It Is, admittedly, getting harder to distinguish a digital all-star from an overall all-star, in this world of tech companies scooping up emmy nominations and 80-year-old broadcast networks doing business via twitter.
Even so, there are clearly those who excel in the digital arena. While only a few members of our 2013 roster have the word "digital" in their job titles, all of these exemplary figures have harnessed the power of technology to achieve extraordinary results.
Michael Biard: Good Judgment Leads to Trust With Distributors
Lawyer-turned-digital executivepoints Fox to deals and profits
Michael Biard's mother dreamed her lawyer son would one day be a judge. his father just didn't want to see him riding his motorcycle. (he had a point: Biard broke his back once when he crashed doing 160 mph.)
But Biard ultimately went into TV, and as executive VP for distribution at Fox Networks, his job negotiating with cable operators and satellite companies seems relatively safe. he recalls that digital issues started coming up as early as 2000. Digital cable was a plus, with subscribers paying more and programmers getting more networks distributed. then there was the scary kind of digital, which held promise but mostly caused concern that the new technologies would disrupt the way cable did business.
Biard says scary digital turned into something meaningful, but only recently, in the deals he makes. In 2010, Fox agreed to withhold content from the broadcast network from free Web distribution for a period of time. that "assured our distributors that we were mindful of their business models and trying to do things that were mutually beneficial. For broadcast content, it created a de facto [multichannel video programming distributor] exclusive window even for those that were not authenticated for us."
That was a watershed moment for the industry, and one Fox has built on, most recently with a big comcast deal earlier this year. Biard says agreements like that one will put more content on more platforms, including FoxSportsGo and FX Now.
"The key is to quit thinking of it as digital and think of it as distribution of our content, and try to make sure those experiences that resonate with consumers are consistent across all platforms," Biard says. -Jon Lafayette
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Michael Bishara: TV Everywhere's True Believer
Former HBO exec continues building toward that promise at synacor
As more Programmers and operators fight the threat of over-the-top video services by launching TV Everywhere services, Michael Bishara's long-standing work to improve those offerings has earned him a well-deserved spot on the 2013 B&C Digital All-Star list.
After joining HBO in 1998 in the subscriber marketing group, Bishara played a key role in the programmer's digital efforts during the 2000s. As senior VP of the HBO Broadband/Digital Group, Bishara spearheaded the launch of the groundbreaking HBO Go app in 2010.
HBO's decision to make all of its content available on multiple devices as part of a person's HBO pay TV subscription played a key role in helping raise TV Everywhere initiatives off the ground. But Bishara and others admit much work needs to be done on improving the user experience, which includes a cumbersome log-in process. "We have created an environment where the consumer has to work too hard to find content and be entertained," Bishara says.
Since moving over to content and services portal synacor last year, Bishara has been working to help operators overcome those problems. one particularly promising development is the synacor cloud Id, which lets customer use social logins from Facebook and other platforms, therefore circumventing the annoying process of entering a long cable account number before being authenticated.
Pointing to recent deals with operators, Synacor's senior VP of product and general manager of TV Everywhere says " will be the year for frictionless authentication for all content." -George Winslow
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Peter Blacker: Providing Data-Driven Digital Delights
Succeeding at Telemundo media by giving the customers exactly what they want
Digital doesn't just support broadcast at Telemundo--it is, at times, the star of the show. Peter Blacker mashed up two torrid properties-telenovelas and social media-when telemundo launched a digital series whose twists and turns played out on social media platforms, with users getting each new 5-minute video from prompts on YouTube and Facebook, before the finale aired on Google Plus. Called Secreteando, the novela was infused with big data-viewer research and feedback informing everything from casting the sexy leads to plot twists.
"We listen to what the audience says they want more of," says the 43-year-old Blacker.
It is forward-thinking, viewer-centric strategies such as these that keep Telemundo on the digital forefront. The spanish-language media giant also has a
web special, a viewer's Choice Awards show called Premios Tu Mundo, that got so much buzz it became a broadcast hit. Yet it remains true to its digital roots: This year, some winners will be announced via Twitter's Vine platform, with broadcast viewers getting the news after the commercial break. "those are the types of things where we like to push the envelope, because the audience is asking for it," Blacker says.
