining on the rise. CommScope’s 6000r High Density Remote PHY Shelf (below) is getting deployed by Comcast.

“We continue to see a steady shift among major cable operators towards virtual CCAP and DAA deployments,” Jeff Heynen, senior research director at Dell’Oro Group, said. “The combination of virtualization and DAA give operators the ability to scale more easily and have far more flexibility in how they design their networks and deliver services in the future.” It’s hard to tell if the anecdotal appearance of increased DAA ordering will translate into Q3 and Q4 cable access equipment revenue growth. But Expo activity indicated the technology is clearly evolving fast. Vendors, including CommScope, are quickly stepping up the promotion of remote MACPHY products. Meanwhile, British Columbia-based tech company Vecima Networks and U.K.-based Technetix announced a partnership they say will create a more flexible, easy path for operators to deploy DAA. Essentially, Vecima remote PHY devices can now connect to Technetix’s DBx modules, which can act as either amplifiers or nodes. “Regional variations on form factor and technical features require a very flexible approach to avoid forklift upgrades,” Vecima CEO Sumit Kumar said. “Asking service providers to replace all of their non-DAA nodes with new DAA units isn’t always feasible. Open, mixed-technology networks are, and should be, the expected network architecture to promote the adoption of technology breakthroughs like ours, and make DAA a reality.” ●


C-SPAN Reworks Its Monetization Model Ramps up ads on online platforms, eyes other moneymakers By John Eggerton john.eggerton@futurenet.com @eggerton


-SPAN has started looking to the future of video distribution in earnest as cord-cutting has taken a big bite out of the affiliate fees that support its public-service platforms. Having recently celebrated its 40th anniversary, the cable public-affairs programmer that blankets Capitol Hill and beyond is looking at how to fund its nonprofit operations for the next 40. After watching per-subscriber affiliate fees fall faster than projected, C-SPAN has begun moving to an ad-supported — or at least ad-aided — model on its online platforms, which includes social media channels, podcasts and the website. Peter Kiley, VP of affiliate relations and communications (with an emphasis on the former), has been a major player in that effort, along with national accounts manager Rachel Katz, whose job it is to "optimize” internal revenue, C-SPAN said. C-SPAN isn’t looking to become a forprofit venture, just a nonprofit looking to better cover operational costs in a world where it is becoming harder to monetize traditional channels reliant only on dwindling license fees. It’s a tough time for a lot of programmers, but with affiliate fees as its main source of revenue — there are some licensing revenues — C-SPAN was particularly affected. Last December, C-SPAN quietly began putting ads on its YouTube page. “Nobody noticed,” Kiley said. “We didn’t hear a peep because people are so used to it.” And that page has been delivering eyeballs in recent weeks. During the Sept. 29 presidential debate, C-SPAN’s coverage was the top trending video in the world for a couple of days, C-SPAN said, with almost 1.3 million simultaneous live viewers for the stream. Next, it added podcast ads, both preroll and midroll.

Wading Into a New Stream?

C-SPAN is looking across the board at how to monetize its trusted, no-talking-heads take on such content without impacting the core mission of providing “long-form, unfiltered coverage of events.” The low-hanging fruits were the YouTube channel and podcasts. C-SPAN has an 16 Multichannel.com

outside agency to sell the podcast ads. It does not have a big podcast audience, but every little bit of monetization helps. C-SPAN’s most prominent step, which it took in August, was selling ads on the C-SPAN.org website — but no pop-ups, Kiley hastens to add, because he thinks it is important to be as unobtrusive on the user experience as possible. C-SPAN is also letting viewers opt out of the ads, all of which Kiley said will be skippable. It will still provide the content for those users with ad blocking enabled, but will be re-evaluating that over time depending on how many people are using the feature. “By rolling out limited advertising on our digital platforms, including our YouTube channel, on podcasts and on C-SPAN.org, we are beginning to diversify our revenue streams,” he said. There are currently no ads on C-SPAN’s traditional TV channels or CNN Radio, but nothing is off the table, Kiley said, pointing out that the organization is still in the early stages of ad exploration. “It is certainly something that we are talking about,” he said, including whether that would be traditional ads for cars or tennis shoes, or more of a sponsored programming model, as has long been the PBS approach. C-SPAN is using Google’s ad management platform to handle its new monetization strategy. Kiley said cable industry support remains strong, but that C-SPAN is facing an unpredictable video future. Unlike nonprofit

C-SPAN has added some ads to its website, YouTube clips and podcasts.

