SBJ/March 21-27, 2016/People and Pop Culture

Plugged In: Vin Zachariah, Vyve Broadband

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An executive with more than 13 years in the cable industry, Vin Zachariah makes the programming decisions for Vyve Broadband, a midsized multisystem operator that targets rural markets in select states. Nearly two years ago, Zachariah made the decision to drop Viacom’s channels. He says he wants programmers to grant Vyve more flexibility to roll out smaller program bundles.

ESPN brings national carriage and national deals that don’t necessarily involve sports [with Disney’s nonsports channels]. Regional sports networks tend to have their value wrapped into the individual teams and the ebbs and flows you have with them.


Photo: COURTESY OF VIN ZACHARIAH

On the importance of sports programming:
In our markets, which are more rural and skew older, the need to watch big-market sports isn’t what it once was. There isn’t as much value around marquee events. An example is the MLB All-Star Game. Thirty years ago, it was the biggest sports event of the summer. Does the value of some of the sports outside of football still draw? That’s our concern.

On cord cutting: We don’t think it’s a huge threat right now. We think people still want a way to view programming through cable. There are disparate ways to view programming in a traditional setting. Folks want to sit around and have a good experience around their primary or secondary TV or video device. We don’t see that changing.

On skinny bundles: We’re supportive of them. We’re constantly looking for flexibility. That’s what our customers want. The skinny bundle is a way to offer more options than we’re allowed to offer today. It’s frustrating that we can’t do more of that.

On dropping channels: We dropped Viacom in May 2014; it’s still off. Comedy Central and some of these other stations don’t play as well when you’re out in the heartland. We’re comfortable with that decision and would do it again. When we don’t get the flexibility we want, we’ll make tough decisions because it’s the right thing for our customers.

Looking ahead 10 years: Interactivity is going to be bigger and bigger. Today, we view that as a second device, but folks want to be able to get all of their information at the same time. For example, when you watch Amazon today, there’s information at the top of the screen on the actors, director, even the music that’s playing. That’s the type of service that our customers are going to want and expect with sports programming.

— John Ourand

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