Angry Satellites

Who would dare compete for the attention of hip techies with SXSW in Austin? Quite a few, actually, and none of them are hip.

There’s the Indiana Flower & Patio Show and the NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education annual conference in Philadelphia. There’s also the PITTCON Conference & Expo (laboratory science),  International Summit & Exhibition on Health Facility Planning, Design & Construction and one in Seattle: the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.  Wait, there’s one more: Satellite 2011.

That’s right: satcom has yet to come across as being “hip.” OK, so investors may want to stick with traditional, risk-minimizing returns from the major player. That good for now. What about the future? Who will be making the decisions whether to use satellite technology in the future?

Ed Horowitz was alluding to the coming change in the marketplace in his pre-conference luncheon speech yesterday…

There is an impending conflict between media distributors and media providers. New media is growing faster than traditional media. It is about carrying your content around with you. New media consumers want to do more than just consume available information. They want to create it. Five out of the 10 fastest growing websites have user-generated content. Very soon, 50 percent of the workforce will be Generation X and Generation Y. 2011 marks a new rubicon for our business. Traditional media connections are changing. The new model is an open model with a direct connection between the consumer and media.

The concept of prime time is gone. Prime time is all the time. You have Google, Apple, Netflix, etc. TVs are becoming Web browsers. The revolution is global. The convergence of the TV and the PC is happening. Lastly, this generation that has grown up with this empowerment. If you don’t serve them what they want, you die (AOL and MySpace). Satellite must be ready to serve customers on the move. It has to be at the network’s core. This will require the industry to team up with new players.

TV Everywhere. Who’s on it? TimeWarner’s CNN, according to a piece by Staci Kramer in

The launches are still months away but CNN Digital has a pair of announcements from SXSW tonight that mark significant advancements for the network’s online and mobile video offerings. In early summer, CNN plans to flip the switch on its version of Time (NYSE: TWX) Warner’s CEO Jeff Bewkes’ TV Everywhere, making it possible for subscribers of Comcast (NSDQ: CMCSA) Xfinity, Dish, Cox and Verizon FiOS to watch CNN live across platforms and devices. Other Turner Broadcasting networks, including TNT and TBS are likely to offer authenticated live streaming of linear channels at the same time.

CNN also will launch a new video player taking full advantage of the native HD being used for nearly all its footage now, the first major update for CNN’s online video experience in three years. KC Estenson, SVP and GM of, showed me the new player on multiple bank of screens during a practice session before I left Austin; the quality of the video being streamed over WiFi in 19:9 format to the large screen array doing double duty as a computer monitor was stunning. Equally important, the player is designed to work across platforms, including Google (NSDQ: GOOG) TV. Eventually Estenson, who calls the new player a “quantum leap,”  expects it be to be available through any internet-connected TV.

In addition to various technical improvements, the player features a playlist that moves with the user from device to device. Start watching on a computer, switch to an iPhone or iPad, pick it up later on a connected TV and the player will know where the user left off and what is in the queue. One hitch: at launch, it will only work with internet access. Eventually, CNN hopes to make offline viewing possible. Estenson is striving for the quality of Vimeo, the serendipity of YouTube, the experience of Hulu and the portability of Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX).

Meanwhile, back at satcom ranch, the most exciting news is SES signing with SpaceX for a Falcon-9 launch. That’s a good one, compared to other news surrounding Satellite 2011.

The SPPI Gala is going hip? Yeah, no more black-tie attire.  Let me make a bold prediction: nobody will dress like the partygoers at the Angry Birds event at SXSW…

How about on-site promotion? Have you ever seen anything resembling this at the satellite show? A Nokia N8 promotion in Austin. Why? Because they’re competing for relevancy and satcom should do likewise.

Tags: , , , ,