Innovation in Fairfax County: TV Worldwide

From its Chantilly studios, TV Worldwide produces and distributes diverse, "intelligent" Internet TV.

"Intelligent Internet TV." That's how Chantilly-based TV Worldwide, a veteran-owned Internet TV company, likes to refer to its product.

Under chairman and CEO Dave Gardy, TV Worldwide developed the first network of community-based Internet TV channels, primarily targeting specific industries and professional audiences. Since 1999, Fortune 500 companies, federal government agencies and numerous associations -- including the National Association of Broadcasters -- have partnered with TV Worldwide to use its live and on-demand video-streaming content applications and Internet channels.

TV Worldwide's advisory board has included astronaut Buzz Aldrin (a founding shareholder) and the late rock star J. Geils. The company has webcast every U.S. president since 1999 and has recorded public service announcements with everyone from Colin Powell to Tom Selleck.

E-Bird Extra chatted with Gardy, a Fairfax County resident, about his company's evolution and what is ahead.

EB: How did you get your start?

DG: I came out of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (Kings Point, N.Y.) as a naval reserve officer helping to design ships. At the time, we were doing mostly conversions on ships that were falling apart. There were no drawings, so we would take video cameras out to the ships as engineers and shoot the conditions we saw to help redesign those spaces. That got us into video and into TV tech.

EB: What about your roots in Fairfax County?

DG: I came here in 1980, worked for a naval engineering firm for about six years, then started Gardy McGrath International in Fairfax County. We ended up building -- where we are today -- the first full-service production facility with camera people, producers and directors in-house. That lowered the price for corporate video. We sold that company in 1999 along with our affiliate, TV on the Web, the first TV Internet streaming company, and started TV Worldwide in 1999.

EB: Physically speaking, what changes have your facilities undergone?

DG: We've almost doubled our size here in Chantilly to about 15,000 square feet to facilitate the largest internet TV studio on the East Coast. We do 40 to 50 percent of our work in-studio where we edit and have post-production facilities. But we do a lot of travel, up and down the East Coast and across the U.S. We have seven or eight full-time staff and 12 to 15 freelancers. We also have relationships with contract workers such as videographers and webcast engineers in most major metropolitan areas.

EB: Your business seems rather multi-faceted. Can you explain it?

DG: TV Worldwide has two divisions: One is a services and solutions division that produces internet TV webcasts, both live and on-demand. The other builds its own content on a network of TV channels. That content is targeted to specific industries, such as our Cybersecurity TV channel, a channel for the maritime industry, a channel for the federal government, a veterans channel and a channel focusing on disability technology.

EB: So, how do you make money?

DG: What we try to do is become the first mover in a particular space, build an Internet channel, then own the space and set up competitive barriers to entry. We generate revenue through multiple streams: advertising, commerce, sponsorship, pay-per-view, syndication. In addition, people pay us on the service-and-solutions side to produce content for channels that feature them.

EB: Why have you been able to grow?

DG: Internet TV has matured to the point where people understand that you can go online to watch professional, business-quality content. People initially looked at the Internet for entertainment -- YouTube-type videos, cats on roller skates.

We're after a more professional audience. That's why we call our content 'Intelligent Internet TV.' That's a higher income demographic, a professional demographic that wants to 'lean in' to get information. We use our main company almost as a mother ship to build the channels and incubate them until they're ready to go out...We believe that content is king. If we build real quality content, it's not so much about the distribution, not so much about the branding. It's about the popularity of the content that's going to keep the audience coming back.

EB: Why do all of this in Fairfax County?

DG: I think the channel demographics that we serve are facilitated in Fairfax County. We have our federal channel and our channels for disability technology and IT are big in some avenues here. Cybersecurity is big here. We had no idea the response we'd get when we launched it. But primarily because of the companies here in Fairfax County and their proximity to federal agencies, we've created some powerful content and revenue streams. This is a cybersecurity mecca for experts in that field and becoming more so. We've only begun to see the early curve of cybersecurity growth in this county.

EB: It seems your connection to veterans and the military remains important to you and your company.

DG: Because I've worked with a lot of military personnel over the years, I developed a real respect for the discipline and professionalism involved in a military career. We love to serve our veterans. We do a lot of veterans productions and we train veteran-owned companies in how to obtain federal contracts and how to become verified as a veteran-owned company. Our show called the Veteran Entrepreneur Training Series (VETS) teaches newly-minted, veteran-owned companies how to build their brand.

EB: What events presented the greatest challenge for your video service?

DG:  One of the large-scale events we did was Victory Over Europe Day -- the 75th anniversary in 2015 -- when a fleet of 58 vintage aircraft flew from Virginia over the Mall (in Washington D.C.). We knew we'd have a challenge getting wireless bandwidth, so we hired a satellite truck and ended up building our server to  handle 117,000 simultaneous streams for that event. Covering our first Virginia Gold Cup (horse race) out in The Plains was a challenge because that course is so spread out and we had to have cameras everywhere. You learn very quickly that with any live production anything can go wrong. So, it's always a challenge.

EB: Tell us about some of the famous folks you've worked closely with. How did you become involved with both Buzz Aldrin and J. Geils?

DG: Buzz Aldrin was a founding shareholder and is still very active with us. He still emcees the E-naugural Ball, which we've webcast on our veterans channel every year since 2000 beginning with George W. Bush. With J. Geils, we webcast a lot of concerts. Jazz was his real love. People don't know, but he did a lot more jazz after his rock 'n roll career and we were doing jazz webcasts.

EB: What's TV Worldwide's next great adventure?

DG: We're looking to build a TV drone channel -- all about the business of drones. We're also looking at creating a channel in cooperation with Indian-American CEOs because there's a strong community of very intelligent and innovative entrepreneurs in the Indian-American community in and around Fairfax County.