That's Some Hot Content at MediaPost Summit

The MediaPost Video Insider Summit began this morning at Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, N.Y., with a bunch of smart speakers and a bunch of startled attendees who realized the night before that the rustic, historic and thoroughly fabulous Mohonk doesn’t provide TVs in the guest rooms. You can watch a fireplace, or, as most people did, you can fire up your laptop and do what you do—watch online video.

So there! MediaPost created, at least temporarily, a couple hundred high-powered media types who, en masse, have become cord-cutters! Alert the media. Wait. We are the media.

I’m getting used to living without TV. It’s not so rough.

But TV was much on the minds of the people at the conference in the first sessions. Jamie Elder, the British-born senior veep of the newly energized LIN Digital—an old-line TV broadcasting company that’s gotten religion-- compared TV to the usually dominant Manchester United soccer team, online video to the challenging Tottenham Hotspur team (“feisty” he called the video segment and, I guess, the team) and mobile video to Wigan Athletic, up and coming but kind of new. “They’re just teetering on the edge,” he said.  (All team info is from my cursory check of these things on Google.).

As the morning proceeded, a theme developed (beyond sports analogies). There are two rough camps: One bunch that believes living with GRPs as a measurement is Our Lot in Life and the other that thinks the same thing but is a little more combative about it. More about all of this, later on.

Got to go. There’s something good on the fireplace.


I’d like to deviate a bit from the online video biz to talk about Roger Ebert, the famed Chicago Sun-Times film critic, who died yesterday at the age of 70. I had the pleasure of working with Roger at the Sun-Times from 1983-94. I was the TV critic at the paper for part of that time and Roger had the office next door; for another part, I was the entertainment editor so I was Roger’s “boss” though that was only true in the theoretical diagram of how the newsroom “worked.”

By the time I got to the Sun-Times, Roger was already a household name in probably half the households in America, and all of them in Chicago. He was a “brand,” though no one used that to talk about human beings back then, and a multi-platform star before that term existed, either.

Even in the 80s, he was a regular on the ABC-owned station in Chicago; a columnist syndicated to 200 papers or so; a college instructor; and a TV show host. His old columns fit into books. He was live at the Oscars for ABC, while (and this is miraculous) filing simultaneously for the Sun-Times, one crisp paragraph after the other, on the very edge of a very mean deadline. In between going live on-air.

Ebert was able to do all of those things because of computer technology. To say he was an early adopter would be a considerable understatement. Before most of the world knew a laptop existed, Ebert had his at the screening room, ready to write. He often—I mean weekly, just about—filed eight or nine movie reviews.  He was, I’ve now read, an early Google investor. It was reported he had 800,000 followers on Twitter, and he tweeted constantly. His blog was a treat—a revelation, often-- to read.  

It is awful that he is gone, and sad that cancer wrecked him and ended his life early. Everything nice that has been said about Ebert, I can tell you, is true. I can’t add to it.  I mean this with no cruelty, but if there was a person who could manage to exist in pain and without physically speaking—as was the case in his last years--it was Roger Ebert, because he used the tools technology provided to make his life as full as was humanly possible. The world will miss him and so will I.

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