CTAM’s incoming CEO, John Lansing, said he’s optimistic that cable distributors and content providers will continue to work together with the common goal of enhancing their “incredibly sturdy and lucrative” business model.
To that end, experts from the marketing organization’s member companies are figuring out best practices for how authenticated “TV Everywhere” services are branded and experienced and how to get consumers to use them, the former Scripps Networks executive said.
The Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing last week said Lansing, who recently left Scripps, has been hired to replace longtime chief Char Beales, who is retiring at year’s end. He officially starts Nov. 4.
CTAM is pivoting toward what Beales termed a business-focused approach, a shift that included killing its annual Summit after 37 years in 2012. The research-focused Insights conference also was abandoned in favor of some shorter, regional gatherings.
CTAM also operates programs including the Cable Movers subscriber-acquisition business, an educational foundation and the twice-yearly TV critics’ tour. The organization includes some 86 cable distributors, programmers and service providers.
Lansing said tensions between programmers and distributors are real and predictable between suppliers and price-sensitive distributors.
“The reality is, having been through dozens of renewals over the last several years, the vast majority of the renewals between programmers and distributors ultimately go smoothly,” the former Scripps operating executive said.
Programmers and distributors both know they have a good thing going, and they should continue to make it better, he said: “I think you’d be hard-pressed to find many people in the cable industry that wouldn’t say that the cable model is the sturdiest and most potentially lucrative model there is. There’s nothing that I’ve seen on over the top that even comes close to matching cable.”
The biggest collective opportunity now is improving, expanding and making consumers aware of the online viewing enhancements that come with their cable subscriptions, Lansing said.
CTAM has quietly put together three working groups, with experts from member companies, to work on the user experience; the category name (which to now has loosely been “TV Everywhere”); and the consumer messaging, vice president of communications Anne Cowan said. The groups are to deliver recommendations to CTAM’s board by mid-December, she said.
“We’re moving very quickly and aggressively to be ready for these tentpole events that will drive awareness in 2014, particularly the sporting events,” Cowan said, referring to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia; the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in March; and the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. CTAM envisions a two-year campaign using social media and news coverage, then moving to contributed ads and possibly paid media, she said.
“When people experience TV Everywhere, they really are just enthralled by it,” Lansing said. “Our challenge is just unifying the industry around the product, the messaging around the product and raising awareness to take advantage of the positive attributes that consumers already are taking from it.”
CTAM’S ‘BRIGHT FUTURE’
On Monday, two days before Lansing’s appointment was released, he was one of about 100 people who attended a testimonial dinner for Beales in New York.
In remarks there, Beales, who signed on as CTAM chief in 1992, at a time when the organization was nearly bankrupt, said: “The reports of CTAM’s imminent demise are frequent. Probably about as frequent as the press writes about cable’s imminent demise.”
Neither prediction held true, she said.
“There are so many cases even today where there is more power from working together than any company can get on their own,” she said. “And because of that I believe there is a bright future for CTAM going forward.”
Incoming CTAM CEO John Lansing said he’ll make the marketing of “TV Everywhere” services an action item in 2014.