Slogging through the media blizzard

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Will Internet kill the video star?

That was the essential question posed by Glynn Brailsford, president and CEO of Promax, who opened the panel on marketing in a million-channel universe with an updated animation music video of the classic Buggles tune.

There was a range of opinion on just how well the video stars - as in broadcast and cable networks - are managing to coexist with the Internet and use it to push their respective brands.

Brian Seth Hurst, managing director of convergent media for Pittard Sullivan, argued that the video stars have shot themselves in the feet thus far. "If you look at the network's Web sites, all the emotional branding is left behind," he said.

Hurst slammed NBC's online performance during the Sydney Summer Olympics for confusing things by launching NBCi in the middle of the games and not providing streaming video highlights (actually a function of an International Olympics Committee stricture). And he said CBS blew its Web play on its Big Brother reality series by not exploiting the groundswell of Web community interest in the show, and creating a site that was hard to navigate.

Jon Helmrich, senior vice president of international development for E!, claimed the consciousness at his company is very Web-friendly: "We've all kind of come to the realization that whether it's satellite-delivered or on the Web, it's all about building our profile."

Having reversed the usual gestation sequence by developing a Web site preceding its print publication, Inside.com is now in development on a TV show, Deanna Brown, president and CEO of Powerful Media, revealed. She said Powerful saw its play in providing a wealth of information with speed. "This marketplace was incredibly confused with too much information. There was an opportunity for somebody to organize it."

Mark Stroman, senior marketing agent of The Endeavor Agency, said the rules in network TV advertising are being rewritten. "Convergence equals leverage," he said, adding, "Advertisers are going to follow wherever the programming goes."

But Lee Hunt, vice president of entertainment for Razorfish, described the current media environment as "the eye of the hurricane" with no predictable resolution. "The real issue isn't barbarians at the gate," he said. "It's the barbarians as the gatekeepers."
Hunt argued that the gate-keeping role once occupied by the FCC, TV set makers and cable and satellite providers has now been effectively supplanted by interactive program guides and personal video recorders. "My prime time begins when I turn on my TV. We're shattering the linear model of programming."
He also suggested that the Web isn't really an effective conduit to reach the broad-based audiences networks are trying to draw to their Web sites.

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