HRTS Panel: Playing Field Leveling Between Broadcast, Cable
'State of the Industry' panelists discuss monetizing the digital traffic, continuing to adapt to ever-changing industry
By Tim Baysinger -- Broadcasting & Cable, 6/7/2012 7:50:11 PM
That was just one of the arguments made by the panelists at the Hollywood Radio & Television Society's annual "State of the Industry" Newsmaker Luncheon on Thursday in Beverly Hills, Calif.
"We're now thinking almost as much about cable as we are about broadcast," said Gary Newman, chairman, Twentieth Century Fox Television.
Newman argued that the success of original series on cable has allowed for shows that wouldn't fit the broadcast model -- like Showtime's Homeland, which was a massive success in its first season -- to have a home. "It was never going to be 22-episodes a year for five years on a network," Newman said. "Shows like Burn Notice, Sons of Anarchy and Homeland are not only great creative achievements but also going to be financial successes for the studio."
Nancy Dubuc, president & GM of History and Lifetime Networks, shared that sentiment, saying that "advertisers are very attracted to premium quality content," regardless of where it airs. "It's not uncommon for us on a Monday night to beat the broadcast networks." Her History Channel's Hatfields & McCoys became the No. 1 entertainment telecast in the history of ad-supported cable.
The panel agreed that whether it's cable or broadcast, the industry is still trying to play catch-up to the technological advances such as online and mobile viewing.
"It's clearly important that you're doing the right work for whatever platform you're developing it for," said Lloyd Braun, co-owner and founding partner of BermanBraun.
Braun said his company not only has to think about what content will attract viewers, but where the revenue for it comes from, stating the need for separate brands for television, digital and mobile platforms. "What you can consume and digest on [mobile] as content or an ad is totally different than what you're going to look at on a big flatscreen in your house."
"Digital is very different than anything that those of us who've grown up in television innately understand," Braun said. "It's as different from television as radio and print was from television"
The induction of TiVo and the DVR into the television landscape has caused many inside the industry to argue that Nielsen's ratings measurement system -- which broadcast networks strongly rely on -- is outdated.
"From my perspective it's probably the most critical issue in television," said Rick Rosen, head of WME's television department.
Rosen said that the majority of the people who watch shows inside their regular viewing window fall outside of the coveted 18-49 demo, and that many younger viewers wait longer than three days after a show airs -- which is how Nielsen accounts for time-shifted viewing.
Cliff Gilbert-Lurie, a partner at Ziffren Brittenham, LLP, continued arguing that younger-skewing shows, such as TBS' Conan (who boasts a median age of 34) suffer as a result, while older-skewing ones like CBS' Late Show are measured fairly accurately. "The people who are 34 that are watching the show and the people who are 55 that are watching the show are not watching it in the same way," said Gilbert-Lurie.
"There's more content being consumed, television being watched than ever before," said Rosen. "The problem is it's not being accounted for in an accurate way."
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