A panel of television executives debated the merits of the various digital distribution systems emerging these days, and agreed that each represents a unique opportunity to monetize valuable content. As it had been at other OnScreen Media Summit sessions earlier in the day, Netflix occupied much of the discussion. Ken Werner, president of Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution, and Scott Koondel, senior VP of CBS Corp. and president of distribution at CBS Television Distribution, spoke about working together to make CW programs available on Netflix's DVD/Web delivery platform.
Werner called it a "great collaboration" that enabled a wider pool of viewers to catch up on serialized shows such as Gossip Girl that they may have come late to. "I think the CW has a very unique place out there," Werner said of the network's struggle to own its niche.
Bob DeBitetto, president and general manager of A&E and Bio, said Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, among other alternative distribution platforms, spell opportunity for the holders of vast content troves. They're also "phenomenal marketing for us," he added.
The panel, moderated by B&C executive editor Melissa Grego, was a lively one, with Koondel and DeBitetto often sparring the way one might expect they do in negotiations over off-net programs. "You should see the way they treat me when we're doing a deal," quipped DeBitetto.
The trio cautioned against the potential audience erosion of a show spread too thinly across too many platforms; mentioned were CSI on Spike and Criminal Minds on A&E.
Yet all agreed that the ever-evolving nature of video distribution foretold big opportunity for 2012.
"The world will not come to an end," Koondel said of those predicting the demise of traditional television. "This ecosystem will continue to thrive."