From consumer habits to technology to newsroom operations to casting, this year’s Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame inductees — and the teams they lead — say they have witnessed more change, competition and choice over the past 12 months than they have ever seen.
As we all know, necessity breeds innovation. So as we do every year, we asked the great innovators of today, our inductees, one crystal-ball question: “What is the biggest thing you learned in 2013 that will inform your decision-making in 2014?”
What we found was a group of leaders who, as one might guess, are encouraged and inspired by the nonstop evolution of the television industry. Edited excerpts of their responses follow.
Media is being consumed in smaller and smaller bites. Programmers need to tailor their content to this format while also using it to promote longerform pieces.
Click HERE for Bornstein's full Hall of Fame profile.
It’s what I’ve always known, which is the rate of change and the speed of technology has to inform your decisions in this business. I’ve never seen a faster rate of change in our business in 38 years of doing this. The rate of change around technology, and the adoption of technology with the consumer—in our case, the audience—is amazing. You can never stay ahead of it, but you have to stay abreast of it.
Click HERE for Falco's full Hall of Fame profile.
In our business, we need to reinvent ourselves and learn new skills on an almost daily basis. The one constant reinforced throughout the year was that the demand for content continues to grow, not only for our big franchises like The Hunger Games but for our specialized content like Pantelion Films’ Instructions Not Included, the highest-grossing Spanish-language film ever in the U.S., and Codeblack Films’ Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain. We also continued to diversify our television business during the year—building on our strength in producing content for cable networks, expanding into broadcast network series, continuing to pioneer new formats like our 10+90 series and maintaining our commitment to innovation by creating original programming for digital platforms.
We want to continue delivering great content to a range of audiences next year. If we remain nimble and open to opportunities, there are virtually no limits on who we can partner with and how we can shape these partnerships to reach our audiences.
Click HERE for Feltheimer's full Hall of Fame profile.
This past year reaffirmed something that I already knew: It’s the chemistry of the hosts that makes or breaks a talk show like ours, and producing to their strengths creates the moments that will continue to make this show a success.
Click HERE for the full Live With Kelly & Michael profile.
Discovery Education is in a unique position to help school districts make this shift from print to digital. And what we’re doing is transforming education to inspire, to engage, to allow students to satisfy their curiosity. What’s been great is working with school districts across the country, creating wonderful learning opportunities in K-12 schools, because of the way we’re transforming teaching and learning.
And you’re also meeting students in the modality they want to learn in. They no longer want to learn from a printed, static textbook; they want to be engaged. This also includes the notion of personalized learning, where you can provide different assets to different learners. And if I fast-forward my career, what I’ve been able to do over the last five or six years is take what we’ve done on the television side to K-12 classrooms.
Click HERE for Goodwyn's full Hall of Fame profile.
The light bulb went on for me early this year— this excitement about where the industry is going and where our company is going and where we can go in this multiplatform and content world. We’re putting our hands around the onenewsroom concept, where we are one newsroom with all these platforms, all this content, and we need to center it. That is going to take us into the future. It’s like a passion was lit and our whole company is driving down that road with such enthusiasm— it’s not like we have to sell it.
People in the business or people not necessarily in the business say, ‘What are you thinking, is TV [viable]’? I’m going, absolutely! We have mobile and [other] products that we can involve ourselves with and what the networks are doing—what ABC and Fox are doing with mobile and finally figuring how we’re going to get out to [the] masses. I think that’s the most exciting part of our business, and how we manage it and monetize it and what our business plan will be—that’s our future. I feel the passion! We will create our future and we need to lead our employees and company into that future.
Click HERE for McDermott's full Hall of Fame profile.
We are always rewarded most when we take creative risks and business risks as opposed to when we play it safe. The wisdom is knowing when you’re taking a smart risk and when you’re just doing something that’s insane. I learned it again this year when we were able to license Arrested Development to Netflix years after it went off the air, and we were able to bring 24 back to Fox. Both those shows were enormous creative risks at the time….Somehow seeing them sold again years after they came off the air reminds me that when you take these risks, generally good things happen.