broadcast TV, which gets about 15% of its funding from the government, C-SPAN gets no such funding and isn’t looking for any. Given that more people are not taking the video portion of the cable bundle, C-SPAN is looking to get on the radar, and potentially into the affiliate-fee pockets, of the virtual multichannel video programming distributors. C-SPAN’s channels, 1, 2 and 3, are currently not carried on YouTube TV or Hulu Plus Live TV, and it has reached out to both. “We would like Google and [Hulu owner] Disney to support C-SPAN’s public service,” he said, acknowledging that they have regular conversations with the streaming platforms but neither so far has agreed to carry the channels. Google arguably could use the feel-good story of supporting the iconic public-affairs platform given that tech giants are a big target in Washington these days. Kiley said C-SPAN is still experimenting with ad size and placement, but there are prohibitions on political ads and advocacy campaigns. And while the Google ad platform does use algorithms and targets ads based on browser history, it also allows for C-SPAN to limit the ad categories, and C-SPAN has a lot of restrictions in place, Kiley said. There are dozens of categories that can be checked off on the Google ad management back end to exclude ad categories. “We’ve checked a lot of those,” Kiley said. For example, while a C-SPAN.org user will find ads for Volkswagens or siding, don’t look for ads for sexual aids. The most important exclusion, though, is overt political ads, Kiley said, though they might well be the most lucrative. Kiley said the ad effort is helping teach C-SPAN how to use new tools to develop new revenue, but it is not a replacement for the lost subscriber revenue. It probably never will be if the cord-cutting trend continues, which kind of blew C-SPAN’s five-year projections for subscriber losses out of the water. Given those accelerated fee losses, ads on the YouTube channel and podcasts and website are not an immediate solution, particularly given that C-SPAN is not doing direct sales or using sophisticated ad tech that others use, though it is “putting its toe in the water.”

AVOD Calling

C-SPAN currently has a minimal on-demand presence, but it is starting to look at ad supported video-on-demand (AVOD). Kiley said while it rarely does AVOD offerings, it has a huge library of about 260,000 hours of content to tap. He said cable-operator affiliates — the CEOs of Comcast, Cox Communications and Charter Communications all sit on the board — are providing strategic guidance on things like launching free, ad-supported streaming TV services (like Xumo or Philo) and virtual channels and other new ways of monetizing content, and that C-SPAN is looking to get in on that action. ●


Cable Analysts See Mixed Q3 Ahead High-speed internet growth is expected to continue in period, but could slow in later years By Mike Farrell michael.farrell@futurenet.com @MikeFCable


fter a second quarter that saw the top publicly traded cable companies report record broadband growth fueled mostly by stay-at-home orders during the pandemic, analysts are expecting a mixed third quarter, as video losses pick up and the torrid pace of high-speed data additions begins to slow. Pay TV shed about 1.8 million video customers in Q2, a record that was fueled by a combination of the pandemic, heavy satellite losses and the years-long shift toward streaming video. Broadband reached record highs in Q2 — Charter Communications alone added 850,000 high-speed internet customers in the period — again, driven by pandemicrelated issues. While most analysts don’t expect that pace to continue, they do see strong gains for most operators. Sanford Bernstein media analyst Peter Supino predicted Comcast, Charter Communications and Altice USA will add about 1.1 million high-speed data customers combined in the period — down from the 1.3 million added in Q2. At the same time, he expects their combined video subscriber losses to be about even with the prior period. Supino expected Comcast to add about 580,000 internet customers, up from the 340,000 it added to the rolls in Q2. Last month Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said he expected strong Q3 broadband gains for the company at the virtual Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference, saying that Comcast had already added more than 500,000 broadband customers with less than a month to go in the quarter.

Content Pressures at Comcast

At the same time, Comcast, which will report Q3 results on Oct. 29, has been under pressure from its programming business. In late September, activist investor Nelson Peltz’s Trian Fund Management said it had accumulated about $900 million worth of Comcast stock and has had “constructive discussions” with company leaders, but wouldn’t say what its intentions are. In the past, Peltz has pushed for board seats and asset divestitures in the companies he has taken a stake in, but Trian’s interest in 18 Multichannel.com

HIGH-SPEED SLOWDOWN Barclays Research analyst Kannan Venkateshwar predicts that broadband growth will slow over the next five years. (In millions, except for percentages). 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 CABLE HOMES PASSED


















46% 48% 50%















SOURCE: Company information, Barclays research estimates

Q3 SCORECARD Cable operators are expected to release Q3 results in the next few weeks. COMPANY



OCT. 29


OCT. 29


OCT. 30

SOURCE: Individual companies

Comcast is small (0.4% of outstanding shares) and the likelihood it could force meaningful change without a nod from Roberts (who controls 33% of the company vote) is low. Supino has been a big proponent of Comcast divesting its NBCUniversal and Sky programming units by spinning them off to shareholders. In a June 30 note to clients, he noted that Comcast stock “is demonstrably undervalued and that the pendulum of investor confidence now underappreciates Comcast's strategic intelligence and commitment to long-term value creation.” Comcast, to be a great stock instead of just a good one, needs to rethink its content strategy and structure, he added. “The NBCU television, film, and cable network businesses, which Comcast bought well and for good reasons in 2009, have more recently diluted shareholder returns through revenue shortfalls, expense growth, and deteriorating expectations,” he wrote. “Sky, for which Comcast paid a stunning premium in 2018, fell badly short of

