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Cable industry group says the Web won't kill TV

November 13, 2008 |  2:38 pm

David Verklin, chief executive of Canoe Ventures, probably packed a big paddle for his trip to the NewTeeVee Live conference in San Francisco. There the cable executive mapped out, to a room full of geeks, his industry's ambitious agenda for countering growing competition from online video.

Among the highlights: Within 100 days, Canoe Ventures, a joint venture between the nation's top six cable providers, will roll out more targeted advertising in some markets. Within the year, Canoe will offer consumers new features.

Verklin said cable operators have seen the threat and the opportunity as the industry morphs right before their eyes. "Don't count out the television business," he said. "We are getting back in the game."

Canoe has a direct pipeline into about 60 million cable-watching households in the U.S. and provides Internet service to a third of the country. It plans to use that reach. For example, it's going to add voting and polling so consumers can vote for their favorite player during a football game or answer ...

... the final question on "Jeopardy." It's also planning a feature that will allow you to click a button on your remote control to get a recipe, a sample or a coupon, and another feature that allows you to click on a movie ad to see the full trailer or on a video game ad to see a demo.

Another strategy: Canoe is targeting the promise of "t-commerce" -- buying directly from the television and being charged on your cable bill, credit card or PayPal account. And Canoe wants to gather information from its set-top boxes to target ads to consumers who want to see them (think dog food ads for dog owners). Verklin said Canoe would keep the personally identifiable information anonymous. "Data is the new creative," he said.

He didn't say how much the cable companies invested in Canoe, just that it was "serious coin."

His main point: Cable gets it. But, as one person attending the conference pointed out, for a consortium that says it gets the Web, Canoe Ventures has an "epic domain fail." The group's logical website, canoeventures.com, is in fact a Canadian fishing site.

-- Jessica Guynn

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