MyNetworkTV's Mr. Fix-It


MyNetworkTV (MNT) President Greg Meidel hasn't slowed down in his aggressive bid to overhaul programming.

After arriving at the financially ailing mini-network in January, Meidel had reduced its ratings-starved scripted telenovela programming from six nights to two by March. He replaced it with higher-rated ultimate fighting, movies and reality specials.

Last week, the executive accelerated plans to go to regularly scheduled reality series by June. Prolific reality gurus Mark Burnett (Survivor), John Langley (Cops) and Bruce Nash (World's Scariest/Most Dangerous...) are among those who have discussed projects.

Meanwhile, Meidel scrapped a large-scale dog-and-pony upfront presentation next month in favor of one-on-one sessions with buyers.

Taking a short breather, he discusses with B&C's Jim Benson the next steps in MNT's transformation, his goal of higher revenue and why he's in such a hurry.

Why keep low-rated telenovelas on the air throughout the summer and fall when your newer programming is working better?

Tuesday [April 25] was our first night without telenovelas. We went from walking to running very quickly, having gone from six nights to one night of novelas in just three months. By late fall, we will be finished with them.

When I got here in January, the mission statement was “fix it.” We're in a unique situation. I was here in the early years when Fox went from two to three to five nights to getting the NFL. We have transformed the [MNT] schedule at a very rapid pace, and we still have a long way to go.

Do you think buyers will be more inclined to give you network rather than syndication ad rates with the schedule changes?

Our goal is to monetize the primetime schedule as best we can. We want to go after primetime CPMs, but first, we have to demonstrate to advertisers that we can deliver the ratings and demographics that they are looking for. Our revenues are up substantially over a couple months ago as a result of our improved ratings.

How do you attract A-list reality producers like Mark Burnett?

There are only so many nights on the other networks. Mark has an endless supply of ideas, and we're looking to someone with the credentials to create a breakout hit for us. [Reality producers] want to get their shows on the air, and we have beachfront property.

Is MNT more flexible than other networks in allowing reality producers to keep potentially lucrative ancillary rights?

I don't think it is a matter of trying to corner digital or ancillary rights but figuring out how to have the ability to create great content for News Corp. and Fox. They are leaders in embracing new technologies and have very specific strategies in that area.

A lot of the content we are developing is designed to generate revenue in new technologies. Our reality shows have the ability to be streamed as entire episodes or short [clips]. They lend themselves to streaming to the Internet and links on Websites.

We are learning that the more content you can get out there on whatever platform, the more you grow the brands. This is the future of our business. For us to stay alive and be a growing entity in the broadcast world, we need to take advantage of all of these platforms.

Are you looking to marry MyNetwork with MySpace in any way?

No, but if there is an opportunity to work together, then absolutely. It would have to be right for them and right for us.