expectations even before COVID-19 ravaged it.” Programmers in general have been battered by the pandemic and the move to streaming. Evercore ISI media analyst Vijay Jayant wrote in a research report last week that although ad spending trends bottomed out in Q2, he expected another 14% decline in Q3, driven by an uncertain upfront and falling volumes. The continued decline of pay TV subscribers is also expected to affect affiliate fees, which he predicted would continue to deteriorate, despite any lift caused by the return of sports. Jayant estimated that traditional pay TV distributors would lose about 2 million subscribers in the period, with virtual MVPDs like Sling TV, on a downward path over the past few quarters, would add about 1 million customers. While both analysts expected strong gains on the broadband side of the business, Barclays Research media analyst Kannan Venkateshwar warned that robust growth may not last for long. In a research note, Venkateshwar wrote that although new-home growth reached a record 2.28 million in Q2, that isn’t likely to be repeated, and broadband providers will have to count on projects to build out their footprint to drive high-speed data penetration. In addition, federal programs to boost high-speed internet availability in rural markets should also help drive the numbers. “However, we believe that despite these factors, the second derivative of cable unit growth may start slowing in the next two to three years,” Venkateshwar wrote. “More immediately, growth seen in 2020 may also be more difficult to replicate in 2021 given the unique circumstances as well as the segments driving this growth.”

Broadband to Cool a Little

Cable operators should add about 4.3 million broadband customers in 2020, Venkateshwar noted, up substantially from the 3.1 million added in 2019. But he expects the pace of those additions to slow down to 3.1 million in 2021 and to 2.4 million by 2025. Supino is more optimistic, adding that while Charter won’t have the same performance it had in Q2, Q3 should be a period of strong growth. He predicted Charter would add 450,000 broadband customers and lose about 200,000 video customers in Q3. At Altice USA, broadband additions should be at about 60,000 in Q3 (down slightly from the 70,000 added in Q2), according to Supino. But the analyst added that he sees upside potential in its more rural Suddenlink Communications unit, which should be positively impacted by the RDOF program and other government efforts to bridge the rural digital divide. “In the near term, we expect positive 3Q results to help rebuild trust with investors as we believe the underlying fundamentals bottomed in early 2020,” Supino wrote. “We believe that core residential revenue growth, sequential advertising recovery, a political tailwind and structural cost reductions all suggest compelling upside for 2H EBITDA.” ●


Olympic gold medal-winning figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi speaks on the WICT Leadership Conference panel “Profiles of Champions: Becoming a Corporate Athlete.” Lori Hall (l.), co-founder and head of creative at Pop’N Creative, and Michael Powell, president and CEO, NCTA, during the Oct. 5 WICT Leadership Conference Fireside Chat “Beyond the Hashtag: Moving from Grassroots to Grand Landscapes.”

Angela Duckworth (l.), University of Pennsylvania professor and author of Grit: The Power and Passion of Perserverance, talks about what makes a high achiever with Michelle Ray, Walter Kaitz Foundation executive director.

At the NAMIC Conference’s “New Normal” opening session (clockwise, l. to r.): Tonya Cornileus, VP, development, inclusion and wellness, ESPN; Salvador Mendoza, VP, diversity & inclusion, NBCUniversal; and Karen Gray, EVP, Human Resources, A+E Networks

Sheinelle Jones, host of the third hour of NBC’s Today, moderates the WICT Conference’s kickoff, “The Grand Opening” super session.

Stanford Graduate School of Business professor Deborah Gruenfeld speaks to WICT Leadership Conference viewers about “Acting with Power, Purpose and Resillience.”

20 Multichannel.com

SUBMISSIONS: Send your most recent press photos, with an ID, contact name and telephone number via email to: michael.demenchuk@futurenet.com. Electronic images should be at least 4 inches by 6 inches at 300 DPI.


On the NAMIC Conference’s “Marketing the Pivot” panel (clockwise, l. to r.): panelists Emeka Ofodile, VP, sports marketing, ESPN; Jackie Gagne, VP, multicultural marketing, WarnerMedia; and Tammy Henault, SVP, consumer marketing, ViacomCBS Digital; moderator Adriana Waterson, SVP, insights and strategy, Horowitz Research; and panelist Jessica Lane Alexander, co-founder, Pop’N Creative.

On the WICT/NAMIC joint “(Re)Creating Successful Employee Resource Groups” session (l. to r.): moderator Joiava Philpott, VP, regulatory affairs, Cox; and panelists Jennifer Caserta, chief transformation and people officer, AMC Networks; Lee Schroeder, EVP, government & community affairs and chief diversity officer, Altice USA; and Mini Timmaraju, executive director, diversity & inclusion, Comcast.

