The growing presence of television on multiple platforms is a common challenge among industry executives, but the industry's measurement systems have not yet caught up to the shift, panelists said at Tuesday's Hollywood Radio and Television Society "State of the Industry" Newsmaker Luncheon in Beverly Hills, Calif.
"If we could measure it, we can monetize it," said Jeff Bader, EVP, planning, scheduling & distribution, ABC Entertainment Group, commenting on the lack of data available for content streamed on platforms other than a standard television. The current measurement system, he said, is "generic."
"You don't know who is watching ... advertisers don't know what environment their ads are showing up in." Bader explained. But as for a solution to the problem, he says, "It's just evolving so fast. How do you come up with a measurement system for something that you don't know what it's going to be in a year?"
Michael Kassan, chairman and CEO, MediaLink, likens the evolution to the shift in telephone usage. "Look at the different between having only a mobile number and a landline," Kassan said. "We're in that same conundrum as it relates to how you watch [TV]. Apple TV, as a device, is turning my TV into a computer."
The industry is experiencing a generational shift, in which the most sought-after demographics are those that see multiple-screen television viewing as a norm. "How you reach teens, young adults ... becomes a bigger and bigger challenge, especially given the ubiquity of their usage of multiple screens and their definition of television, which is not the device through which programming is delivered but the programming experience itself," said Jordan Levin, CEO, Generate.
Other businesses have been cashing in on the growing online audience. Netflix, for example, has announced the development of original content. The panel agreed that Netflix remains a "friend" to the industry in terms of its relationship as a buyer, but Doug Herzog, president, MTV Networks Entertainment Group, said, "In terms of them getting into the production business, we'd rather they spend more money buying stuff."
Kevin Beggs, president, Lionsgate Television, said that as a supplier, he views Netflix's House of Cards and more possible original productions as a positive, as "the more buyers the better."
"[There is] the excitement of new buyers in the market and every day...Neflix is another one," Beggs said. "That's probably good. It puts a little pressure on the pay competitors from a supply standpoint."
The consensus among the panelists was that television has become more consumer-driven. With so many viewing options from which to choose, the company that has the ability to keep up with the evolving industry is the one that will prosper.
As to the future of the ever-changing television industry, Sean Perry, partner and co-department head, non-scripted TV, WME Entertainment, said, "I think in four to five years we'll be doing a tremendous amount of transaction on what we view as television."
One technology was noticeably absent from the panel discussion, however. "No one's mentioned 3D!" Bader said, adding that in his view, interactive television will become the standard among TV buyers.