VR for Cable Companies? Booth Students Capture Another Win with Comcast Case Competition

Entering my second year, I realized that packing more exciting things into an already busy-enough schedule  is what we have become really good at. One of the most important secrets to make everything work is the people around me. During the course of the past 4 months, I was lucky enough to join a fantastic journey about virtual reality.

Read on to find out how a handful of us Booth students made our mark on the media and entertainment industry with our winning market strategy pitch for TV and online video innovation.

The following  article was originally posted in Chicago Business by my classmate and teammate Alexis Miller. 

Chicago Booth students made a footprint in the media industry, taking home 1st place in the Interactive TV Works Competition sponsored by Comcast. The team of both 1st and 2nd years including Vivian Fan (17’), Ray Liu (17’), Alexis Miller (17’), Diego Celayeta (18’), and Peter Randaccio (18’) represented Booth in Philadelphia at the Comcast Center, competing against four other business school including NYU Stern, which notably offers a media and entertainment business concentration. Although Booth may not be known for its strong media business track, the Media, Entertainment, & Sports Group at Booth has an active membership and strives to provide resources for students looking to go into the industry.

The competition brought together MBA students from a number of schools and allowed them to network with media and technology industry executives and recruiters while at the Comcast Center in Philadelphia.
The competition brought together MBA students from a number of schools and allowed them to network with media and technology industry executives and recruiters while at the Comcast Center in Philadelphia.

The Interactive TV Works competition, started by TV industry veteran, Craig Leddy, engages MBA student teams to compete in creating winning go-to-market strategies and marketing plans for advanced TV and online video innovations. The competition is designed to promote emerging video technologies by encouraging innovative launch strategies and marketing plans. Each MBA team was assigned a different case question that centered around the evolving media landscape as it related to Cable providers like TV Everywhere, Big Data in media, and how to reach cord cutters using digital content platforms.  The Booth team was assigned a case prompt about virtual reality and was tasked to build a business strategy and marketing plan for the feasibility of Cable providers entering this market. VR is revolutionizing video games and cropping up in ancillary uses for television content, such as a Game of Thrones opening credits in VR. Producers also are finding unique ways to use 360-degree video, a less immersive experience, but one that does not require a headset.  The ultimate success of many video innovations – be it digital video, HDTV, 3DTV, 4K Ultra HDTV or VR – depends largely on service providers’ willingness to support the technical capability and distribute the content to their customers. The Booth team had to build a case around whether it makes business sense for cable operators to invest in the growing VR trend and if so what that should look like. To help provide scope and direction, the Interactive Case competition provided both coaches and mentor companies within the media, tech and cable space to guide the team’s recommendations. The Booth team was paired with a coach from the company Arris, which is a telecommunications equipment manufacturing company that provides cable operators with high-speed data, video and telephony systems for homes and businesses. The team also received perspective about the VR space from Comcast executives, who spoke about how they viewed possible routes into VR.

Since tech giants like Google cardboard and Facebook Oculus are investing heavily in both the hardware and content around VR, these companies have a competitive advantage over operators entering this space. The Booth team recommended that cable operators, who are also Internet Service Providers (ISP), should leverage their current subscriber base and increase their bandwidth capabilities in order to offer a VR package to their current customers. Also suggested in the recommendation, operators should partner with content creators to create a VR marketplace where both premium and indie content could be upload for cable subscribers as well as non-subscribers. The judges at the competition, who ranged from TV service providers and content programmers like NBCU to tech providers like Juniper Network, were impressed by the Booth team’s analysis and presentation of this emerging disruptive technology.

– Thanks to Alexis Miller, Class of 2017, for the guest blog post. Alexis also writes for Booth’s newspaper Chicago Business, where this article was originally published.

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