At a NAMIC Conference Town Hall on “Race & Relevancy in the Workplace”: host Shaun Robinson of TLC’s 90 Day Fiancé Tell All (l.) and panelists (clockwise from top l.): Bob Bakish, president/CEO, ViacomCBS; Detavio Samuels, co-head and chief operating officer, Revolt TV; Princell Hair, president/CEO, Black News Channel; and Mónica Gil, EVP, chief administrative and marketing officer, NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises.

Discussing the “Value of Mentoring” at the joint NAMIC/WICT L. Patrick Mellon Mentorship Session (l. to r.): James Anderson, SVP, enterprise inclusion, marketing and communications, WarnerMedia; Ed Lewis, co-founder, CEO and publisher, Essence Media; and Christy Haubegger, EVP, chief enterprise inclusion officer, WarnerMedia.

On the NAMIC Conference panel “Leadership: Making ‘Good Trouble’ to Power Systemic Change” (top row, l. to r.): Clement Cheng, SVP, human resources, Xfinity Consumer Services, Comcast Cable; Robin Denise Johnson, consultant/executive coach; Martin Davidson, University of Virginia Darden School of Business. Bottom row (l. to r.): Laura Morgan Roberts, Darden School of Business; and David Porter, University of California Berkeley Haas School of Business.




People Notable executives on the move BRIEFLY NOTED Other industry execs making moves













Dalila Wilson-Scott was promoted to president and chief diversity officer at Comcast Corp., responsible for overseeing diversity, equity and inclusion activities. She will continue to lead the Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation.

Ashley Deibert has joined customer experience platform Piano Software as chief marketing officer. She comes from Taplytics, where she had been the company’s senior VP of global marketing.

Jean-Paul (JP) Colaco has joined WarnerMedia as head of advertising sales. A former ad-sales executive at Hulu and Vessel, he comes to WarnerMedia from Apple, where he lead the Americas for the Apple Search advertising business. 22 Multichannel.com

Elaine Barden has beem tapped as VP, business development for Comcast’s West Division. She had been VP of business development and strategic initiatives for Comcast’s California Region for the past two years.

Steve Orlando was named CEO of Seaborn Networks, a developer-owner-operator of submarine fiber optic cable systems. He comes from from Zayo Group, where he served as the senior VP of fiber and network solutions.

WOW! Internet, Cable & Phone has promoted Gary Nilsen to senior VP, engineering. He will continue to guide development for the company’s network and engineering operations, focused on driving innovation for WOW!’s product and services offerings.

Andy Rooke was elevated to chief operating officer at Hallmark Channel parent Crown Media Family Networks. Rooke, who will continue as CFO, will assume responsibility for strategy and business development and lead all non-cable business units.

Trade group the Technology Association of Georgia has named Mike Toplisek to its board of directors. Toplisek is president of Atlanta-based internet service provider EarthLink.

Ryan Mitchell advanced to VP, network, product and service engineering at WOW! Internet, Cable & Phone. He had been senior director, network, product and service engineering, where he led his teams in technology operations.

Keysight Technologies has appointed Satish Dhanasekaran as chief operating officer. He had been head of the company’s Communications Solutions Group, addressing wireline and wireless providers, since 2017.

Carlos Zapata is joining Telemundo-owned station WNJU New York as a general assignment reporter, effective Nov. 9. He was an anchor and reporter at Telemundo station KXTX in Dallas-Fort Worth.

World Wrestling Entertainment has elected Erika Nardini to its board of directors. She is the CEO of Barstool Sports, where she helped launch more than 35 brands in sports, entertainment, female lifestyle and sports betting.

Michael Snow has joined Extreme Reach as director of product marketing for its AdBridge cloud platform, with a specific focus on creative asset management. … Liberty Media has named Lamborghini CEO Stefano Domenicali as president and CEO of Formula 1, effective in January 2021. Chase Carey will become the racing circuit’s nonexecutive chairman. … Jennifer Yohe has joined MediaKind in Frisco, Texas, as executive VP of business affairs. A former senior VP at Comcast Cable, she was president and chief business officer of Xtreme Concepts Racing. …Redline Communications Group has named Dr. Aimee Chan to its board of directors. She is the president and CEO of Norsat International. … Sinclair Broadcast Group has named Darrell Davis as VP of enterprise business transformation. He was VP and chief process improvement officer of enterprise process management at Xcelerate Solutions. … Kevin Rocks has joined South Reach Networks as executive VP of sales and marketing. He had been manager for the International Carrier Group at Looking Glass Networks.


