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Profile: Dan Templin

Feb 26, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Title: Vice president of marketing and programming, Susquehanna Communications, a 25-year-old York, Pa.-based multiple system operator serving about 200,000 customers in secondary markets. The company recently deployed t-commerce applications contracted last month from solutions provider Commerce.TV.
Why ITV? “Because we’re in secondary markets, we have a great deal of competition from satellite providers. What they can’t do is interactivity-and we can. We have higher bandwidth capacities. As of September 2000, we’ve offered digital video [including an electronic program guide] in each of the seven systems we have and high-speed data in 85 percent of our customer base.
“We looked at , Internet over the TV and t-commerce. The economics of VOD did not make sense, because the cost of the equipment is high and there’s uncertainty over the content-who is going to supply it? With Internet over the TV, the technology wasn’t as compelling as the concept-it just wasn’t far enough along the development line, and capital costs were high.
“For us, t-commerce included enhanced TV, actual commerce and shopping applications and interactive TV. Our engineers concluded that Commerce.TV’s control network was superior-it was flexible, easy to install and readily upgradable. And we liked its management team-it has quite a deal of experience on the cable, software and retail equipment sides.”
Three apps: A customer-initiated virtual mall, synchronized programming, enhanced TV.
“We took a real hard look at the advanced applications that we could offer over our platform, Scientific-Atlanta’s Explorer 2000 model. It does have memory and an internal processor like a PC: We can do seamless software upgrades-there are no system or hardware change-outs. We simply send the upgrades on a download.”
SusComm Mall: “Our first deployment, in York, Pa. [90,000 customer base, roughly 9,000 digital households], was on Jan. 15, as a free, added-value service. There are 12 categories, including music, videos, books, toys, games, home and garden products, changed out daily. All of the vendors and merchants were recruited and are maintained by Commerce.TV. We get a small slice of every purchase.” (Specific terms were not disclosed.)
Tests: “There was an enhanced programming trial with ESPN during the NHL All-Star weekend and Winter X Games, which let viewers get standings and descriptions of events, plus a synchronized merchandise offering, which let viewers buy merchandise related to the programming. We [also] had a virtual mall of national retailers-including Black & Decker, Sony PlayStation, Nintendo and SportsAttire
.com-who were brought there by Commerce.TV. Another test is being discussed with Starz Encore Media Group.”