A roundtable of TV industry experts, touting increased opportunity amid the fast-changing media landscape, exuded typical optimism about
TV's future during the Hollywood Radio & Television Society and Academy
of Television Arts & Sciences' "State of the Industry" luncheon, June 23 in Beverly Hills,
But toward the end of the talk, panelist Tim Spengler,
President of media agency Initiative U.S., appeared not to be buying such a
rosy picture. He threw a cold shot of realism and caution into the discussion,
calling the dialogue "a little bit Pollyana."
Ad spending in primetime continues to be flat, yet "it costs
more to turn the lights on," Spengler said. So "the business is going to have
to figure out where the rest of the [dollars] will come from."
The good thing, he said, is brands still need TV.
Panelist Kevin Reilly, President of Entertainment for Fox,
backed up his optimism with his belief that consumers continue to display great
enthusiasm for TV content, as evidenced by record numbers for Super Bowl
viewership and response to new shows such as Fox's Glee and ABC's Modern
Family. He said he sees broadcast networks continuing to be a viable
business. "We could do this panel 5, 10 years from now and there will be
a broadcast model," he said, qualifying that with, "I can't say there will be
five broadcast networks."
Reilly also noted that there is "an ongoing level of
experimentation" with regard to what he calls the "two M's"--measurement and
monetization--and that lately there is a bit of an effort to try to "get the
genie back in the bottle" when it comes to providing consumers with ubiquity of
content. "We've met the enemy, and it's us," Reilly said, explaining that the
industry has made some of the problems it is now grappling with, such as
devaluing content by giving it away for free. But he says, "we learn from it."
The panel also included Conan O'Brien's lawyer Leigh
Brecheen, partner, head of television, Bloom Hergott Diemer Rosenthal
LaViolette Feldman Schenkman & Goodman, LLP; ABC Family President Paul Lee;
Sony Pictures TV President Steve Mosko; and ICM President Chris Silbermann.
THR's Kim Masters moderated the event, which was held at the Beverly Hilton