Data provided by

Ad Meter Who’s spending what where

PROMO MOJO Our exclusive weekly ranking of the programming that networks are promoting most heavily (Oct. 5-11)



Brands ranked by the greatest increase in TV spend (Oct. 5-11)

Brands ranked by TV ad impressions (Oct. 5-11)




Boost Mobile

Spend Increase:

▲ 230%


Est. TV Spend: Spend Within Industry: Top Network:


NBC Universo


▲ 183%

TV Ad Impressions:

Est. TV Spend:


Est. TV Spend:


NBC Universo


Spend Increase:

Est. Media Value: $3,006,355

Estimated media value of in-network promos On the strength of 232.7 million TV ad impressions, a promo for ABC’s The Bachelorette is No. 1. Discovery and its siblings — including HGTV, Food Network and Animal Planet — promote a wide range of lifestyle programming in second place, while in third, Mickey Mouse helps hype the Mickey Mornings block on Disney Channel (and its sibling Disney Junior). Fox joins ABC as the only other broadcaster in the ranking, with a promo for The Masked Singer in fourth place, leaving Comedy Central to close out the chart with a promo for The Daily Show (aka The Daily Social Distancing Show) in fifth. Notably, the Disney spot has the highest iSpot Attention Index (116) in our ranking, meaning viewers were


on average highly likely to watch it all the way through (vs.


interrupting it by changing the channel, pulling up the guide, fast-forwarding or turning off the TV).


Est. TV Spend:

1. The Bachelorette, ABC TV Ad Impressions  Est. Media Value 

232,652,894 $3,006,355

2. Discovery family of networks, Discovery Inc.

TV Ad Impressions  Est. Media Value 

223,708,283 $1,358,650

3. Mickey Mornings, Disney Channel TV Ad Impressions  Est. Media Value 

218,822,970 $3,052,563

4. The Masked Singer, Fox TV Ad Impressions  Est. Media Value 

210,941,393 $3,017,629

5. The Daily Show, Comedy Central TV Ad Impressions  Est. Media Value 

204,630,177 $1,913,406


Top Network:


Top Show:


89.09 NFL Football


U.S. Bank

Toyota ▲ 163%


TV Ad Impressions:


Completion Rate:

Top Network:


Top Show:


Navy Federal Credit Union ▲ 150%


887M $22.2M

Est. TV Spend:

Spend Within Industry:

Est. TV Spend:

1.2B $26.3M

Est. TV Spend: Completion Rate:

Spend Increase:

MLB Baseball

TV Ad Impressions:


Est. TV Spend:


Progressive ▲ 169%

Spend Within Industry:

Spend Increase:


Completion Rate: Top Show:




Total TV ad impressions within all U.S. households, including national linear (live and time-shifted), VOD plus OTT and local

NFL Football

Spend Increase:

Top Network:



Completion Rate:

Liberty Mutual

Spend Within Industry:

TV Ad Impressions: 232,652,894


Est. TV Spend: Top Show:




The Bachelorette, ABC

TV Ad Impressions:

90.84 NFL Football


Domino's TV Ad Impressions:


Est. TV Spend:


Spend Within Industry:


Completion Rate:

Top Network:


Top Show:

92.30 NFL Football


TUBI SPEARHEADS SURGING AVOD USE, RESEARCHER SAYS SEVENTEEN PERCENT OF U.S. internet users viewed one or more free, ad-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) services in the past month, versis just 13% in the third quarter of 2019, according to a survey conducted by U.K. research firm Ampere Analysis. The research company says Tubi, recently purchased by Fox for $440 million, is leading the usage surge, based in large part on its extra-large content library, which features more than 29,000 movies and TV show episodes.

Top stories on multichannel.com, Oct. 7-14 1. AT&T Presses on with 'Fire Sale' DirecTV Auction (Report) 2. WarnerMedia Eyes Big Cost Cuts, Bigger Layoffs 3. FCC Finalizes RDOF-Eligible Areas 4. Cover Story: Charter's 'Giffen Good' 5. GOP Bill Would Force Federal Users to Share or Exit Spectrum To read these stories, go to multichannel.com.

For more stories like this, go to nexttv.com.




In fact, according to Ampere, Tubi’s library is only surpassed in the streaming world by Amazon Prime Video (see chart). Tubi said its monthly active users in August reached 33 million, a 65% year-over-year increase. Usage for other AVODs, including ViacomCBSowned Pluto TV and Amazon-owned IMDb TV, has also been surging. — Daniel Frankel

80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0

n azo Am ideo eV rim

i Tub
















A All

du Vu

yu lay lus Ha yP rz P e a n t S Dis




e e ckl tim Cra e Any tim ow Sh

SOURCE: Ampere Analysis

STICKIEST SHOWS Top 10 cable programs ranked by viewer engagement Ratings Rank

Telecast (Week Ending Oct. 4)


Stickiness Index*



Presidential Debate





Presidential Debate





Presidential Debate

Fox News Channel




Follow Your Heart

Hallmark Movies




Presidential Debate

Fox Business Network




90 Day Fiancé: Happily Ever After?





Monday Night Football





Country at Heart

Hallmark Channel




The Walking Dead





La Rosa de Guadalupe



Stickiness Rank

Follow Your Heart: Hallmark Movies; DirecTV: Wikimedia Commons


The Stickiness Index looks at viewer engagement based on several factors. A higher number indicates more of the audience is tuned in for the duration of the telecast. * TV Engagement ratings powered by Comscore’s TV Essentials. (Sorted by social media activity.)




