Did The 'Entourage' Crew Really Put The Squeeze on Comcast and Time Warner?

This past week I "witnessed" the wildest story ever: how the "Entourage" crew stepped up to help progress Internet-delivered television. I know this story seems beyond comprehension, and I wouldn't believe it either if mega agent Ari Gold hadn't reached out and offered to do even more. But before I get to how he wants to help, you just have to hear how this all came to be. And before you say no way as I did, remember sometimes reality is stranger than fiction....

My buddy Billy Walsh is always telling me he's evangelizing my company to the Hollywood types, even though I tell him we're a technology company providing a video ad monetization solution and have nothing to do with agents, actors, writers and producers. And Hollywood doesn't care about us techies unless it means more dollars or free alcohol bought after hours by some nouveau riche dot-com guy. But Billy tells me he doesn't care, and that sooner or later Panache will get some juice out of his efforts.

This past weekend Billy and I ordered up a couple slices at our favorite pizza spot in Hermosa Beach when in walked Turtle, Drama and E. Billy, who happens to know these guys well, introduced me to "his crew" and Turtle blurted at me, "So it was for your pals that Vince risked his career." I had no idea what they were talking about.

Anyway, E went on to explain that Vince was on his way to a "Tonight" show taping, when he realized that he hadn't seen any of his own shows! Obviously Vince didn't want to be caught by the media not being able to promote, so the crew grabbed a laptop with a cell card to watch episodes during the car ride. Since HBO didn't stream "Entourage" episodes -- probably because of affiliate conflicts -- Vince had E call Ari on the phone and say they were turning around and probably wouldn't do "Tonight" because Entourage wasn't streamed for them on demand, when and where they wanted. So they had to go all the way back home through LA traffic (which according to Drama takes days with Turtle at the wheel).

Vince told Ari he wouldn't do more episodes until he could get his show made available, as Vince coined it, as "TV Everywhere."

We all know how Ari took that! After berating his assistant for not knowing the 24-hour direct lines to Roberts and Bewkes, Ari found these guys up in Sun Valley, sparked the jet and went pushing for Vince's streaming rights. Supposedly, and this is where it gets really crazy, Ari told the cable boys that if the show couldn't be streamed online -- and fast -- he would "call his real life brother Rahm Emanuel, get a cable czar put in place, and the only stream they'd ever see is the one where they worked as worm baiters on a fish farm."

Billy looked at these guys and exclaimed "No freakin' way!" I didn't know what to say as I didn't believe a word of it but then Vince walked in, looked me in the eye and told me I owed him one (and took my second slice!). I still had my doubts but I wasn't going to say a word to Vincent Chase. Then, last week I received the following email:

"Steve, Vince says he wants me to do more. Give me four things you want done in your industry and I'll make it happen. Broadband and linear guys will hug it out in the end. Ari Gold. PS Vince wants stock options."

So I've come up with three but I'm looking for your ideas for a couple more to get back to Ari with, to push on Roberts and Bewkes. Here's what I have so far:

1) Provide consumers with HDMI cables to connect their computers to their flat screens as part of an annual subscription commitment.

2) Enable both programmers and operators to sell and insert ad avails into their shows with content enhancements and engaging ad units that add value to viewers, rather than keeping old-fashioned pods. Meaning, enable the revenue value chain to profit and match the capabilities of the platform so we have richer, more meaningful experiences!

3) Develop network DVR technology so that we can bookmark where we're watching and return to the show/frame location even if we switch to another device or platform.

Let me know your thoughts, and I'll see about getting them into the mix.

8 comments about "Did The 'Entourage' Crew Really Put The Squeeze on Comcast and Time Warner?".
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  1. Vaughan Denny from vaughan denny, August 5, 2009 at 2:59 p.m.

    very interesting. without the content (talent/stars/draw) the cable carriers don't have a great deal do they? They are scared of losing control of the reason why people use them.

    maybe no4 should be - give users the ability to select the way in which they are advertised to or allow payment via subscription - cable companies should be able to do that part right?

  2. Jake Paltrow from smallbiz, August 5, 2009 at 3:02 p.m.

    This is one of most confusing articles published on Mediapost to date. Characters who are not real in a scenario that is not real portrayed as a wild but crazy true story? Is this a dream? Why not just write a straight forward article focused on what you want ComCast Time Warner to do? Also, no one will put #2 on their wishlist. That is just you pandering for what would be good for your company.