Click HERE for Newman's full Hall of Fame profile.
The velocity of change is self-evident to everybody. There’s a lot of options for people and the bar is higher now than ever. We’ve lived very comfortably with competition for a long time. There’s more competition now than certainly any other time in my tenure. And what that means is we need to play our best game all the time. But that’s a challenge we welcome, and that we’re comfortable with. And the reason for that is not only the quality of the people at this network who are working to do that, but the enormous array of talent that wants to be a part of working with us. That is the greatest thing we have going for us: the power of this brand, the lure of this brand and the talent of the people inside to help nurture it.
Click HERE for Plepler's full Hall of Fame profile.
The desire of consumers to have more and more TV choices continues. I saw that back on Capitol Hill in the mid-1980s when we were trying to [incentivize] the cable industry to expand the number of channels, and I saw it as the number of channels grew to from 30 to 100 and maybe 800 today. With TV Everywhere and on-demand and over-the-top content, the quest by consumers to have more and more choice continues unabated.
But putting that choice into an organized form where viewers can access and find the choices that matter to them in a world of infinite choices is more important than ever. So responding to that quest for more and more choices and the desire to have it presented in the easiest and most accessible way is what we are focusing on.
Click HERE for Rogers' full Hall of Fame profile.
The biggest thing that I’ve learned is that we do have to constantly be looking to what’s next. And we have to make sure that we are ahead of the curve in getting a jump on whatever the technology is, whether it’s a new tablet or it’s the way Nielsen is going to measure. There isn’t the luxury of time anymore, and I think that as we go into 2014, we will make sure that we’re starting our conversations with our clients and our agencies earlier than normal. If that means pushing them to get meetings before the planning cycle, we will, just because of the changes in technology— when I say technology, I’m lumping everything in—but also the way they’re buying, whether they’re including digital in their network buys or not. And all of the research that we’re hearing about now…we like to make sure that we understand it, and I think it’s our job as a content provider to make sure that our clients and their constituents understand it as well.
Click HERE for Ross' full Hall of Fame profile.
I think it comes down to our [Xfinity] X1 operating system. We built a great user interface, Internet functionality, like search recommendations, and lo and behold the customers discover and consume more content, so our VOD views are up over 20%. The next step forward for us is we’ve got X2 already, which will be deployed in some markets in the fourth quarter. And again it’s a cloud-based platform that makes TV smarter and it delivers content from TV, apps, the Web and social media across the screens in one integrated experience.
It’s very exciting and it seems somewhat logical and intuitive, but we’ve found that if you deliver a great user experience to people, they’ll consume more content. There’s so much good content out there now that it’s great to be able to get people to it and make it relevant to what they want to watch. So in 2014 we’re going to accelerate deployment of the platform, and I think we’ll learn a lot along the way.
Click HERE for Smit's full Hall of Fame profile.
I’ve always gotten off on learning new stuff, even things that may not help me in my daily life; just the fact that I have that knowledge pleases me. Nowadays, at my age, it pleases me even more if I can remember what the hell that knowledge is. But there’s a joy that comes from discovery. And there are still these great areas of discovery that remain out there. We’re learning new things all the time. It’s fascinating. Just having it helps.
What I’ve discovered is a lot of our viewers feel the same way as I do about the acquisition of knowledge and about learning, and it doesn’t stop with old age. Older people who have nothing left to prove, who are retired, who don’t need the money and will not have any opportunity to use that knowledge, still derive a great deal of joy from acquiring it—from clues on our program. On the other side of the coin, we sometimes discover things that don’t thrill us that much…like finding out that artificial grass can melt under certain conditions. So I may have to rethink getting rid of my natural front lawn.
Click HERE for Trebek's full Hall of Fame profile.
[I’ve learned] that content is king. There is an appetite for as much great content as we can possibly produce. That’s our mandate: Pick the best creators, provide an environment where they can do their best work, the most original work, where they feel supported in creative swings because the marketplace is strong right now and we are very well-positioned to take advantage of that.
Click HERE for Walden's full Hall of Fame profile.