Data provided by

STICKIEST SHOWS Top 10 broadcast programs ranked by viewer engagement


Ratings Rank

Telecast (Week Oct. 4)


Stickiness Index*



Presidential Debate





Todo Por Mi Hija





Presidential Debate





Imperio de Mentiras





Exatlón Estados Unidos





Presidential Debate





Médicos, línea de vida










Presidential Debate





Tu Cara Me suena



Stickiness Rank

The Stickiness Index looks at viewer engagement based on several factors. A higher number indicates more of the audience is tuned in for the duration of the telecast. * TV Engagement ratings powered by Comscore’s TV Essentials. (Sorted by social media activity.)

THE WEEK OF JULY 20 TV Time users track the shows they're watching on TV via the TV Time app. That data is then used to determine the most-binged shows of the week in the U.S.


Schitt's Creek

Share of binges: 5.09%


The Haunting of Bly Manor

Share of binges: 3.99%


Emily in Paris

Share of binges: 3.06%


The Boys

Share of binges: 1.60%


The 100

Share of binges: 1.23%



Share of binges: 1.17%

Top five stories on nexttv.com, Oct. 7-14


Criminal Minds

Share of binges: 1.16%

1. The Migration of Sports to OTT? Well, It's Complicated


The Good Place

Share of binges: 1.09%

2. AT&T Presses on with 'Fire Sale' DirecTV Auction (Report)


Grey's Anatomy

Share of binges: 0.98%

3. WarnerMedia Eyes Big Cost Cuts, Bigger Layoffs


Share of binges: 0.93%





2020 Presidential Debate: Bloomberg/Getty Image; LeBron James: ESPN Images








Networks reflected don't include every viewing platform available nor total viewing in share of binge

26 Multichannel.com

To receive "The Binge Report" and otherTV Time reports, visit https://www.whipmedia.com/subscribe/


4. Tubi Starts Streaming Live News Channels 5. Peacock, HBO Max Cut Into Netflix Usage in Q3 To read these stories, go to nexttv.com.


Ratings Favorite sports shows among American millennials TODAY.YOUGOV.COM


American Ninja Warrior



Monday Night Football on ESPN



The Super Bowl






NBA Basketball on ESPN






Sunday Night Football on NBC



NFL on Fox






MLB Baseball on ESPN


Methodology: Based on an average sample size between 650-1,952 US millennials who had a positive rating of these shows between October 2019 - October 2020




By Mark Dzuban, SCTE•ISBE @MarkDzuban

Expo Spotlights Cable’s Pandemic Pivot Virtual version of the industry’s largest tech event comes at a transformative time


he SCTE•ISBE Cable-Tec Expo Virtual Experience last week revealed an industry wholly focused on facing whatever serious challenge may come its way. From the moment Charter Communications’ holographic streaming demonstration broke new ground on the road to the 10G future, it was clear that that the industry was all-in for its support of what has become the largest cable event in the Americas. Expo 2020 sat at the intersection of two pivotal events that are transforming the way cable interacts with consumers and communities. It came during a time when the industry has risen to the challenge of managing incredible demands that have been placed on its networks by the coronavirus pandemic, and just as the earliest examples of the powerful new 10G platform are going live. The message of Expo was clear: this is an industry that’s embracing change.

Above, Charter demoed holographic streaming at the virtual Cable-Tec Expo.

Charter Communications

Swinging Into Action

Operations executives talked about how MSOs swung into action when lockdowns were announced. Education professionals explained the dynamics when companies adapt to face unprecedented crises or deploy new technologies. Workshop presenters highlighted how networks configurations are being impacted by the lessons of COVID and the power of 10G. CEOs shared the strategies that expanded broadband availability during the crisis as well as their visions of what’s to come. Charter chairman and CEO Tom Rutledge summed up what’s ahead: “How you structure organizations to deal with the future is, I think, the most interesting challenge.” Although the future is never as certain as we would like, Expo was a clear indicator of how the industry and SCTE•ISBE are working collaboratively to tackle whatever lies ahead. From the time it became clear that Expo could not happen on-site, the MSOs, associations and the SCTE Foundation were zealous in their support of a

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virtual event that would drive knowledge and thought leadership across a broader, worldwide audience. Their sponsorships made the full, live program free to all and will keep most sessions available on-demand into early January at https://cabletecexpo.onlineeventpro.freeman.com/. Their participation helped us build a virtual program that was every bit the equal of live Expos in past years. Needless to say, we’re grateful for and humbled by their support. What’s equally important is how this year’s Expo exemplified the changes that have accelerated how SCTE•ISBE’s applied science strengths are building value for the entire cable ecosystem. Over the past decade, we have addressed the needs of our members by proactively creating standards, operational practices, learning and development programs and more. This

Mark Dzuban is pres­ident and CEO of the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers • International Society of Broadband Experts.

