When Steve Lanzano joined trade association TVB as president and CEO in January 2010, its annual Forward conference, then known as the Forecast conference, was seeing 200 attendees for its half-day event.
Fast forward five-plus years, and the conference, which takes place Sept. 17, is offering a full-day program in a new venue for the third year in a row, continually moving the event space to accommodate its increasing attendance. The conference has already outgrown last year’s venue, Times Square’s Edison Ballroom; a TVB-record 500 people, according to Lanzano, are set to converge at the Waldorf Astoria this week.
The location isn’t the only thing different about Forward 2015. The conference has added a pair of new panels: “A SWOT Analysis of Television” and “Big Data.”
“It’s a different type of panel than we’ve done in the past,” Lanzano said of the SWOT panel—SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. He said it is designed to help attendees when they make their business plans at the start of the year.
Meanwhile, “Big Data” will be something like a Ted Talk from Marketing Evolution founder and CEO Rex Briggs, according to Lanzano. “We believe the industry needs to get into big data to show ROI,” Lanzao said. “We thought that this was the perfect time to do our first session on big data—what it is, how it works.”
The opening keynote of the conference will be from Michael Wolff, a longtime media business observer whose latest book, Television Is the New Television, mounts a contrarian argument that traditional media companies are more than holding their own vs. digital upstarts. During lunch, in addition to B&C’s presentation of Broadcaster of the Year to Raycom Media president and CEO Paul McTear (see main story, page 11), there will be a taped Q&A with Michael Kassan, in which the MediaLink chairman and CEO will help explain why so many big companies are putting their business in review and weigh the pros and cons of issues like OTT and digital.
The final panel of the day, dubbed a political “super session,” will unfold just one day after CNN’s Republican primary debate. CBS News’ John Dickerson will moderate a discussion between Democratic campaign consultant and Schoen Consulting founder Douglas E. Schoen and Brian Baker of the conservative PAC Ending Spending.
“Everyone wants to know how much is going to be spent and where it’s going to be spent,” Lanzano said, adding that with two high-powered political operatives on stage together, “we could get some fireworks.”
One other noteworthy addition to this year’s conference is TVB’s partnership with the International Radio and Television Society, which does fellowship programs with college students studying media. TVB will give several of their interns, who all have on-air experience, the chance to introduce sessions via video. Forward indeed.