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Cable TV Pioneer Talks About Present, Future of Interactive Media

Tom Rogers sat down with the Emerson community this week to talk about the current state of television and Internet content, interactive sports media, and the lessons he has learned throughout his years as a top of executive of a number of cable stations and federal communications lawyer.

Currently the executive chairman of live sports app maker WinView Games, Rogers was on the team that created CNBC and MSNBC. He was executive director of TiVo until last year, and drafted several communications laws, including the federal Cable Act of 1984.

Rogers told moderator and Journalism faculty member Diane Mermigas on Tuesday, March 21, in the Walker Building, that when he was a kid there were only ten to thirty cable channels on TV, and today, there are hundreds.

“And also now, with the internet as a form of media access, it’s an infinite realm,” he said. “Consumers have more and more choice, but now they not only get to access more content, they can also now participate in the creation of their own content, independent from any networks.”

Mermigas shifted the conversation to media interactivity, specifically with live sports.

Rogers recalled that when he was an executive at NBC, he would look at the top 100 live programs, and nine or ten of them were sports. Now, 91 percent of all on-demand live programs are sports.

As executive director of WinView Games, whose app is currently the #1 live NFL and NBA predictions app on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, Rogers sees a huge opportunity for advancing user interactivity with the live-sport market.  

“People sitting together watching football, baseball, whichever live sport, is completely natural, but to have them competing with one another, placing live-time predictions on a set of propositions delivered to their mobile devices through an interactive media service is something new. There’s an entire realm of e-sports that remains untapped within the American media industry,” Rogers said, adding that this is a common service throughout Europe.

The industry for eSports and interactivity with live sporting events across the continent tops $15 billion, he said. If such personalized media interactivity can be introduced into American media, Rogers predicts, the community of eSports could be brought to the forefront of media interaction.

The discussion was opened to audience questions about Rogers’ leadership style, risks taken, professional failures, and advice to a younger self.

“Even if you feel like you can’t do it, take on tasks and jobs that give you a large amount of responsibilities,” he told the crowd. “More responsibility leads to more exposure, which in turn leads you to more networking opportunities, which in turn opens up the platforms for you to make a change.”

Julianna Sy, a sophomore Marketing Communication major, reflected on that point.

“If I were to create something, market something, I would want it to be a process where I am putting the whole of myself into that project, not simply do it for a profit,” she said. “I’m here because I have something to leave for the world, and Tom’s comments on that were very motivating.”

Rogers said his leadership style was not about control, but about continuously asking the right questions. He urged the audience to take risks, even in the face of adversity. He said that he didn’t look at failure as a final outcome, but of a lesson to be learned in order to change the next one.

Before the talk, Angelina Salcedo, president of the Emerson College chapter of the Radio Television Digital News Association, presented Rogers with a special citation for his role and contributions to the development of media communications.





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