includes creation of SCTE standards and operational practices that have contributed to more than $1.1 trillion in cable revenue over the past 25 years. Here’s what change looks like from where I sit: • Our SCTE Standards Explorers program that was underway even before the pandemic is laying the groundwork for new applications that can capitalize on the specific strengths of the industry’s 10G platform. Working groups are creating standards that will drive availability of telemedicine, aging in place, telehealth and other needs that surfaced during the COVID crisis. • Working with the operator professionals on our Learning & Development Committee as well as university partners, we’ve created and implemented a new Learning Management System (LMS). Based on the best industry and learning science available, it enables learners and their employers to track progress, reinforce knowledge and chart career paths as new needs and technologies are identified. • Encouraged by the success of 2020’s Virtual Experience, Cable-Tec Expo itself will undergo its own change in the year ahead. When we return to Atlanta next Oct. 11-14, we’ll blend live and online elements into a hybrid event. Moreover, we’ll be leveraging partnerships and collaborations with associations within and beyond the industry to secure Expo’s place as the premier global cable and technology event.

Raising the Bar

At Expo last week, LinkedIn’s Anthony LaPia discussed what happens when organizations such as cable are in the crosshairs of disruptive social forces and the advent of new technologies. He talked about the need to raise the bar by implementing learning methodologies that could incorporate the rapid responses, the new practices and the relevant procedures that could arm an industry for what’s ahead. It sounded as though he was challenging each one of us. But based on the industry’s performance during the COVID crisis, and on what I saw last week at Cable-Tec Expo, we’ve got what it takes to clear that bar. ●


system failures can cost $634 per physician per hour. Meanwhile, according to Dean Sittig, a professor with the School of Biomedical Informatics at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, a large hospital may lose as much as $1 million per hour when their Electronic Health Records (EHR) system is down — daunting numbers. The costs of running an ever-expanding and overburdened healthcare network can only be met with continuous maintenance and upgrades to the network infrastructure. Hospital IT professionals looking to increase their network performance, patient experience and overall profitability often underestimate the importance of their cabling system. By implementing best practices and adopting resilient technologies, IT professionals can help optimize their system and minimize network downtime.

By Kara Mullaley, Corning Optical Communications @KaraMullaley

We Need More Broadband, Stat! The emergence of telehealth creates bandwidth challenges for ops

Getty Images


elehealth technology has been adopted by nearly 50% of physicians’ offices, up from 18% in 2018. Large hospitals are trying to keep non-critical patients at home so as not to expose them to COVID-19 and small physicians are trying to keep their practices in business in the face of reduced revenues. The lack of broadband, however, in rural areas is prohibiting hospitals and clinics from servicing individuals that require medical attention. The need for telehealth, which is the distribution of health services and information digitally through telecommunication technologies, has opened the floodgates for new policies allowing reimbursements. With safer at home orders partially in place, one-on-one phone or video conference calls used by healthcare professionals for prescription renewals, follow-ups and minor urgent care are now a necessity.

than ever by focusing on customer fulfillment, minimizing downtime, and controlling costs to remain on track with planned build outs and other upgrades that may be on their roadmap.

Broadband Connectivity

Minimizing Downtime

The pressure the coronavirus pandemic is putting on cable providers is unprecedented. When you combine unforeseen challenges brought on by COVID-19 with hefty goals put in place years prior for 5G and 10G deployments, operators are facing more severe capacity and bandwidth issues than ever before. In addition, the need to address improvements in network resilience becomes more critical. In response to connectivity limitations, lawmakers are looking for $2 billion to support programs around digital technologies and broadband deployment, especially in rural areas. In addition, experts predict that virtual care is unlikely to go away, even after the current crisis. One of the primary challenges of deployment is profitability. Providers want to determine a profitable business model as well as a cost-effective service model to best meet the needs of their customers. Today, operators need to be more forward-thinking

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Downtime is an inconvenience to both consumers and providers and worse, it puts patients at risk. As a result of unplanned downtime, surgeries may be postponed, patients may be transported to other facilities for immediate care and switching over to paper records slows down service, especially when younger doctors are not accustomed to working with paper charts. According to one estimate, unplanned

Controlling Costs

Kara Mullaley is community broadband market development manager at Corning Optical Communications.

Telehealth is a chance to meet consumer needs and lifestyles by servicing them at home, in the office or at other convenient locations.

