OpenTV substantially beefed up its executive ranks,
naming three cable industry veterans as senior vice presidents and adding former
ICTV president Wes Hoffman as executive vice president and chief operating
The moves -- by OpenTV CEO James Ackerman and Peter Boylan, chairman of
OpenTV Corp. and president and chief executive officer of Liberty Broadband
Interactive Television Inc.-- appear to promise a much more active OpenTV under
the ownership of Liberty Media.
In addition to Hoffman, OpenTV named former ESPN, Cablevision Systems Corp.
and Gemstar TV Guide executive Thomas Hagopian as senior vice president and
general manager of programming/advertising.
Connie Pettit, a 20-year veteran of the cable advertising space with Times
Mirror Cable, CAB’s international arm and the Yes Network, was named senior vice
president of advertising.
Bill Harvey, who founded the interactive advertising firm Next Century Media
in the late 1990s, was named senior vice president and general manager for
OpenTV's research division. And Thomas Ewing was named vice president and chief
intellectual property officer.
Hoffman joins OpenTV from ICTV, which has struggled in the marketplace to
gain traction with cable operators.
But there is a common thread between both companies, as Liberty Media Corp.,
which owns OpenTV, also is a major investor in ICTV.
Replacing Hoffman at ICTV is former CableData president Mike McGrail, who was
named president and chief executive officer.
The moves belie the conventional wisdom that interactive TV is dead.
OpenTV recorded a net loss of $29 million in the first half of 2003, versus
$51 million in the year earlier period. Revenue for the first six months of 2003
of $31 million trailed the year earlier figure of $33 million.
Despite those financials, OpenTV supplies the software for interactive TV to
47 million set-tops worldwide, including Rupert Murdoch’s BSkyB Corp.
Murdoch, of course, is set to buy DirecTV, and that has cable operators
concerned about what interactive features he might launch to make DBS even more
competitive with cable.
DirecTV already has signed a deal with Canal Plus for interactive software.
Should that deal survive Murdoch’s ownership, cable operators might look to
OpenTV for interactive software expertise.
Or Murdoch might choose to stick with OpenTV for DirecTV, given his success
with OpenTV on BSky B. In either case, OpenTV would benefit.
The personnel changes also point to OpenTV’s emphasis on pitching Madison
Ave. to make interactive TV a viable business, since Pettit and Harvey are well
known in advertising circles. The moves also bring Hagopian back under Boylan’s
While Boylan called all five executives “accomplished” in a statement, he
added, “I am pleased to have an opportunity to work with Tom Hagopian again, and
think these appointments substantially round out key management positions that
we have had open as the result of completing four acquisitions in the last
Hagopian was instrumental in getting espn.com off the ground in the mid