In Memory of Scott Sanders Higgins

 
Scott Higgins was a 2005 receipient of our ITVT Award for Leadership.
 
* Kevin Cohen rememberance
* Cathy Hetzel rememberance 
* Jonathan Boltax rememberance
 
ITVT learned over the weekend that Scott Higgins, a seminal figure in the early days of interactive TV in the US, had died. His death has come as a shock to his many friends in the TV industry and beyond: he was just 59 and had appeared to be in excellent health. Our heartfelt condolences to his family.
 
In addition to playing a crucial role in driving our industry forward, Scott was an all-round great guy (i.e. a mensch!), with a huge and generous personality, who touched many people's lives. A number of readers have already contacted us to share their memories of him, including Jonathan Boltax of PlayWorks Digital, who sent in the following reminiscences. If any other readers would like to send in their memories of Scott, we'll publish them in one or more upcoming issues of the ITVT newsletter. 
 
Additionally, we found a link to an old Radio ITVT podcast dated May 28, 2008 featuring Michael Finn, VP of advertising sales at DISH Network, and Scott, the company’s director of interactive programming (at the time), in which they discuss DISH’s new interactive TV advertising deal with NBC Universal. It's great to hear Scott's no-nonsense, optimistic voice and hear his thoughts about the emerging market/industry, building ITV apps, partners and all the insights both men provided.
 
 
 
IN MEMORY OF SCOTT SANDERS HIGGINS
 
Kevin Cohen
 
Thank you for sharing this sad news … I agree with the comments from Boltax about what an incredibly important role Scott played in the development of interactive TV.  Many people don’t realize that for most of the U.S., their first experience with enhanced and interactive TV was through Dish Network.  Wink’s business model with DirecTV and a few cable operators was coming to an end, and Web TV, AOL TV, Akimbo, Boxee and the rash of other side cars were too big, too slow, too expensive, too complicated and too soon.  Scott and his able team were able to light up millions of STBs that required the consumer to only continue to do what they were already doing … navigate their guide and just sit back and relax.  
 
I’m very proud to have had the opportunity to work closely with Scott on helping to bring CNN Enhanced to the Dish Audience, most of whom probably didn’t know what to expect when they saw an unusual overlay show up on their screen when they tuned to any of their favorite channels, whether it was ESPN, Weather Channel, or CNN.  I’m not sure if Dish senior management even knew what an amazing leader and negotiator Scott was, to bring on board the top brands and get them to pay for their own app development and make it seem like you were getting the best deal you’d ever had … very Tom Sawyer-like!  Even when you had launched your app Scott had you on your heels, letting you know that there was high demand for that bandwidth you were occupying on the carousel, and pointing out that the virtual channel games were getting better ratings than your core network programming, which then led to us outbidding ourselves to try to race to develop a new app for Cartoon Network to get into the games channel.  And this was really the only way it could have happened … for Scott to evangelize to the brands about the opportunity to share our combined vision to bring enhanced and interactive TV to the masses.  The concept of blending Internet data and traditional video is something that we now take for granted every day, but it was a monumental achievement at the time.  
 
Scott had just the right blend of gruff, humor, business savvy and vision to be a truly iconic figure in the development of interactive/enhanced TV, and his passion, leadership and spirit will be sorely missed. 
 
Kevin Cohen
Former GM Interactive/Enhanced TV, Turner Broadcasting 
 
 

Cathy Hetzel

Thank you Tracy for giving us a forum to pay our respects to one of the great ones.  The community of those of us who have fought the ITV wars together is evidenced by the ITV Doctor, Rick Howe reaching out to me on Sunday with this sad news.  Scott was all about family and community so it would warm his heart to see how he has brought us together to honor him.
 
My memories of Scott start with the vast amount of intelligence, energy and creativity he brought to his work.  I recall negotiating a Dish deal with him during a horrendous snow storm and the continuation of the negotiation over the holidays.  Even through the tough parts of the negotiation, he never lost his wit or sense of humor, characteristics I try to carry forward with me.  The Dish Summits in the early days were sometimes outrageous but one always left learning something new and making new friends.  Scott built a community around passionate people who shared his vision of what television can be.
 
Scott’s excursion evenings during the ITVT San Francisco Summits were legendary. I had the pleasure to meet many of you through those evenings spent together and it is an honor to have been his friend.  He brought us all together and I hope in his memory we continue that tradition of community that he created for us.
 
My heart goes out to his family and to all of you. 
 
Cathy Hetzel, comScore

--

Jonathan Boltax

Scott's office at Dish always seemed to be bursting at the seams.
 
Scott sat crowded behind a desk piled with papers, bookended by a seemingly never-ending supply of M&M's, STB's teetering upon falling, and a whiteboard filled with pending launches, previous launches and new ideas.
 
I think we first met in 2005 at the Dish offices in Englewood. I felt I was hit by a tornado. He started and I just listened and furiously took notes trying to keep up as he waxed poetic about visions, deadlines, family and more.
 
Scott was THE force behind Interactive TV in the mid-2000's. Great leaders put together great teams and his all-star team of Chris Kuhrt, Jesse Montgomery, Marilyn Taylor, Michael Goldst and others was single-handedly taking the dream of Interactive Television to new heights. Thank God, I was along for the ride. DishGAMES, Hunting Trails, 100's of iAds, Papa Johns, ESPN Interactive, ESPN Fantasy Tracker, and the list goes on and on.
 
Dish Summits became the highlight of the year. It was nice to win those little 2-inch statues but everyone came for one reason: to hear Scott. Scott was the funniest, most dynamic emcee any award ceremony has ever seen. In your heart you knew he was just giving it all so, as you were barraged with stories, things Dish wanted you to know and probably a lot of things Dish didn't want you to know, you just sat with a smile across your face for the entire time.
 
I sent pictures of my son's pitching form to Scott for advice.
 
My only time fishing with Scott is still seared in my brain.
 
Scott Higgins was way too big for his little office at Dish in Englewood.
 
Scott Higgins, you paved the way for my career in many ways and I am forever thankful. If I didn't say it while you lived, please hear me now….Thank you!
 
May your soul have a blessing in heaven and may your entire family be given the consolation needed during this difficult time.
 
Love and Blessings
 
Jonathan Boltax and The PlayWorks Family