IT professionals can better manage their costs by assessing their environment, such as checking wired and wireless access and how they are transmitting data over their different networks, such as LAN, WiFi, cellular, telemetry, etc. Hospitals should also be investing in preventative technologies such as a backup data centers. When creating a complex, data-driven and collaborative ecosystem, IT staff must consider controlling the total cost of healthcare including hardware, public and private cloud infrastructures, and quality of service. This includes moving beyond legacy practices and mindsets and a willingness to embrace trends that will change the way infrastructure and operations teams run and the proficiencies they provide to their organization. Americans aged 74 and over represent 73 million people in the United States. Many of these people are not computer-savvy, or open to virtual healthcare services, and some struggle with mental and/or physical limitations. Making services easily accessible to caregivers and family members of this aging population is vital and could prevent a life or death situation. Telehealth is a chance to meet consumer needs and lifestyles by servicing them at home, in the office or at other convenient locations that minimize disruptions to their daily lives. In addition, those well under retirement age want access to upcoming telehealth benefits, such as lactation support, home sleep study guidance, remote patient monitoring and so much more. Telehealth is becoming the new normal. Adopting this new standard and technology is not about engaging the latest best practices in telemedicine, but rather about investing in the greater good of the community. Globally, government officials, physicians, patients, IT professionals, and other supporters in the community have been forced to face the unimaginable. With better tools in place and a critical network of industries, we can now all do our due diligence and put our best foot forward for a brighter, safer future. â—?


Donny O’Malley

Founder and CEO, Vet TV Ex-Marine finds a business in making his fellow veterans laugh


rowing up in Jackson Heights in Queens, New York, Donny O’Malley, founder of Vet TV, knew he wanted to be a Marine like his father. He also wanted to make people laugh. “I said one day, I’m going to create a production company that is just like [Adam Sandler’s] Happy Madison Productions and I’m going to staff it with my friends and my family and make people laugh as a job,” O’Malley recalled. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps, serving six years in Southeast Asia and Afghanistan. He retired for medical reasons and self-published a book, Embarrassing Confessions of a Marine Lieutenant. A video he made to market his book resonated with infantry men and women and went viral. He made more videos and got comments from veterans like, “No one’s telling military stories in a funny way. I would pay for this.” So he raised $300,000 with a Kickstarter campaign and started Vet TV in 2017, a VOD service now with 90,000 subscribers at $5 a month. O’Malley spoke to Multichannel News senior content producer Jon Lafayette.

Vet TV

Are you trying to get on traditional TV or cable? No, there are too many rules there that would affect what we create because what we create is very controversial. It’s very dark. It’s irreverent, racy and it accurately represents the military experience and the sense of humor that we use to get through

Former Marine Donny O’Malley looks to tickle the ex-military funny bone at Vet TV.

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the military experience. So we don’t need a distributor. We don’t need a cable network. We just need to keep making our community happy with the stuff that we create, making sure that it speaks to them, that it’s authentic and accurately represents their experiences and thoughts and emotions, and they’ll keep paying five dollars a month. Tell me about your new programming. Our most recent show is called Meanwhile in the Field. It’s real stories that happened while training. The first three episodes are focused on the 82nd Airborne Division, the second three are made for the Rakkasans, who are part of the 101st Airborne Division. We’re increasing the length per episode to 22 minutes so that we open up opportunities for distribution outside of the network if it could bring in more revenue without cannibalizing our subscription service. How do you want to grow Vet TV? We’re going to start a movie division, a podcast division, a books and comic book publishing division. And we’ll create a commercial division, but probably in a couple of years, just because we’ve developed so much talent that the talent can be directed to create anything. We hired Sherine Saad Anderson who did marketing at Disney and Universal and is now our head of marketing. We just brought in Levi Smock from Fine Brothers Entertainment. This business was built on people who had no experience doing any of these jobs. Now we’re bringing in people who have been doing this for 10-plus years

BONUS FIVE Favorite TV show? Eastbound & Down Place on your vacation bucket list? Probably Bali, maybe Bora Bora, but Bali has better surf. A surf trip in a beautiful tropical place, that’s what I need. What book is on your nightstand? The New Ministry of Truth: Combat Advisers in Afghanistan and America’s Great Betrayal by Maurice L. Naylon IV, a Marine officer. It wasn’t intended as a comedy but the way we fought the war in Afghanistan was so insanely stupid, pathetic and absurd. He wrote about it in a kind of funny way. Do you have a favorite app? I’m on Google Docs and Google Sheets all day. And Duet for our screenplays, Slack for communication and Zoom and Google Hangouts. And Surfline to check the surf. Have you had a recent memorable meal? I had a handful of our new hires for the company on my patio overlooking the lake here in San Diego. We talk about our experiences and our vision for the company.

and that’s going to get us to the next level. Are you generating enough cash to fund the company and grow? We’re fortunate to finally be in the black and not have to keep worrying about making payroll. I would love to take on a large investor — at least $5 million — and plus up our staff and drastically increase the amount of things that are produced by the company. The goal is to add massive value to the subscription. The investor wouldn’t be a traditional media company? Correct. We have [an investor] in mind who has already grown racy, controversial subscription platforms. That’s the number one thing, because as soon as I talk to someone and they tell me, what do you think about maybe toning the content down a bit and opening up to a broader audience, I know I’m not talking to that person because they don’t get it. ●


Profile for Future PLC

Multichannel News - October 19, 2020  

Multichannel News - October 19, 2020

Multichannel News - October 19, 2020  

Multichannel News - October 19, 2020