& cplSiteName &

Interview: Mark Gathen, Director of Video Strategy, Cox

Light Reading
LR Cable News Analysis
Light Reading
6/7/2010
50%
50%

Executives at Cox Communications Inc. are developing a TV Everywhere strategy for allowing subscribers to use its Cox.com portal to access content from dozens of cable networks, in addition to giving them tools to manage their DVRs or manage video-on-demand content.

Mark Gathen Indeed, cable companies have become fascinated with Internet portals as a way of providing consumers with a convenient way of managing their services and watching TV programs on their computers and, someday, maybe, portable Internet devices. Will it keep consumers from defecting to IPTV? Will it increase broadband sales? Will it matter at all?

Those questions are wide open. The one hallmark of many cable-provider TV Everywhere strategies so far seems to be that no one has figured it out yet.

But, hey, that's why we ask the questions, isn't it? And this interview between Light Reading Cable and Cox's director of video product strategy, Mark Gathen, is no different. In our chat, Gathen detailed his company's known plans for TV Everywhere. He also touches on a number of pressing cable issues and reveals that subscriber management is becoming a real differentiator for multi-platform providers like Cox.

Light Reading Cable: Does Cox have a strategy for TV Everywhere?

Mark Gathen: We absolutely do. We've been looking at the TV Everywhere product and solution -- the environment in general -- for over one year. We did participate with the NBCOlympics.com project, and we have developed the technology that enables us to authenticate and entitle subscribers to view [video] content if they subscribe to the linear [TV] counterpart.

Light Reading Cable: Have you looked at doing something broader, along the lines of Comcast Corp.'s Fancast Xfinity TV? (See Comcast to Expand 'Xfinity' to DSL Subs).

Mark Gathen: Of course, absolutely. Ultimately what we do want to do is move our product in the direction where customers will be able to have the opportunity to come to one place and have an aggregated experience with us so that they can one-stop shop -- they are able to be authenticated and entitled to view the content that is part of their linear package. But it would be bringing the content into the Cox.com environment -- so a one-stop destination.

Light Reading Cable: When might we see Cox offer broader package of dozens of networks?

Mark Gathen: We are at the very beginning of designing an approach for implementation. We have set our strategy, which is inclusive of a broader TV Everywhere–type solution, which encompasses the ability for customers to come to Cox.com to have that one stop, that destination, aggregated-content experience and also the ability for them to go to [the Website of a content provider], who will authenticate them there. Where those roads cross is unknown right now -- how we're able to get that content into the Cox.com environment. We're still working on implementation. And also as you can understand we have to work with our programming team and [Cox senior vice president of programming] Bob Wilson to get those rights as well. We're starting to talk to the networks and find out what they're doing. In putting all of those together it takes a little bit of time -- probably in the next month or two we'll have a better idea of timing for that.

Light Reading Cable: What vendors are you working with to authenticate subscribers?

Mark Gathen: We actually did that in-house. Cox is a little unique in that we have an identity management solution built and deployed and we have one billing system -- we use Convergys's ICOMS [software]. Because we have a one solution environment we're able to give every Cox subscriber an identity. Even if you're not a Cox High Speed Internet subscriber we'll give you a user name at Cox.com, so customers who are just video subscribers, they can come and get a user name which is tied to their billing system account and then become authenticated based on the level of subscription.

Light Reading Cable: What do you think of the idea of selling access to a dumb pipe, if Comcast were to take a brand like Xfinity national? Would you be open to the idea if it made sense to have one national brand of online cable programming? (See Boxee CEO: MSOs Should 'Go Over-the-Top'.)

Mark Gathen: I don't think so. Ultimately what we want to do is create a really valuable experience for our customer -- not just video. For example, customers do come to Cox to view broadband video that they're entitled to. But it's a more broad and inclusive experience for them. From that same page they'll be able to program their DVR [and] put that asset in their My Favorites folder in On Demand. It's not just providing video products. It's providing alternative access point for them -- an access path and enhancing it with something we're calling TV Tools, which enables them to have a better experience with the Cox brand and Cox product than they would if they went off and just watched the asset on a content provider's Website, or went off and watched it on another aggregator's Website where they cannot have that full experience. Ultimately that's our strategy -- to build an overall unique experience for them and provide more than just broadband video, but broadband video with TV Tools, and allow them to manage their content environment on the Cox.com Website.

Light Reading Cable: How about mobile video?

Mark Gathen: Our near-term objective is broadband access on the PC. The way we feel about it is as long as the content is authenticated and entitled, and protected with DRM [digital rights management software], the customer should be able to view that asset if the content provider and the MSO have a relationship to allow access to the content regardless of devices, whether it's a PC or mobile device.

Light Reading Cable: Do you expect to have a commercial TV Everywhere product deployed by the end of the year, or the end of the summer?

Mark Gathen: I think it's too early to tell. Content, design, build, implementation -- we're at the very starting line. It's almost like building a recipe. We're not quite sure what the end result will be yet, but we will in a month or so.

Light Reading Cable: Why aren't Cox and other operators being more aggressive with interactive advertising?

Mark Gathen: Cable has a lot of legacy set-tops that are deployed in customer homes. We have some legacy issues with older model set-tops, but we're also trying to get to a standard. Getting to that standard and getting EBIF out the door -- that's going to be happening very soon, and we're definitely going to be participating in that. I think once EBIF gets more leverage and gains more momentum, we'll see more interactive advertising opportunities. (See Cable Execs Defend Advanced Ad Efforts and Cable Breaks Out the ITV Drano .)