He's also overseeing a pair of films from Telemundo's new Los Angeles studio. Also tailored with audience research, the pictures will debut in theaters in select markets before going to cable and then a digital run.
Fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, Blacker says he has the best job in media. "Multiplatform and multicultural are the two engines driving the media today," he says. "It's great to be a part of both." -Michael Malone
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David Campanelli: Finding Ways to Make the Right Impressions
Horizon leader has stayed ahead of challenges in digital's swift evolution
Dave Campanelli, senior VP, national broadcast at horizon media, remembers a time not so long ago before networks offered to sell digital impressions on their programs in addition to television commercials.
"It was evident early on that what was happening in the digital video world was going to converge with what was happening in television at some point, and we needed to be out ahead of that so our advertisers were positioned as strongly as possible," campanelli says. "If I identified Modern Family as the right program to reach the intended target audience, I want to be in Modern Family, whatever platform it's distributed on. that's been our mantra for a long time now."
Back then it meant tracking down ads when the show aired on Hulu or ABC.com. Now, the nets are trying to offer one-stop shopping through fluidity models like Fox's, ABC Unified, or FX's new commercial traveler product. horizon is supporting the efforts. "It's getting there," Campanelli says.
"We're growing with it and learning from the measurement and measurement flaws and how we can make that better."
Campanelli has also been connecting TV with social media. When Geico sponsored History's Vikings, the Geico Gecko was a character on Vikings' Facebook page. "We're trying to surround the viewer not only from a video standpoint, but also from a social standpoint," he says.
The next challenge is finding a better way of dealing with digital video not originating with a network. "how do you get that wide range of video content all corralled under one umbrella and start to evaluate the pros and cons of each? It's difficult right now," Campanelli says. -JL
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Marc DeBevoise: A Knack for Uniques
CBS Interactive GM uses digital initiatives to keep viewers engaged
With so many different options and platforms available, Marc DeBevoise knows the key in the digital sector is finding the right route to driving viewership.
Luckily, DeBevoise-executive VP and GM of entertainment, news and sports for cBs Interactive, overseeing CBS.com, CBSSports.com and CBSNews.com-is something of a human GPS for the stuff. He handles digital distribution strategies and development of original and ancillary digital video content, apps and games across those brands.
"I'm an entertainment junkie, I'm a sports fan, I keep up with the news all the time," says DeBevoise. "Where it all comes together is being a service provider and a center of excellence for the network."
Under DeBevoise's watch, CBS.com was the most-watched network website for the fourth consecutive year and closed this past broadcast season as the net site with the highest count of average monthly unique visitors, according to comscore data. CBSNews.com was also honored with a 2013 Edward R. Murrow award for Best Broadcast television Website.
DeBevoise has led many content initiatives supporting major live events, including the Super Bowl XLVII live stream last February, which attracted a record 3 million unique visitors, and the three-day "Grammy Live," which placed the telecast at Nos. 2 and 3 among all social TV events ever, with 12 million and 18 million social comments for 2012 and 2013, respectively.
DeBevoise says the goal this year is to "really expand our distribution beyond pure online into devices. you see that across all of our brands." toward that end, the CBS iPad app, which launched in March, will unveil a new look before the fall. -Tim Baysinger
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Tamara Franklin: Fording the Streams
Guiding Scripps Networks Interactive to get the best out of TV Everywhere
Tamara Franklin is a business builder for the digital age. At Scripps Networks Interactive, her job is to take the Scripps family of lifestyle networks all over the digital world in smart, innovative and lucrative ways.
So far this year, that has paid off in two major digital developments. In February, Scripps signed its first-ever deal to distribute its programming via a subscription-based streaming service, Amazon Prime Instant Video. That deal gives subscribers access to such popular Scripps Networks fare as Rachael Ray's Week in a Day; Anthony Bourdain: No Reservation; Cupcake Wars; House Hunters; Iron Chef America; Chopped; Man v. Food; Selling New York; Yard Crashers; and Throwdown With Bobby Flay. Also guided by Franklin, scripps in April rolled out several new TV Everywhere apps around HGTV, DIY Network, Food Network, Cooking Channel and Travel Channel. authenticated cable and satellite subscribers can download the ios and android apps at the itunes app store and on Google Play.
