HRTS Panel: Broadcast Execs Should Focus on the Consumer
'State of Broadcast' panelists discuss the DVR effect, Upfronts and how they would handle the Angus T. Jones situation
By Stephanie Robbins -- Broadcasting & Cable, 11/28/2012 7:54:33 PM
That was the general consensus from the panelists at the Hollywood Radio & Television Society's "State of Broadcast" Newsmaker Luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Century City Hotel Wednesday.
Kevin Reilly, chairman, entertainment, Fox Broadcasting Company, said television executives need to focus more on the consumer and that many have their "heads up their asses."
"I think as an industry, we are way too obsessed with competition with one another and not the consumer," Reilly said during the panel moderated by Lacey Rose, senior TV writer for The Hollywood Reporter. "We do things that frustrate and challenge the viewer. What are we doing about the way we distribute the product and schedule it to make the experience easier?"
On the subject of DVR usage and its negative affect on ratings, Reilly feels that the industry has not done a good job of getting its hands around it and that it's only a part of consumer behavior. "We're looking too myopically. The points of consumption are much broader than 7 days on DVR," he said. "We built these services but haven't figured out how to measure them and haven't reworked our broadcast platform."
Katherine Pope, president of television, Chernin Entertainment, added that television executives are still addicted to overnight ratings. "We say it means nothing, but we still value it," she said. "We haven't shifted our definition of success." She pointed out that it's not just the DVR that has an effect on viewership, but all the other platforms available to the consumer.
Peter Benedek, cofounder and board member, UTA, commented on the advertisers' role in regards to the DVR, saying it's their responsibility to make more compelling commercials to force people to watch. He pointed to the recent Samsung commercial featuring NBA star LeBron James as achieving that kind of goal.
Ken Ziffren, cofounder and partner, Ziffren Brittenham, LLP, said DVR is in a transitional phase. "In the near future, advertising won't be counted by eyeballs, but engagement," he noted. Given this shift in viewer consumption and behavior, Reilly hinted that Fox will be doing "other things this spring at Upfronts," while echoing his admiration of a year-round development season. "Cable networks were built in summer," he said.
On the topic of Upfronts, Pope said, "The falseness of the Upfront and fall launch bites you in the ass every time. You're still rushing to finish line."
Ziffren added that there is good reason for Upfronts and those advertisers should be entitled to see the product they are associated with, but added there is a scenario that could be more profitable. "Cable today has a 50% upfront by practice, so what if the over air nets did that?"
As for the saturation of singing competition shows on the TV landscape, Reilly commented that he "wished The Voice never happened."
"I think Idol will have a long graceful descent into maturity, but it would have been better without The Voice," he said.
When the panel was asked about how they would handle a situation like Angus T. Jones' infamous Two and a Half Men bashing YouTube video, everyone had varying perspectives.
"We are getting taste with Nicki Minaj," he said, referring to the American Idol judge's feud with former judge Steven Tyler. However, he ultimately thinks the controversy could be good for the show. "There's a point [where] it can get out of control, but that is when PR people intervene."
"It depends on the [individual's] work ethic," Pope said. She says the star has to blow past it and apologize, but could face more serious consequences if the work is impacted.
Benedek noted that in the case of Jones, it is the agent who is suffering. "I can assure you that there are many conversations...with [the agent] doing a lot of listening."
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