Internet TV company Narrowstep has hired former cable and broadcast exec Roger Werner as a strategic consultant, looking to tap his cable and other contacts to help grow its business in the U.S.
Werner, who was COO of ESPN during a period of explosive growth in the mid 1980's, went on to launch Speedvision (no Speed Channel), and the Outdoor Life Channel in 1995.
Werner was also briefly VP of ABC, so he brings both cable and broadcast experience to Narrowstep.
He will now pitch the value of IP TV, one of the growing number of multichannel video services vying for digital hearts and minds.
Narrowstep, which provides the architecture and upkeep of the channels, is looking to help programmers create niche or locally targeted networks on which they can sell local ads, with Narrowstep taking a cut of the ad dollars. According to spokesman Brian Kennedy, the company is already doing prototype testing with some U.S. cable companies.
As a model for targeted channels that could boost the local-ad revenue stream for cable, the company cites its creation of local IP TV channels for Britain's ITV--ITV Brighton and ITV Hastings--which solicit viewer video contributions and include classifieds and coverage of local events.
Narrowstep delivers more than 70 channels of programming, almost exclusively European channels, to the United Kingdom, the U.S., Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands.
The company is focusing on aggregating niche channels, like its cycling or extreme sports channel, that can generate word-of-mouth buzz and thus require fewer marketing dollars to promote.