  3. Jim Dugan from PipPops LLC, August 5, 2009 at 3:03 p.m.

    We have a new patent pending mobile website with a working name of which is designed for advertisers to upload their own offers, e-coupons, click-call, and most important to your cause, video for up to 3-5 minute trailers or whatever, for people to go to on their mobile 24/7.

    The e-coupons can be coded (barcodes or otherwise), only advertised in a local area to an entire global campaign.

    It's instant and shows instant analytics to the advertiser.

    For the user, the barcode is simply presented at the point of purchase (usually at the business) for instant savings and loyalty points.

    This is system is free for consumers and is advertiser supported. There's nothing like it on the market with it's instant ability to be changed and monitored.

    There's no question as to how many offers are redeemed. It's exact.

    Users need only register the first time (providing excellent data and generic demographics for the advertisers) and then use the site for free.

    All of the local businesses that are advertising specials at one mobile site, just like having an entertainment type book on your mobile device. Always with you.

    Advertisers create and control any editing on their own campaigns. They can be very creative with their offers, changing them many times a day to have the consumers keep checking back for the updated real-time specials.

    The mobile site is complemented by a rich site on your laptop or computer at which is getting set up for a Calendar of Events (you could have the scheduled program on the calendar), a blog, social connections and more.

    As a complement to your ideas, we feel this would be a perfect fit.

  4. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, August 5, 2009 at 3:20 p.m.

    Egotistical garbage.

  5. Alex Czajkowski from eGaming 2.0 Ltd, August 5, 2009 at 3:53 p.m.

    Paula, Jake: thanks. I thought I was crazy....

    "I wouldn't believe it either if mega agent Ari Gold..." tipped me off, and I live in the middle of the Med FFS! Ari Gold = lightning mcqueen's agent....

    Why is this here? To "ironically" promote ad-insertion in internet video? Where's the "advertrorial" flag?

  6. Monica Bower from TERiX Computer Service, August 5, 2009 at 3:55 p.m.

    Micropayment model supporting the shows you actually watch online, and upvote-downvote power in the viewer's hands to eliminate ads you hate from your own stream. 'Cable' companies provide transparent 3rd party audit of what showed when to whom - or they cease to exist for lack of a useful role in the future of entertainment delivery.

  7. Richard L from LW, August 5, 2009 at 4:04 p.m.

    4. Cut Vince's paycheck by about 90% since we're busting up a pretty good existing model. Instead of being able to sell programming to a single, well financed buyer with millions of existing customers, we now have to track down individual consumers and convince them to shell out say $3/month. (Of course at those kind of rates they could never replace all their viewing time without spending $300/month...but don't tell them that!!)

    5. Tell the cable guys like Comcast to switch to usage based pricing and effectively jack up their broadband rates. Since they're going to be losing cable subs they're going to have to make it up somewhere else. Don't worry, they'll be able to justify skyrocketing broadband rates because this new delivery method is so much more bandwidth intensive than linear. Oh yeah and the Telcos will play ball since they are heavily invested in video already. You don't think Verizon wants to recoup that little Fios spend?

  8. Jocelyn Johnson from Gravitas Communications, August 6, 2009 at 10:20 a.m.

    Steve - I have to say, this one both caught my attention and threw me off. I too caught up on my missed episodes of Entourage this weekend, and by doing so sparked a few creative ideas for clients. But this may be over the top - clever, but strange. Regardless, you make a point about where consumer viewing habits are going. People want to watch premium content when and where they want. What is missing here is that even if a streaming version was not available to Vince, he would have whipped out his iPhone and downloaded the free podcast version from iTunes. As a benefit of doing so, he would not have to worry about signal strength of his phone impacting the stream quality.
    The time shifting and portability of downloaded media files provides greater flexibility for both the consumer and the advertiser. Now, as an avid fan of Entourage, I would not be so happy to have to watch ads inserted into a stream or download when the show has none when I watch it on TV. As this industry of digital media evolves, the golden rule has to be about creating the best consumer viewing experience. If you can make the viewers happy, the advertisers will find a way to capitalize on it. Then we can call in Ari.

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