B&C has long published an annual roster called the Next Wave of Leaders. This year, we decided to take the title a bit more literally and organize it by age—with a nod to Nielsen, we call it 18 Under 34. These pros all are making a mark throughout the industry landscape before the age of 34. Across the realms of station groups, social media, distribution, marketing and programming, they are disproving the cliches about fussy millennials. They are not only engaged in their day-to-day businesses—they are helping redefine what TV is in the 21st century.
VP, Drama Development, Sony Pictures Television
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Going to the premiere of Bloodline this spring. After working so hard on the first season, it was incredibly rewarding to see how blown away the audience was.
PREDICTION: Content companies will gain more of an edge as new digital outlets pop up.
Senior VP, Client and Consumer Insights, Turner Broadcasting
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: As one of the architects of Turner’s advanced advertising suite of products, which have included Turner Incite, TargetingNOW, AudienceNOW and roiNOW, Aversano has helped to establish Turner as the leader in data and analytics-driven advertising in television.
PREDICTION: All too often our industry is talking about competing platforms—TV, digital, social, mobile. What will change most is that focus. We will all move to focusing on client outcomes first. Planning, targeting and measuring will all be optimized for what matters most—our clients’ business outcomes.
Digital Media Agent, UTA
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Watching every time a digital client evolves from a really talented and creative young adult into a sophisticated businessperson at the precipice of a great and longterm career in media.
PREDICTION: Mobile, mobile, mobile. There will be significantly better mobile monetization opportunities for digital content creators.
VP of Social Media Activations and Earned Media, Viacom Velocity
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: The time I found myself casually washing my hands in a restroom next to Beyoncé at the 2014 MTV VMAs when she won the Vanguard Award. Bow down.
PREDICTION: One of the biggest drivers of change will be the growing symbiotic relationship between television and social media. As these two worlds continue to integrate, I think we’ll increasingly see social media’s influence on linear, while social media stars will take a cue from television and adopt a more linear approach with things like appointment viewing and monetization. As this dynamic continues to evolve, it will be exciting for us all to find new ways to maximize and measure the potential.
VP, Director of Digital, Spark
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: A moment that I still reminisce about with great pride occurred 11 years ago on one of my first campaigns. I helped develop the idea, strategy and digital execution for Nintendogs, which was later shortlisted at Cannes for “Best Use of the Internet.” For me, it was a great intro to the media business because it speaks to the power of ideas and proves how anyone can bring something new and innovative to help impact business.
PREDICTION: The industry will truly be screen-agnostic. The “first screen” will be the screen in front of you, and consumer expectations will continue to increase for content that’s informative, entertaining and relevant to them. Data will help us tell the story of each person in order to change how we speak to consumers with these uniquely customized experiences.
Director, HBO Programming
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Working with the Game of Thrones team. Seldom do you have the opportunity to work with a group of people whose talent is only surpassed by the measure of their character.
PREDICTION: The best industry brands, from networks to content makers, will continue to emerge but eventually will once again aggregate in a new delivery format.
VP, Content Acquisition, Hulu
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: At this year’s Hulu upfront, we announced the last few in a string of deals I’d led over the course of the past year—AMC, Seinfeld, Adult Swim/Cartoon Network, FX, Empire and others. And along with those announcements came a feeling like the perception of Hulu fundamentally changed, and that I had really contributed to that.
PREDICTION: Advertising is ripe for change—more and more eyeballs have moved to digital, and the dollars are starting to catch up. It’s a space that allows for massive innovation in ad formats and targeting. I just saw an ad on YouTube that said, “You can’t skip this ad, because it’s already over.” Many people think the use of native advertising is beautiful rather than aggravating. There’s a huge opportunity for companies to reach their potential customers in a more relevant way than ever before.
Head of Broadcast Partnerships, Twitter
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: The creators and EPs of The Simpsons are comic geniuses whom I deeply admire, and watching them apply their talents to the @TheSimpsons Twitter handle as we brainstormed innovative social content was both inspiring and hilarious.
PREDICTION: It’s probably expected, but I think Twitter has significantly changed the way many people watch TV and will continue to do so. While I can’t predict innovations like Periscope and the other new experiences to come, I know we will continue to surface the best TV content and enhance the social experience as a complement to TV viewing.
Meghan Hooper White
VP, Program Acquisitions, Lifetime (A&E Networks)
CAREER HIGHLIGHT:A Deadly Adoption—working with Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig to make their Lifetime movie dream come true is a highlight on many levels. Also meeting En Vogue when they were shooting An En Vogue Christmas. That was an epic moment for the teenager in me.
PREDICTION: The biggest change over the next few years has to come from measurement. The issue is that we as an industry have operated with one measurement system, Nielsen, for years. And now, although we do have measurement on most platforms, it’s not uniform, and it’s not solely Nielsen. We need to figure out a way to efficiently capture how and where people are consuming video so we can properly monetize original content. It is an extremely exciting time in the business. But as we are all aware, we are at a critical moment to ensure we are creating a business model that can sustain for the next 10, 20 years. Viewing habits have changed, and the research needs to catch up. This must happen in the next five years, ideally much sooner.
