The cable-TV industry is a complicated beast.
Technology (4K, RDK, EBIF) regulation (retrans, STELA, privacy) and programming (C3, VOD, DAI) are constantly evolving at a pace I find mind-numbing.
Little wonder, then, that there was so much head-scratching when Comcast unveiled its interconnection deal with Netflix last week. In the rush that followed to give instant analysis, many misconceptions about the deal floated around the industry, given that its timing was so close to Comcast’s proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable.
But not everything is always as it appears to be. In this week’s cover story, technology editor Jeff Baumgartner rises above the misreadings and cuts through the jargon. He explains why the deal is a harbinger of things to come, but perhaps not for the reasons that some think. (It’s not about net neutrality — it’s more like cutting out the middleman.) And our “Translation Please” writer, Leslie Ellis, in her disarmingly witty way, untangles another cable-tech conundrum in her column this week.
Clear, concise explanations can be a precious and rare thing in cable these days. Carlsen Resources CEO Ann Carlsen, who places many in the cable C-suites, told me recently that the ability to explain complicated topics in a simple fashion for a broader audience is one of the most critical job skills in the TV industry. Most people don’t pay attention to the details, so it’s hard to explain complex topics. In a business awash in byzantine terms and indecipherable acronyms, we have a huge need for simpler terminology — and explanations.
It’s a skill that can help journalists, for sure, but now marketers, advertisers, programmers and operators need it more than ever before.