Future of TV West

25Mar09

Yesterday, the weather was balmy and Grauman’s had blocked off Hollywood Boulevard in prep for the premiere of “The Cross.” The scene was so L.A. Across the street, TV 2.0 execs started to arrive at the Hollywood Roosevelt to strategize the course for the future of the medium.

Ned Sherman, Digital Media Wire’s publisher, warmly greeted everyone. Then the ETC with several analysts (SmithGeiger, Parks Assoc, Magid) took the stage for a session of extreme analytics. No question, linear TV is shrinking. Of the 16-54y breathing, most are splitting their viewing between the web and television. Happy Birthday Hulu! Programming may be becoming untethered, but don’t count out the network scheduler yet. The broadcast lineup is still key in creating powerful, compelling brands. Half the time, people are still sitting down primetime live for their ‘must see tv’ as an event to look forward to, to schedule, to experience as a community. A quick survey of hands showed most tuning in live at least once a week, and going online to catch up, watch again, share with friends, find out more, interact with the characters, shape the storyline, and discover new favorites.

TV is a friend that keeps us company and entertains us. Knowing this, the industry’s charge is to make the box better. Although lately all the CE shows are focused on ‘thinner’ with a bit more detail on convergence, Connected TV is coming. ZillionTV, Sezmi and TiVo with their T-commerce offerings enabling impulse buying of show merchandise, (e.g Jack Bauer’s watch) as well as pizza delivery in the moment.

“Yes” Kevin Reilly, Head of Fox Entertainment patriotically proclaimed, “We are a consumer society and as such we actually do enjoy advertising as entertainment content. TV is still the greatest ad delivery platform ever created by mankind.”

So what to do about Hulu, the cannibalizing agent, created by Fox and NBCU, accelerating TV’s demise. Long form branded premium content is expensive to produce. Even with high CPMs, 30 second pre-rolls plus interstitials, banners and endcards, online revenue is no substitue for the 22 minutes of commercials an hour show gets. Of course the answer lies in selling broadcast/online ad bundles that match consumption and engagement of the property.

On the content acquisition front, TV.com announced being open for partnering since leaving Hulu’s syndicated network. Netflix announced paying upfronts for the good stuff, starting with South Park. (Unheard of these days as most won’t pay for content.) Travel Channel (in the audience) said it’s doing the same for short form. All this got big smile despite the gloomy faces at Revision 3’s breakout on monetizing content. Even with $80 CPMs and tee shirt sales, talent with huge audiences are not getting rich online.

The day was chock full of top tier advice from Sony, Veoh, Yahoo, Sundance, Lionsgate, even industry guru Liz Heller. They fortold the roles of the game consoles, Facebook and the smart phones. Talked about Lil Wayne’s FREE payoff. And Kenradio dazzled everyone with Qik video recording on his iPhone, not available in the App Store šŸ˜¦

The day ended with poolside cocktails, and starving people running off to dinner. I was in a pod with a TV writer, STB innovator and music industry exec discussing horror stories on PC-TV cabling, buffering, plug-n-play ease/premiums for the 30y+ demo, HBO’s brillance and the tragedy of Rome, JJ Abrams’ Ted Talk on the Magic Box and Kevin Reilly’s “Popped Culture.”

Today includes XBLA, Funny or Die, MySpace, YouTube, Break, Starz, MTV, DailyMotion, Disney, Felicia Day (Dr Horrible), Hollywood Reporter and more. Not sure who is left to speak at the other content conference around the corner but “Future of Television West” is definitely worth dropping in on.

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2 Responses to “Future of TV West”

  1. great story, thanks

  2. wow.. it’s a great post, i was looking for this, thank you for the information


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