It was 1999, a seminal year for broadcast television in the transition from analog to digital, becoming better known to viewers as HD. Consumer confusion was at an all time high because big box stores were selling sets, but most stations were still broadcasting in analog. On top of that, during primetime the networks routinely put up a slate saying “In HD Where Available”.
Where exactly is this town called “Where Available”
There was so much marketplace confusion that I decided to build a website to try and help out. It was a simple idea, really. You enter your address and we would tell you which local stations were broadcasting in digital and which shows were in HD. Given that 2,400 stations and 120+ million households were about to make the transition to digital together, I knew the site would be a big hit. I had the technology, so all I needed was a name.
I called a friend of mine who owned a creative agency and said, “Matt. I’m going to build a website that tells people what channels they can get and what is on those channels. It’s going to be huge!” It was about time to head out on my noontime run so I told Matt to have a couple of ideas by 3:00 P.M.
Sometimes bad ideas lead to good ideas. That is why we brainstorm
Matt called me back promptly at 3:00. He said, “I’ve got the perfect name. Get out a pen and paper.” Okay, I’ll play along. Matt was a persnickety, infectiously high energy person, so I was excited to hear his idea. “Jack. Write the letters T – I – T – A – N – I – C – T – V dot com,” Matt said and I complied. “Titanic!” I screamed at Matt, “It sounds like it is sinking!”
“You said, it was going to be huge and the Titanic was enormous,” Matt said in an attempt to save face.
I didn’t know whether to laugh, or cry, or send him back to the drawing board. No way I could call a product TitanicTV.com. At this point Matt is still verbalizing ideas, but I am not really listening. I was just looking down at what I wrote. That is when I saw it. I put an X through the I – C and said, “Matt, you are a genius. We will call it TitanTV.com” We had a name and it indeed sounded huge.
The Unsinkable Molly Brown and TitanTV.com
I sold the company back in 2007 and it has changed hands a couple of times since. I will bet dollars to donuts the current owner is clueless as to the origin of the name. Not much has changed on it since I left, but it still plugs along as the best EPG out there, employing a handful of people, and like Molly, TitanTV.com is unsinkable.