Terry Denson Oversees Entertainment Strategies for FiOS Service

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Who: Terry Denson, VP, FiOS TV content strategy and acquisition, Verizon Communications.

Why you need to know him: Mr. Denson oversees the entertainment content and marketing strategies for Verizon, which includes video product packaging, pricing and content acquisition and distribution agreements for Verizon's fiber-optic service, FiOS.
Terry Denson said content distributors, including Verizon, will provide greater value to advertisers and bring them closer to the audience.

Last month, he negotiated a precedent-setting deal with CBS Corp. to carry the network’s analog and digital signals, as well as video-on-demand content from CBS and its company-owned stations, over the FiOS service, which poses a threat to cable operators. He has also hammered out deals with Walt Disney Co., Viacom's MTV and other content providers, as Verizon spends $15 billion over the next 10 years building out a competitor to cable -- and a potential new outlet for branded entertainment.

Credentials: Mr. Denson joined Verizon in 2004. Before that, he was VP-programming for cable TV operator Insight Communications, where he acquired programming and led the development of content strategies for analog, digital, video-on-demand, high-definition TV, broadband and interactive properties. Mr. Denson also previously worked at MTV in affiliate sales and marketing.

How do you see the traditional TV advertising model evolving as Verizon and AT&T begin to compete with cable? “The traditional TV ad model should bring advertisers closer to their targeted audience and result in more accurate measurements. Distributors will provide greater value to the advertisers by providing platforms that enable this proximity -- VOD, interactive, telescoping, hyper-local placement, etc. Each of these platforms relies on technology which will enable better measurement, more focused targets and greater detail.”

What is the role of branded entertainment in this new arena? “Branded entertainment should serve as anchor marketing and play a material role in customer acquisition, while the scope of a content offering will play a material role in customer satisfaction and retention as we move to a search-based, wide-ranging on-demand content world. For example, in a search-based world, genres and depth and diversity of category, with less regard to brand, will be of greater importance.”

Will the 15- or 30-second spot survive in this new world? “Spots survive and retain value to the extent distributors deploy the technical innovations necessary to better target and measure the placement.”

What will be the role of marketers in this new world? The same as it was with the traditional TV advertising model? “Marketing will begin a shift from branded asset-based to service-based marketing as search-based, on-demand content distribution becomes more prevalent.”

What are the biggest challenges ahead in making FiOS a viable alternative to cable? “The current challenge for us is not so much making FiOS a viable alternative to cable and/or satellite, but instead creating and growing a product that preserves the relevance of network-based distribution -- cable, satellite, FTTP, etc. -- as device-centric [PSP or Xbox] and virtual-network distribution [Google or Yahoo] gains traction in the marketplace.”

Where are you from? “I'm from upstate New York, a town called Webster. My mother worked for the school district and my father was an attorney, literally with a shingle on Main Street. In high school, I played football -– running back -– basketball and track. I went to Harvard and after graduation, I taught at Rye Country Day School. I then went to Georgetown Law School.”

What was your focus in law school? “On graduation.”

What was the key thing you learned in law school? “The philosophy underlying the United States of America.”

How did you wind up in media? “I didn't want to work for a law firm, so I went to the Library of Congress and looked up a book with listings of media companies. I hand wrote out addresses and sent a letter to 100 media companies. Some wrote back and many of those that did said they didn't hire right out of law school. But I met with Charlie Stanford, general counsel of ABC. I met with him for an hour in mid-semester and four or five months later, a message came that a job was available. I worked on the ABC Sports business, where I was a talent negotiator.” Mr. Denson negotiated rights for golf tournaments and horse races before making the move to MTV.
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