Light Reading Cable: What else are you working on?

Mark Gathen: We're deploying a new interactive program guide, called Trio, which is specifically built for HD television viewing -- a 16-by-9 guide. We'll be able to deploy a multi-room DVR with that guide. Also, as part of that package subscribers will have access to a 500-gig hard drive. That will be standard-- so more storage. That's pretty exciting for us, getting a new guide out the door that we built from scratch, and also providing the multi-room DVR solution and a larger hard drive. It's what customers are asking for. (See Cox Guides Tru2way Forward.)

— Steve Donohue, Special to Light Reading Cable

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
From The Founder
The independent evaluation of Nokia's key virtual network functions (VNFs) was a defining moment for the Finnish giant.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP’s Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it’s going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Custom TV
Cable & the Move to IPTV

5|31|16   |   04:44   |   (0) comments


Cable operators are looking at transitioning operations to IPTV, and some have already started. What issues do operators face? What opportunities will this bring to customers? These are just a few of the questions Alticast considers in this interview between Alan Breznick and Susan Crouse at INTX 2016.
LRTV Custom TV
Ooredoo at UBBS 2016

5|31|16   |   06:04   |   (0) comments


At UBBS 2016 in Dubai, Light Reading is joined by Ooredoo Qatar's Yann Courqueux for an in-depth interview on their success.
LRTV Custom TV
du's Success Infrastructure

5|31|16   |   11:48   |   (0) comments


At UBBS 2016 in Dubai, Light Reading is joined by du's Jasim Alawadi for an in-depth interview on deploying all types of technology.
LRTV Custom TV
What Is Customer Experience Management?

5|31|16   |   05:53   |   (0) comments


At UBBS 2016 in Dubai, Light Reading is joined by Huawei's Michael Spratt for an in-depth interview on customer experience management.
LRTV Custom TV
UBBS 2016 World Tour Highlight

5|31|16   |   02:43   |   (0) comments


At UBBS World Tour 2016 in Dubai, Light Reading takes an exclusive look at the latest Huawei technology and the future of broadband.
LRTV Interviews
Getting Somewhere With TV Everywhere

5|31|16   |   7:08   |   (0) comments


Comcast's Vito Forlenza describes the progress his company is making with TV Everywhere and the challenges that remain.
LRTV Custom TV
Cisco's Innovations in Cable

5|26|16   |   03:18   |   (0) comments


Marc Aldrich from Cisco discusses the latest in security, the evolution and momentum for CCAP and what the industry will be seeing next from Cisco.
LRTV Documentaries
Leading Lights 2016 Highlights

5|25|16   |   02:26   |   (1) comment


Some of the high points from this year's Leading Lights awards dinner at the Hotel Ella in Austin, Texas.
LRTV Documentaries
Light Reading Hall of Fame 2016

5|23|16   |   05:43   |   (0) comments


Find out who has been welcomed into Light Reading's Hall of Fame this year.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE TM Forum Highlights

5|23|16   |     |   (0) comments


ZTE showcased its new ICT solutions at TM Forum in Nice.
LRTV Interviews
Gamma's MD on the Emergence of UC2

5|20|16   |     |   (0) comments


Gamma Communications Managing Director David Macfarlane believes the unified communications (UC) market has reached a tipping point.
LRTV Custom TV
The Ultimate 5-Minute Guide to Digital Customer Engagement

5|20|16   |     |   (0) comments


In this short video, you will hear all about how Digital Customer Engagement is the key to meeting customer expectations, keeping them happy, and maximizing revenue. VP Product & Marketing at Pontis, Ofer Razon, breaks down for ...
Upcoming Live Events
September 13-14, 2016, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
December 6-8, 2016,
June 16-18, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
A new survey conducted by Heavy Reading and TM Forum shows that CSPs around the world see the move to digital operations as a necessary part of their overall virtualization strategies.
Hot Topics
Cisco's Patel Hails 'Microculture' Successes
Iain Morris, News Editor, 5/26/2016
Cable Is Eyeing Its Retail Options
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 5/25/2016
AT&T's Margaret Chiosi Retires
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 5/25/2016
West Coast Gets Its First 10-Gig City
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 5/26/2016
IEEE President-Elect Tackles the Digital Divide
Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 5/30/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
In this latest installment of the CEO Chat series, Craig Labovitz, co-founder and CEO of Deepfield, sits down with Light Reading's Steve Saunders in Light Reading's New York City office to discuss how Deepfield fits in with the big data trend and more.
Grant van Rooyen, president and CEO of Cologix, sits down with Steve Saunders, founder and CEO of Light Reading, in the vendor's New Jersey facility to offer an inside look at the company's success story and discuss the importance of security in the telecom industry.
Animals with Phones
Please Pass the Waterproof Phone Click Here
Walruses: more tech-savvy than you might think.
Live Digital Audio

Our world has evolved through innovation from the Industrial Revolution of the 1740s to the information age, and it is now entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution, driven by technology. Technology is driving a paradigm shift in the way digital solutions deliver a connected world, changing the way we live, communicate and provide solutions. It can have a powerful impact on how we tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems. In this radio show, Caroline Dowling, President of Communications Infrastructure & Enterprise Computing at Flex, will join Women in Comms Director Sarah Thomas to discuss the impact technology has on society and how it can be a game-changer across the globe; improving lives and creating a smarter world. Dowling, a Cork, Ireland, native and graduate of Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program, will also discuss her experience managing an international team focused on innovation in an age of high-speed change.