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HRTS Panel: Broadcast Execs Should Focus on the Consumer - Broadcasting & Cable

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
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With the growing amount of new platforms
and services and increased competition, the broadcast business needs to evolve
its current model and change its approach in order to be successful.

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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