HRTS Panel: Traditional Media Companies Should 'Experiment' With Digital Programming
How to get advertisers to buy in still remains biggest hurdle for online media
By Tim Baysinger -- Broadcasting & Cable, 12/18/2012 5:40:57 PM
"I think they will experiment more," said Vivi Zigler, president, Shine 360° and digital, Shine America. "I think they will have to."
That was one of the takeaways from the Hollywood Radio & Television Society's "Digital/New Media Luncheon held Tuesday at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif.
"The future of TV is sitting in [consumer's] hands," said former Yahoo CEO Ross Levinsohn. "If the traditional media companies are smart, and we know they are, they're going to find their way to be experimenting right."
Zigler said those who think digital media will go the way of other passing fads are mistaken. "I don't think it's a fad or a phase [consumers] are going through." She said the biggest thing for digital platforms is the ease of use. "If you make me go through too many hoops... I'm not going to go," she said. "That's where good tech and good storytelling has to hold hands."
Zigler said right now there are two camps: those who create the content and those who create the technology. "They don't speak the same language," she said. "They might as well be from different planets." She said that the schism has caused sort of an "emerging culture in the middle."
Allen DeBevoise, chairman, CEO and cofounder of Machinima, said that programming for an online audience is different than a TV audience. "One of the fundamental things that is different about online video vs. what we see on television is the definition of good and the definition of, really, a programming model."
Brian Robbins, founder and president, Varsity Pictures and founder and CEO, Awesomeness TV, added to DeBevoise's comment, saying content has to be quicker but still provide a beginning, middle and end. "You can't backdoor a long-form something and try to cut it up," he said. "They have no attention span."
Levinsohn said that the only type of long-form programming that seems to work online is live events or sports, or what he called "appointment programming." He said "that's why sports rights are so valuable today." He added that the business model for online content and traditional media share some similarities. "[It's] really no different than networks, in a sense," he said. "You're making bets."
"How powerful the TV business and the digital world have come together on serialized content," said DeBevoise, who commented the next step for Machinima is to provide content for the AMCs and HBOs of the world, "Can we be a breeding ground for that?"
Scott Koondel, senior VP, corporate licensing and distribution, CBS Corp. and president of distribution, CBS Television Distribution, said that for the most part, CBS uses online content to serve its linear network. "We use these platforms to drive and drive eyeballs." He said he uses online content to help with C3 ratings or for help selling the backend of a show. "The important thing is getting paid."
He did mention that the serialized drama Under the Dome, which CBS will air next summer, will feature a multiplatform distribution window for each episode shortly after its broadcast airing. "The digital platforms have created a whole new opportunity for us."
Levinsohn argued that advertisers also need to see the benefit in online and digital media. He said instead of companies spending a lot of money to run ads on a show like American Idol -- where he argues that the target audience for that company is at best 50% of the total watching -- they should go online they can find a higher concentration of the consumers they're trying to reach.
"There's a long way to go for the advertisers to come in and make it successful," added Robbins. "They know they have to come and play, but the question is at what level?"
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