multichannel connect
careers
all access

News

‘Party Down’ Fans Prompt Starz To Put Episodes Online Pronto

8/23/2010 12:01 AM Eastern

Starz believes it has figured out
a way to turn a public-relations near-nightmare
into a revenue opportunity.

Starz caught some flak from TV-oriented
blogs last month for removing critically acclaimed
but low-rated comedy series Party
Down
off the Starz On Demand menu — as
well as from Internet video streaming service
Netflix — just days after the series’ June
30 cancellation.

TV site Clicker
speculated the
move was made
to “increase sales
of the DVD sets,”
to which Starz responded
that the
VOD disappearance
was unrelated
to the cancellation. The network
regularly cycles shows on and off the VOD
lineup.

Recognizing an opportunity to reach Party
Down
’s loyal digital fan base, the network is
offering the series’ first two seasons on an
electronic sell-through basis beginning this
week (Aug. 25) — just two months after the
last episode aired on Starz and one month
before the series’ second-season DVD release,
according to Starz Media senior vice
president of digital media, business development
and strategy Marc DeBevoise.

Starz will offer both seasons of the series
through such online video distributors as
Amazon, Xbox Live, Playstation 3, iTunes
and Sonic/CinemaNow.

“It’s the first time we’re doing something
this quick right after a series finale on a broader
platform,” DeBevoise said, adding that
drama series Spartacus will have a nearly fivemonth
lag time between its last Starz episode
and its online and DVD sales period.

“We think those platforms are the right audiences
for this program. It had limited audience
on our network but high buzz in the
critical community as well as with younger
viewers,” DeBevoise said.

Ham (Radio) Still
On SCTE’s Menu

How do you separate run-of-the-mill cable techies
from the über-geeks?

Two words: ham radio.

The Society of Cable Telecommunications
Engineers
is keeping the flame alive for the
1960s-era hobby. Earlier this year, the association
formed an informal amateur-radio club
— the brainchild of president and CEO Mark
Dzuban
, a longtime ham radio fan — and SCTE
is hosting the Ham Radio Operators Reception
as one of the last events to close out Cable-Tec
Expo 2010 in New Orleans on Friday, Oct. 22.

The retro reveling isn’t just reminiscing, according
to SCTE.

“There’s a little bit of celebrating history,
as any organization would do,” Steve Oksala,
SCTE’s vice president of standards, said. “But
one of the things we’re doing with the club
and other things is saying, ‘Hey, RF [radio
frequency] is important.’ Because if you understand
how it works, you’re more likely to be
able to get a handle on it.”

Club secretary Oksala (call sign: NI3P) had
been the only licensed ham radio operator on
SCTE’s staff until Dzuban (call sign: K4MHZ)
came on board in January 2009.

“If you really look at the history of the cable
industry, most of those guys started in broadcast,”
Oksala explained. “They naturally tended
to be electronics techs or engineers, and so
they tended to be involved in ham radio.”

Oksala was licensed as a ham radio operator
in 1959. “There weren’t many things for a techsavvy
person to do in those days,” he said.

C-SPAN BOSSES CUT CAKE

Celebrating C-SPAN now being in 100 million
TV homes, employees in Washington, D.C., and
Indiana (home to C-SPAN’s archives) gathered
to celebrate the milestone on Aug. 17.

The cable industry launched C-SPAN in 1979
in 3.5 million cable homes.

The party, attended by C-SPAN chairman and
CEO Brian Lamb, president Rob Kennedy and
co-president Susan Swain, featured four cakes
(chocolate, carrot and
two white icing) as well
as two chocolate Capitol
domes, one made from
milk chocolate and the
other from dark chocolate.

Decorations included
a Monopoly board with
houses representing the
network’s 100 million
homes.

September