Technology, content find common ground

Biz forced to balance delivery, programming

Network and studio executives, as well as creators of some of the world’s most popular shows, will gather today for the first annual TV Summit at the Renaissance Hotel in Hollywood. The event is sponsored by Variety and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

In an industry where not only is content changing at lightning speed, but in its delivery to consumers as well, dozens of high-level showbizzers will discuss such issues as how quickly networks can adjust to viewers’ preferences, the best ways to market programs, how to properly brand a network and what are the secrets to having a show that’s both a critical hit and a ratings winner.

Among those scheduled to participate include HBO programming topper Michael Lombardo, Disney Channels Worldwide president Carolina Whitecap, “Grey’s Anatomy” exec producer Shonda Rhimes and UTA managing partner Jay Sures.

For more on Variety’s TV Summit, click here

Are we too worried about the new ways of content delivery and not focusing enough on content itself?

Rick Haskins, exec VP, marketing and brand strategy, the CW: “Content will always be the driver no matter on what distribution platform it is placed. Because of this, we’re constantly keeping our eye on the content first and foremost. We then figure out the best way for the user to experience it on both current and emerging platforms. Distribution platforms get a lot of attention because that’s all about the new technology and new devices that are continually hitting the market, but in the end, it’s really the content — like hit TV shows — that the viewers are ultimately seeking out and moves our business forward.”

As the head of a TV studio, what is your biggest concern right now?

David Madden, president, Fox TV Studios: “Very simply, our biggest concern right now is how we continue to monetize our programming. The marketplace is changing so quickly, and we have to be extremely nimble and adapt, almost in real time, as it does. Even as we continue to have the international community in our sights for our scripted series, the DVD business is shrinking. There may be other digital opportunities and platforms emerging, but it’s a moving target. So we have to strategize to keep our creative and our financial goals aligned.”

Do TV programs have a responsibility to help instigate social change?

Lisa Paulsen, CEO, Entertainment Industry Foundation: “Television certainly has an incredible opportunity to instigate social change, and the impact is breathtaking when programmers successfully take advantage of it. Right after a ‘Parks and Recreation’ episode depicted the nonprofit Kaboom’s construction of a new playground, for example, the number of people inquiring about volunteering with the group jumped 300%. Also, network and cable executives’ donation of airtime for the Stand Up to Cancer “roadblock” specials helped rally public contributions for a new model of cancer research with great promise in the fight against the disease. Marshaling the entertainment industry’s resources to facilitate social change is at the heart of EIF’s mission, so we’re honored any time we can support TV’s efforts to do that.”

In a 500-cable universe, how do you make your network brand stand out?

Henry Schleiff, president-g.m, Investigation Discovery: “We are consistently successful because every series hinges on our unique proposition to our audience, telling you an incredible story. From that solid base, we start to stretch our brand and do some things that are unusual, unexpected or even outrageous, like our use of titillating titles (‘Who the Bleep Did I Marry’). That adds your layer of buzz. I’m a huge believer in breakthrough PR, unique partnerships, grassroots campaigns and must-see marketing.”

In launching a new show, what’s the most important component of your marketing strategy?

Ellen Stone, senior VP, marketing, Bravo: “Bravo is a buzz marketer whose goal is to drive the cultural conversation with our audience of affluent, educated, influential and tech-savvy consumers. We approach all our marketing efforts from the ground up, identifying the best tools such as traditional, non-traditional, social media, location-based platforms that will engage our consumers on a deeper level with the brand and ultimately create brand ambassadors.”


8:30-9:15 a.m.

9:15-9:30 a.m.
Introductory remarks

9:30-10 a.m.
Research presentations

10-10:15 a.m.
Content study presented by AOL

10:15-11:15 a.m.
State of the TV Industry
Panelists include Michael Lombardo, HBO; Michael Wright, TNT/TBS; David Madden, Fox TV Studios; Jay Sures, UTA

11:15-11: 45 a.m.
Networking break

11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
The New Revenue and Delivery Models: Keeping Viewers Satisfied and Meeting the Bottom Line
Panelists include Rick Haskins, the CW; Zander Lurie, CBS; Chris Long, DirecTV

12:30-1:15 p.m.
The Rebranded Channel
Panelists include Kevin Kay, Spike TV; Christina Norman, OWN; Henry Schleiff, Investigation Discovery; Diane Robina, TV Guide Network; Carolina Lightcap, Disney Channels Worldwide

1:15-2:30 p.m.

2:30-3:15 p.m.
Casting a Wide Net: Marketing and Extending Content Across the Platforms
Panelists include Ellen Stone, Bravo; Linda Schupack, AMC; Kristin Frank, MTV; Chris

Buchanan, this­Moment; Marc Debevoise, Starz

3:15-4 p.m.
TV With a Conscience
Panelists include Dante Di Loreto, “Glee”; Lisa Paulsen, Entertainment Industry Foundation; KaDee Strickland, “Private Practice”; Shonda Rhimes, “Grey’s Anatomy”

4-4:15 p.m.
Networking break

4:15-5 p.m.
The Gadgets and the Gizmos: Which Ones Will Viewers Plug Into?
Panelists include Brian David Johnson, Intel; Avner Ronen, Boxee; Eric Anderson, Samsung; Greg Goldman, Philo; Steve Shannon, RealD; Dale Hunter Pistilli, Western Digital

5-5:45 p.m.
TV Creative Masters
Panelists include Shawn Ryan, “The Chicago Code”; Roberto Orci, “Hawaii Five-O,” Anthony E. Zuiker, “CSI”; Gale Anne Hurd, “The Walking Dead”

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