Broadband Cable Association of Pennsylvania


November 19, 2013

Andy Himmelwright, the general manager for Service Electric Cable TV2 channel, considers himself an avid outdoorsman. "I'm an outdoors guy and the outdoors are near and dear to my heart," he said last week. "I already got my buck in archery season, and now I'm getting my coyote traps set. I'll be out bear hunting [Saturday]." Himmelwright wants others to appreciate the outdoors as well, which is why he's developed a special block of programming on TV2 that includes "Wild Pennsylvania with Allen Probst" and "Backwoods Angler TV" with Blaine Mengel.

On Sunday, TV2 will add a third locally produced show to its stable for a three-show block. "Whitetail Underdogs" the brainchild of Craig Boushell, who has been producing "Whitetail Underdog" hunt DVDs for the past six years along with web episodes for the last three years, is making its cable debut. "This Sunday we'll air that show in the middle time slot between 'Wild Pennsylvania' and 'Backwoods Angler,' " Himmelwright said. 'Wild Pennsylvania' will air at 10 p.m. followed by 'Whitetail Underdogs' at 10:30 p.m. and 'Backwoods Angler' at 11 p.m. "I'll most likely change that block of shows down the road into a time slot that doesn't get pre-empted by our other sports programming," he said.

Boushell is stoked for the opportunity to be on regional cable television. "We started out averaging 3,000-5,000 web hits and now we're up to 12,000-15,000," Boushell said. "One of our hog hunts in Florida hit 30,000 views." "Whitetail Underdogs" features hunts that are mainly for local whitetail deer, which makes it ideal for TV2's mission of airing locally produced shows concerning local happenings. The show does occasionally do trips to other locales, and will feature other game hunts for wild turkey, bear and fox. "It will be a mix of hunts," said Boushell, who does an introduction and conclusion from his home studio for each of the two hunts featured on each show. "The pilot is a whitetail hunt in the Pocono Mountains and a turkey hunt in the Lehigh Valley to show our variety."

Boushell and his fellow Whitetail Underdogs - Stan Banas, Jason Young and Mark Davis - are combing through the first six years of footage from their DVDs to produce the television show. Davis is serving as the editor. Boushell said one of the TV2 episodes will feature his 9-year-old son, Logan, shooting his first archery buck with a crossbow at 22 yards. All the "Whitetail Underdog" hunters are self-trained with video. Boushell said the group has been so busy getting the footage together for the television episodes that there hasn't been much time for hunting. "We've only got three or four deer down this season," he said. "Since I do so much filming right now, I just may go out and get one buck and then film the rest of the hunting season." Boushell said that producing material for "Whitetail Underdogs" is a labor of passion, not financial gain, although the latter would be nice at some point. He said the contributing hunters all hold down real full time jobs and simply go hunting like most other people. Everything in their videos is legal and ethical in regards to hunting laws and regulations.

Eventually, "Whitetail Underdogs" would like to make it to the Sportsmen's Channel or the Outdoor Channel, but the group recognizes that the journey to the big networks is done one step at a time. Himmelwright said the demo tape definitely piqued his interest enough to set up a meeting. "Craig came in and talked to me," he said. "Their stuff as OK. It was pretty decent, actually, for a bunch of local guys just getting into it; better than some of the stuff I've seen. We're always looking for that local aspect, and 'Whitetail Underdogs' certainly provides that."

Himmelwright said that the idea is to oversee additional expansion of the outdoors programming on TV2. "Now I've got three solid, locally produced programs in our cable coverage area that feature hunting and fishing around here," he said. But the best thing for the Sunday night block this coming weekend is that it comes the night after firearms bear season opens in Pennsylvania, and a week before the opening of firearms deer season. Allentown Morning Call

Time Warner Cable Inc. subscribers will soon be able to watch shows from the Discovery Channel or Animal Planet online, including on tablets or smartphones, thanks to a deal unveiled on Monday.

The agreement with Time Warner Cable is the first time the channels' owner, Discovery Communications Inc., has agreed to make its shows broadly available for pay-TV subscribers to stream online, four years after major TV companies began embracing the idea. TV executives see online availability of pay-TV programming, known in the industry as TV Everywhere, as a way of improving the value of pay television and reducing the incentive for consumers to disconnect in favor of cheaper online video options.

Discovery had been slow to make deals with distributors that included these rights previously because its executives had said they wanted to wait for better measurement of viewership on mobile devices, and ensure that they would be fairly compensated for any such deals they might make. In October, Nielsen said it would augment its TV ratings data with tablet and smartphone viewing data beginning next fall. In a call with analysts later that month, Discovery Communications Chief Executive David Zaslav noted that measurement improvements were coming "pretty quickly" for tablets, leaving price as the main sticking point. "Our position is that right now the cable operator only has the right to carry our channels through the TV set," Mr. Zaslav said at the time. "And giving that playability to the consumer is a real benefit to the cable operator. And so for us, right now we are just at this little bit of an impasse on value."

That impasse was resolved by Time Warner Cable increasing the amount it paid Discovery to carry its channels, according to people familiar with the matter. Time Warner Cable struck the deal as part of a broader renewal of its distribution agreement with Discovery. Discovery owns an array of channels focused mostly in nonfiction programming, including TLC, Science and Military Channel as well as OWN, a joint venture with Oprah Winfrey. Discovery had previously done a trial TV Everywhere deal with Comcast Corp. , making Discovery Channel available on Comcast's Xfinity streaming platform. But the Time Warner Cable agreement represents Discovery's first deal across its full portfolio of channels. The streaming capabilities will go into effect next year across all platforms, according to a Discovery spokeswoman. It is not yet known whether Discovery will roll out its own mobile apps or make its content available through Time Warner Cable's app.

Although all major network groups have now at least begun to sign TV Everywhere deals, the TV Everywhere landscape remains highly fragmented, as not every pay-TV distributor has deals with every network for streaming rights. Further complicating the picture, while some cable operators like Comcast have invested heavily in their online portals like Xfinity for piping cable programming to subscribers, others have lagged behind. Cable and media executives alike have bemoaned the ad-hoc experience for consumers today, which exists as a sea of apps that require customers to remember cable usernames and passwords.

Verizon is offering a $50,000 reward for information about repeated thefts of copper cable in the (Pittsburgh) North Side. The company said that nearly 20 thefts have occurred over the last couple of years, with the most recent on Nov. 11. In all, more than 2,000 feet of copper cable have been stolen, resulting in damages exceeding $400,000. Verizon said hundreds of phone customers have experienced service delays of up to several days because of the damage. Most of the thefts occurred on Gershon, Nublock and Royal streets. The company said it is taking additional security measures and is working closely with police. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review