Franklin joined Scripps Networks Interactive in March 2009 from Turner Broadcasting Systems, where she served as VP of business development. there she was responsible for non-linear distribution deals with a focus on wireless distribution platforms. Prior to that, she was director of new business for motorola.
"Tammy was instrumental in negotiating and operationalizing two of our most important initiatives-TVE and Amazon Prime," says Henry Ahn, Scripps Interactive Networks executive VP of content distribution and marketing. "But she's not just a hard-hitter when it comes to business; people are drawn to Tammy because she's a gentle, warm soul, an incredible leader and coach to her colleagues." -Paige Albiniak
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Rebecca Glashow: Bridging the Divide
Discovery executive balances needs of traditional and alternative platforms
Discovery Channel roped in major ratings for Nik Wallenda's high-wire walk across the Grand Canyon in June, but Discovery Communications' own Rebecca Glashow has mastered her own kind of tightrope walking as senior VP of digital media distribution.
Tasked with growing the nonfiction media company's program distribution business, Glashow has to balance expanding viewers' access to discovery content on alternative platforms with maintaining the programmer's relationships with traditional MVPDS. She helped transition the company partnering with over-the-top providers, constructing Discovery's first streaming deal with Netflix in 2011 to make library episodes available from shows such as TLC's SayYes to the Dress and Animal Planet's River Monsters, and followed it up in 2012 with a similar deal with Amazon Prime Instant Video.
Going forward, Glashow hopes to leverage the increasing consumer awareness of TV Everywhere to improve Discovery's authenticated experience, continue developing original shortform content and online-only brands to connect to a different audience and different categories and recreate some of Discovery's digital successes in the U.s. in its international business.
Glashow thrives on the fast-moving pace of the digital distribution world. she notes her current three-month maternity leave feels like an eternity in such a space, though her three young kids provide great perspective on future content consumers. "As a mom, brands really resonate," she says. "Now that I have really young kids, and see them [watching content] on my iPhone or iPad, I think more and more about the relevance of our brand or what we're doing on these platforms." -Andrea Morabito
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Lisa Hsia: Turning Audience Passion Into Business Opportunities
Bravo exec leverages reality shows for digital series, interactive viewing
Bravo prides Itself on its audience of "affluencers," who are early adopters of technology. and when it comes to digital strategy, Lisa Hsia has discovered its best to follow their lead.
"What I learned is whatever we did, we were probably behind the audience," says hsia, executive VP of Bravo digital media, who oversees BravoTV.com as well as mobile, apps, gaming, social tV and multiplatform programming.
Hsia started her career in TV news, serving as a producer for diane sawyer and katie couric and later as a VP at NBC News overseeing Today, Dateline and the long-form unit Peacock Productions. In her time as a journalist, Hsia was always learning from her interview subjects, and now she finds herself constantly learning to keep pace with the swiftly evolving digital space. "The harder thing is to predict where the hockey puck is going," she says.
One such success story is the Top Chef companion digital series "Last Chance Kitchen," which is sponsored by Toyota and received four Emmy nominations. "It's very hard to get the collision of a great fan experience with a business opportunity that is also fitting for the brand," Hsia says of "LCK." "That's what we really need to be aiming for." As such, Bravo will do three transmedia series in 2013-another season of "LCK," "Padma's Picks" and "Battle of the Sous Chefs," which airs with Top Chef Masters. Bravo also just rolled out Play Live, a unique participatory viewing experience that adds a gaming layer to live TV with polls, questions and sponsored ads, a technology that took years to build. -AM
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Rachel Lam: Building the Future One Investment at a Time
A decade-long effort in finding and fostering the promise in tech start-ups
As major media companies struggle to keep up with the rapidly changing digital landscape, Rachel Lam, senior VP and group managing director of Time Warner Investments, earned her place on this year's Digital All-Stars list by building bridges between the TV industry and Silicon Valley.
