Tag Archives: Gene_Schneider

December 14, 1978 – One Yes and One “It won’t work”

Denver, Colorado – What a day! Back to United Cable headquarters with our new concept of becoming the cable industry’s first ad-supported network. Gene Schneider and his Regional Managers, Bob Ball and Harvey Boyd, could hardly believe their ears. What they had mentioned tongue in cheek just ten days earlier was now roughly our new plan.

I updated them on my travels of the last ten days – Getty, NCAA, etc. – and they were suddenly enthusiastic. The whole plan was on a single sheet of paper that carried only eleven typewritten lines. “If you pull this off, I want to be your first affiliate,” Schneider said. Now THAT was really good news.

Next stop was just around the corner to TCI – Telecommunications, Inc. – Graham Moore was Vice President of Programming for this huge MSO. He listened attentively and said, “I like your idea very much. This is something TCI will be interested in, but frankly, I don’t see how you can pull it off. I wish you well, but I don’t see how you can do it.”

Talk about emotional highs and lows. Coming on the heels of the positive United Cable visit, Graham’s comments ended this particular Denver visit on a down note.

Summing up the two days in Denver was a bit sobering: One strange visit (ATC); One disbelieving visit to the point of barely concealed smiles (Daniels); One “I want to be our first customer;” and One, “You’ll never pull it off.” Not a promising beginning, but it was time to head for the airport again – destination, Austin, Texas to get acquainted with CPI – Community Properties, Inc.

The entire whirlwind month of December is detailed in the book: Sport Junkies Rejoice – The Birth of ESPN. Great Christmas gift for you or for any ESPN fan on your list. You’ll save 25% at http://espnfounder.com/sjr_discount2011.htm.

December 4, 1978 – Introducing The Plan In Denver

Denver, Colorado – As the calander turned to December discussions with cable operators, the NCAA and potential investors stacked up before the Christmas holiday break.

On this day 33 years ago, I left Hartford’s Bradley Field for a one day round trip to Denver to introduce our initial proposal to Gene Schneider, President of United Cable. He was an industry pioneer in the 1950’s and was known to be the first to sign for, promote and sell the latest idea. (Our Plainville office was in his United Cable office as noted earlier).

With two of his Regional Vice Presidents sitting in to hear wht I had to say I plunged in. “We plan to deliver a 24-hour sports service to the cable industry for just a penny a day,” I announced enthusiastically. Not an eye even flickered. Here I had jsut introduced this spectacular idea and no one else at the table was even remotely excited.

At that point I heard the first of what would be many, “It’ll never work at that price,” comments among other doubts. After a few more minutes of “why it won’t work” pronouncements, Schneider said other new services (I might add that none of them proposed 24 hour service)  were asking for a nickel or a dime and we won’t pay them, and you’re asking for 30 cents a month. It just won’t work on that basis.”

After an hour of being told all the reasons our plan would not work, I promised to rethink the proposed plan and return later in the month. Then it was off to the airport and back to Hartford. Reworking the proposal would be done, but I was already looking ahead to NCAA and investor meetings next week. There would be much work done before Christmas arrived.