With linear TV and digital colliding, the role of multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) has required fraternizing with the enemy to some degree. In conversation with VAB CEO Sean Cunningham at the Beet Retreat in NYC hosted by Horizon Media, David Kline, executive vice president of Charter Communications and president of Spectrum Reach, explains that this means an unexpected partnership with cable networks.

“My analogy always was what if Mars attacked?” Kline says. “There’s all of these country conflicts, but if our asses were all on the line, just like a good sci-fi movie, we’d have to pull together and make it through. Mars did attack, in the form of Facebook and Amazon and Google. They attacked a few years back, so we’re pulling together now to try and give scale to all this advanced advertising that the ad tech players have been able to do.”

While MVPDs and networks continue to battle each other at times over things like affiliation agreements, they recognize that they need each other for scale in advertising. The resulting data has been enormously helpful in leading smaller businesses to television. Kline cites success stories like Peloton and Wayfair, who have used TV as a leveraging point for growing their brands. Spectrum Reach’s partner strategy also helps bolster its data strategy: Spectrum Reach works with Ampersand to catch up on advertising data collection, while 605 worked with the company to build out an audience app that lets users customize their own schedules.

This has also led MVPDs to explore the use of new products and advanced advertising technology. The launch of an ad portal has been a gateway for businesses of all budgets to get a more advanced look at data and customize advertising that suits them. Kline also mentions an audience app that their partner 605 designed for them that sifts through set-box top data to optimize a schedule.

“That’s been a game changer for us,” Kline says. “That’s taken the conversation away from ‘Just give me ESPN and USA Network’ to 50 networks deep.”

The redefining role of MVPDs as linear and digital continue to evolve has led to more precise data as well as more advanced forms of advertising. Kline says that this creates an environment ripe for opportunity for all stakeholders involved.

“I think from the local perspective to the national perspective, we’re going to make the ecosystem work much better,” says Kline.

Beet Retreat In The City @ Horizon Media is presented by 605 and Spectrum Reach. For more videos from the event, please visit this page