The penalty box is a good place to collect your thoughts

December 23, 2005

The future of broadcasting will be defined in 2006

Next year is going to be an extraordinary year for television. Nearly every station has made the transition from analog to digital. Broadband penetration has reached nearly every home. We carry cell phones, PDAs and other devices capable of high speed Internet access. PCs are starting to ship with built-in ATSC TV cards capable of receiving both data and video.

Decisionmark (aka TitanTV) has been laying the groundwork for this shift for nearly ten years. We saw back then that one day broadcasters would have two ways to reach viewers and that neither route involved cable. Like is so often the case, our visionstarted on a napkin. It was a moment of clarity. It was a flurry of phone calls, activity, grease board drawings and scribbling in notebooks that led to the vision. Clarity leads to vision. Vision leads to direction. Direction leads to execution. Execution leads to success. It all starts with clarity.

The vision then is exactly what it is today – connect every broadcasters to every viewer.

My first moment of clarity

Twenty-two years ago, at Christmas, I got in my car and left Michigan. The night before I had spent more time in the penalty box than I did on the ice in what turned out to be my final college hockey game. I was 20. Sitting alone in the locker room midway through the 3rd period I had a moment of clarity.

I could hear my uncle Bob, who had passed away unexpectedly years earlier, saying “Jackson, today is the first day of the rest of your life…” It was then I finally understood what he meant. You might say it hit me. If today really was the first day of the rest of my life then tomorrow would be, too. I didn’t want anymore days like today so I decided I was pretty excited about tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day…. All I needed to do was get that day over with.

So, I called all my friends over for an auction. I suggested they bring beer and money. With the exception of my hockey gear (which I couldn’t bring myself to part with) I sold everything I owned. Sometime in the wee hours of the night I fell asleep. I awoke to the first day of the rest of my life.

I left town with $278 to my name and headed for California. Hope had sprung eternal… When I got to LA I met my first guardian angel. Throughout our careers we all have guardian angels. Mine was Carol Swanson, the vice president and general manager of Charles Schwab in Century City. I started in the mail room. Whether she knows it or not Carol convinced me to believe in myself. She taught me that a key component of leadership is investing in people. She taught me to give people a chance.

Connect every broadcaster to every viewer

So here we are on the cusp of the most significant change in entertainment that the world has ever known. Decisionmark is going to change the way everyone watches television. We assembled the most talented, driven, focused and visionary group of software engineers, data engineers, QA staff, product managers, operations people and broadcast consultants found anywhere. Our vision, to connect every broadcaster to every viewer, will change the face of television forever.

Consumers will watch whatever they want, whenever they want and on whatever device they want by getting content from their favorite broadcasters both over-the-air and over-the-web. Sure, cable and satellite will be around for years to come. No question of that. My job, our job, is to ensure that the relationship, the long standing relationship, between viewers and broadcasters survives this momentous shift.

Ten years from now you’ll still get great network programming, news, weather and sports and you’ll still get it from your local broadcaster, regardless of whether you get it via cable, over-the-air, satellite or over-the-web. Why? Because we’re going to make sure it happens that way.

Sometimes clarity is the best gift of all… Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays