Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

TV in Paradise

  • By
  • | 12:58 p.m. May 6, 2011
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Share

What do hoteliers know about television production?

When hotel managers sign contracts for cable television in the rooms, they usually get an in-house channel for their hotel guests. But as good as hoteliers are at pleasing their customers, television production isn't one of their strong suits.

So an enterprising couple that once produced award-winning shows for public television started a small company in Naples called Paradise Coast TV. In exchange for the use of a hotel's in-house channel, Cecily and Larry Lancit produce short features on the area as a guest service. They make money by selling advertising on the channel.

After just one year in business, Paradise TV has spread to 5,000 rooms from Marco Island to Bonita Springs. Now, the Lancits are planning to move up into the Sarasota area. “We shoot, edit and write everything,” Larry Lancit says.

The Lancits are well known in public television circles. Before they sold Lancit Media and moved to Naples in 2002, the couple produced the hugely successful Reading Rainbow and Backyard Safari shows for PBS. Reading Rainbow earned the couple 20 Emmy awards.

But Paradise Coast TV is a scaled down operation from their New York production company, which employed as many as 20 people. “Now it's two of us in the van,” Cecily Lancit laughs.

The Lancits plug a DVD player at a hotel's cable end and the device runs programming to the rooms on a continuous hour-long loop. The programs are a mix of tourism-related activities and advertising.

Paradise Coast TV has about 25 advertisers who pay $450 a month for a one-minute spot for six months minimum, plus a one-time $500 for production cost. The current mix now is 65% editorial and 35% advertising.

When they decided to live full-time in Naples in 2002, the Lancits didn't plan to return to television. “We came here without a job or a plan,” says Cecily Lancit. They acquired and still run an Internet company that sells rock memorabilia called, but business slowed considerably during the recession. “We really kind of missed TV,” Larry Lancit says.

A cousin, William Howard, operates a company called Visitors TV Network, which provides the same service to hotels in more than a dozen cities. Paradise Coast is now an affiliate of Visitors TV.

It didn't cost much for the couple to get in business. They spent about $10,000, which included a $3,000 camera and a $1,000 computer with film-editing software.

However, the Lancits plan to install digital players that can be programmed to deliver video remotely over the Internet. That would save them the aggravation of driving to hotels to switch out DVDs once a month and allow them to change content more frequently. For example, they could promote specific events or special discounts with short notice.

Besides expanding to the Sarasota area, the Lancits are exploring delivery of their programs to residential neighborhoods. Still, the 60-something couple is cautious about growing the company too fast. “I don't want to work 20 hours a day,” says Larry Lancit.


Latest News


Special Offer: Only $1 Per Week For 1 Year!

Your free article limit has been reached this month.
Subscribe now for unlimited digital access to our award-winning business news.
Join thousands of executives who rely on us for insights spanning Tampa Bay to Naples.