Ireland To Broadcasters: Online Is Your Space

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Forget MySpace. Online video should be our space. At least that was the message from NBC Universal Television Stations Group President Jay Ireland.

Ireland, on a panel at the Maximum Service Television association conference in Washington Tuesday, told his audience that while the print press owned the Web space when it was primarily a text business, "shame on us"  if broadcasters did not own the online video space now.

In addition to running the station group, Ireland is responsible for NBBC, the company's new Web syndication effort that will provide a clearinghouse for station partners to share content and ad revenue.

He said that broadcasting doesn't mean a signal off a tower, it means being in the video content business wherever that takes them.

Asked whether stations should feel threatened by increasing network efforts to put content on multiple platforms, the four station group heads on the panel all agreed that "threatened" was too strong a word.

Paul McTear, President of Raycom, said that each network was different, but that in general, the initiatives into the Web and mobile had provided an "excellent" marketing platform to the network shows, though he said he thought it would be foolish for the networks to evolve to a Web delivery model, saying stations were the networks key marketing partner.

Ireland agreed that he thought multi-platform was essentially a way to drive viewership to the programming on the stations, saying that repeats aren't working any more, so that broadcasters are now getting only one shot at consumers and need to drive as many eyeballs to that one shot as possible. He didn't see iPod viewing as a threat, saying nobody with a 50-inch set is going to choose the small screen.

James Yager, CEO of Barrington Broadcasting, said he was more puzzled and amused than threatened, saying he didn't see the Housewives via iPod as a model that was going to drain viewers. He also said affiliates best insurance policy against network remaking the delivery model were their own owned-and-operated stations.

Paul Karpowicz, President of Meredith Broadcast Group, said that he thought initially it was a case of networks chasing each other onto the Web, and "I'm not sure how much real thought went into those programs," but that he understood they needed to "try everything." But he said he was of the school that said any exposure was beneficial.

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