Founded in 2003 with Lam as its first head, the fund takes small strategic investments in tech startups with an eye towards helping Time Warner find new technologies and adapt to a rapidly changing media landscape. "We want to find partners that will help us understand what is up and coming, developments that might be threats to our business and to find interesting technologies to enhance Time Warner's businesses," says Lam.
To do that, Lam, who has an impressive dealmaking resume at major investment banks and Time Warner, will typically survey the operating units about their tech and business needs and then try to invest in companies that fit their priorities. a number of the start-ups will end up supplying technology and services to the Time Warner units, which helps the media giant deploy new developments while adding value to the start-ups.
Since 2003, that has put time Warner's returns in the top quarter of all venture capital companies and made such efforts increasingly important for major TV players. "The last 10 years has seen an extraordinary shift in how technology has influenced the consumption of media and entertainment products," Lam says. "Now you see almost every single media company looking for those kinds of partnerships." -GW
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Christine Merrifield: Breaking New Ground in the Buying Space
Driving upfront deals and managing a dynamic portfolio for MediaVest
At a time when several execs with digital backgrounds have been put in charge of TV buying at big agencies, top broadcast buyer Christine Merrifield finds herself in charge of more than $1 billion in digital budgets as MediaVest USA president of investment and activation.
Merrifield bought digital video when MediaVest National Broadcast Group morphed into a video-buying unit in 2007. Ahe became handson when the agency's digital head, Amanda Richman, went to sibling agency starcom eight months ago. Since then she's been in the middle of some groundbreaking deals on behalf of clients including Procter & Gamble, CocaCola, Microsoft, Walmart and Honda.
Merrifield drove parent company Starcom MediaVest Group's upfront deal with Twitter, designed to take advantage of the socialization of TV, including client-specific research and analysis of multiplatform campaigns.
This year, merrifield ran mediaVest's first digital video upfront, making deals with online players including Google, Yahoo and AOL and moving millions previously earmarked for linear broadcast and cable. "My portfolio is very dynamic," she says. the vendors that benefited were the ones that "manage the conversation on the digital side as far as operational excellence and getting us on the platforms we're looking to put the video on and invest in."
Merrifield is looking ahead to consolidation in the digital media world that would bring together innovative technologies, such as when Twitter acquired research company Bluefin Labs. "I'm looking forward to hearing more about how technology is going to make the road to the consumer more and more seamless and relevant to our brands," she says. -JL
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Danielle Mullin: Getting ABC Family Clued Into the Millennial Mix
Marketing exec pushes widespread use of social media to reach target audience
For ABC Family, launching a new series requires the network to track down and engage with its millennial viewers wherever they are--and in the age of social media, that is everywhere.
Danielle Mullin, ABC Family VP of marketing, took that to the extreme when announcing the Pretty Little Liars spinoff, Ravenswood, in March, using Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook, GetGlue, Twitter, YouTube and ABCFamily.com to release clues for fans to collect so they could piece together the announcement. Without a formal press release, journalists also partook in the "scavenger hunt" to learn the news alongside fans.
"A tweet or Facebook post is no longer enough. you have to be innovative in this space, push the way you're using [social media] in order to drive engagement," Mullin says.
ABC Family's The Fosters recently aired its first season finale that included a highly anticipated marriage, so mullin's team built a Facebook app that called for fans to RSVP to the wedding. during the episode, the app morphed into a guest book; the following day, it turned into a photo album. that kind of personalized interactivity is what builds "lasting loyalty with the fans," Mullin says.
But Mullin knows that even now, when marketing has become a place of 24/7 connectivity, sometimes it is important to log off. "If you have your nose in your BlackBerry, you're not looking around and seeing what our target audience is actually doing with their lives," she says. "It all goes back to real-life experiences." -Lindsay Rubino
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Michael Quigley: All About Making the Right Connections
Helping keep things simple and valuable for customers-and leaving none behind
It's Michael Quigley's job to bridge the complicated connection between consumer and service provider with regard to Turner Broadcasting System's TV Everywhere products, including apps such as Watch CNN, Watch Cartoon Network and the upcoming Watch TNT and Watch TBS.