Manager of Network Program Publicity, Crown Media Family Networks
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: It’s been a privilege to work with such high-quality talent and executives on a daily basis, where I’ve been able to take ownership of launching incredible programming and help make a positive impact on the network and its loyal viewers.
PREDICTION: Multiscreen viewing will be even more present and new platforms will continue to emerge. But while viewer habits evolve, having strong brand integrity and meaningful content at the helm will always make the difference.
Television Literary Agent, CAA
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: I feel a tremendous sense of pride when a client I have worked with since the very beginning of their career gets their first show on the air or reaches the showrunner ranks, and I have had the great pleasure of experiencing that more in this past year than ever.
PREDICTION: Technology has paved the way for big changes in television distribution. Netflix inspired new [over-the-top] outlets to get into the scripted business and today, there are a tremendous number of great shows being delivered to consumers through the Internet. HBO and Showtime’s streaming services are also real game-changers for the distribution business. These initiatives will help broaden the networks’ consumer base, reaching younger viewers who have never previously had a cable television subscription. I believe that over the next five years, we will see most broadcasters following suit.
Anchor, WTSP Tampa (Tegna)
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: To be anchoring the No. 1 11 p.m. newscast in the Tampa Bay market and be accepted in the community, which has welcomed me with open arms, allowing me to speak to organizations and serve as a role model to others by sharing the importance of confidence and self-esteem with young people.
PREDICTION: The way we consume and deliver information will continue to evolve. But important stories still need to be told. And storytellers need to have a better understanding on how to best use the strengths of different platforms to more effectively tell their stories.
Integrated Marketing Manager, WPIX, New York (Tribune)
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: A bold decision to move across the country to take a job in New York at PIX11 as marketing coordinator in the station’s sales department, rising quickly to campaign manager and then to head of interactive sales as integrated marketing manager, developing macro-strategies, employing campaigns across media—television, mobile, display, video, social, search, etc.—and enhancing promotions via strategic extensions.
PREDICTION: Our viewers are going to demand more control over how and when they consume our content both on-air and online. This means not a digital-first strategy, but a mobile-first strategy. This is a huge opportunity for those at traditional broadcast stations, as we have an existing, personal relationship with our viewers, built on the decades of trust they have placed in us. Data will play a crucial role as we grow and move forward. We must adapt fast and be more interactive, more mobile and more immediate.
Social TV Project Manager, Discovery Communications
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: In May as everyone was focused on the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team replied to a Tweet from @Discovery regarding the height of emperor penguins. I replied with a little friendly ribbing about their elimination from the playoffs. To my surprise, the response garnered more than 30,000 retweets and captured the attention of more than a dozen major media outlets, [including] ESPN and the New York Post.
PREDICTION: I’m excited for how new platforms and technologies allow us to connect with our viewers in deeper and bolder ways—from Meerkat to virtual reality. As we continue to engage fans with the shows they love across screens of all sizes, there is a huge opportunity for Discovery.
Head of Digital Development, Condé Nast Entertainment
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Collaborating with Spike Jonze to direct a musical medley at the first-ever YouTube Music Awards.
PREDICTION: The literacy of videomaking, aptitude for storytelling and understanding of audience-building will only increase for more and more people armed with a camera, a dream and a lot of free time. The line between audience and competition is going to get a lot blurrier.
VP, Digital Media Business Development, NFL
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Former finance and venture capital professional, passionate about the intersection of technology and sports content, excited about delivering engaging experiences to NFL fans.
PREDICTION: The availability, options and rate of adoption of direct-to-consumer subscription video services [will change]. Households will be comfortable having multiple subscriptions that coexist, each with unique value propositions.
Director of Development, FX Networks
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Working closely with some of Hollywood’s best talent, Wandell has been instrumental in developing FX Networks’ slate of comedy and drama series for the past four years. He credits include the acclaimed drama The Americans; next-generation comedies You’re the Worst, Married, Man Seeking Woman and The Comedians; and pilots for Donald Glover’s rap-themed comedy Atlanta, John Singleton’s narco thriller, Snowfall, and the post-apocalyptic animated series Cassius & Clay.
PREDICTION: The way we consume and develop content will evolve dramatically with the continued emergence of new technologies and platforms. With that, creators will have new tools at their disposal to tell stories in ways we can’t even imagine.
President, Collective Digital Studio
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Watching Collective Digital Studio’s first Newfront presentation earlier this year to a full house of attendees was truly one of the highlights in my career. It not only represents the growth and evolution of our company but the industry overall, and it was an unforgettable experience for me.
PREDICTION: In a relatively short amount of time, we have seen new players like Vine, Snapchat and even Periscope dramatically change the way audiences consume media. As new platforms continue to emerge, there are huge opportunities for content creators to continue to express their creativity and authentically connect with their fans in new and different ways—all driven by video.