"TV everywhere presents a tremendous amount of value to our affiliates and our customers at a time when, candidly, customers are really looking at the value of their pay tV offering," says Quigley. "this is us stepping forward and bringing that leadership to our affiliates."
Besides working with cable and satellite operators to make sure viewers know all of their available digital offerings, Quigley works with technologists to confirm that users' authentication experience--which can be a hassle of trying to remember logins and passwords--is simple and quick. "That's something we have been talking about and evangelizing in the industry for the past year or so," Quigley says.
Quigley also has worked with the National Cable Television Cooperative and its rural and small-town members to bring tV everywhere to those systems, which tend to be underserved due to their small size and remote locations.
"Each of those affiliates may not represent a huge footprint, but those customers should still have the same rights and access to these same experiences," he says.
Quigley has been at turner since 2006, focusing on initiatives such as TV Everywhere, dynamic ad serving and other digital efforts. He oversees broadband syndication, digital and social gaming distribution and electronic sell-through for TNT, TBS, Cartoon Network and Adult Swim. -PA
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Dan Suratt: Tapping App Addiction
Digital efforts have also brought more viewers to A+E linear networks
If you're addicted to playing Pawn Stars: The Game on Facebook, blame Dan Suratt. Suratt and his team's digital efforts have yielded big results for A+E, and not just on Facebook. Besides Pawn Stars,a+e has developed games around other popular shows such as Duck Dynasty, Storage Wars and Top Shot. Pawn Stars: The Game has been played more than 475 million times since its 2011 launch; it still gets 800,000-plus unique visitors each month.
"Social games have been an amazing way to keep our fans engaged in our great brands and shows when they're looking for something to do other than watch video," says Suratt.
Suratt and A+E Networks' digital media team also has developed creative apps around content from A+E, History, Lifetime and sister nets H2, the Lifetime Movie Network and Bio.
Watch apps for those nets have been downloaded more than 6 million times and account for a third of the networks' broadband viewing, says Suratt. As a result, in the first four months of 2013, a+e was up 60% year-over-year.
A+E also has developed several creative companion apps, everything from A+E's Swamp People (downloaded more than 3 million times), the History Here app (historical info on 6,000 of points of interest across the U.s.) and the Civil War Today app (which has been inducted into the Apple iPad app Hall of Fame). suratt and his team's focus on the A+E family of websites also has yielded results, with traffic tripling to more than 33 million uniques per month.
"We are no longer a company that just delivers content to our viewers' living rooms," Suratt says. "Our [Watch] apps serve the additional purpose of attracting more viewers to our linear networks." -PA
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Rob Tuck: At The CW, Getting a Handle on the TV and Digital Mix
Excelling by making measurement formulas acceptable for clients
Digital posed a problem for the CW. the network's young viewers were watching its shows online in growing numbers, which is not great news if you're only selling the eyeballs watching on traditional television.
"There was a lot of grumbling at the time in the business-both sales side and agency side-that there was a need to try to figure out a better way of handling TV and digital," says Rob Tuck, executive VP for ad sales at the network. "We took it on ourselves to figure it out."
Three years ago, the CW unveiled its converged approach to selling ads, with packages that include both broadcast and online spots. The trick was boiling down viewing on both platforms into impressions broken down by demographic and making the formula acceptable to agencies and their clients.
"We won't be able to control the technology. We've just got to go along with it. And then ultimately where that content goes, we've got to make sure our model for measurement meets the needs of the agencies," Tuck says. "I think we've been very successful in doing so."
Keeping up has been a challenge, but it's important to find ways to get messages to consumers not watching traditional television. and once that's under control, there may be opportunities to take advantage of interactivity and addressability. "Once we feel it is doable and useful for our clients, we will definitely be there," Tuck says. "If you can keep it simple and somewhat turnkey, then it becomes a win-win for us, our clients and the audience that's watching on the digital platforms." -JL
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