Digital a delicate balance for TV honchos

TV toppers talk promo prospects, perils of new distribution at Banff

While distribution and streaming services such as Netflix can accentuate a program’s growth, it can’t get one off the ground.

So said 20th Century Fox Television chairman Gary Newman at the opening session of the Banff World Media Festival in Alberta, Canada.

“I don’t know how you launch a new show without a network screaming it to the public,” Newman said. “Nothing is as powerful as a network. They can say, ‘Here’s a show you love. Watch the one right after that.'”

Newman, who spoke alongside studio chairman Dana Walden, said that he is all for viewers finding new ways of watching shows via different forms of distribution — be it Netflix, Hulu or other various websites — but TV “ecosystems begin at a network, and you have to balance the need to give consumers what they want against (a studio) monetizing a show.”

Newman added that Netflix is more a player now at all levels of the TV business and they “will be at the table for syndication and renewal discussions.”

Walden said she often discussed the difficulty of not being able to earn proper compensation for shows with Dawn Ostroff, who recently left as president of the CW: “The CW struggled with the dilemma of young audiences and that they want to consume those shows on their own time, which is not regulated by Nielsen.”

Looking at 20th’s upcoming slate, Walden said the theme of the new season is “Go big or go home.” Studio is taking a major swing with “Terra Nova,” and there are hopes 20th can reap profits from a large international aud.

Shooting in Australia after plans for filming in Hawaii were scrapped, “Terra Nova” could have a life beyond Fox.

Mentioning “Glee” as a template — with its record sales and concert tour — Newman said if the show is a hit the series could find another ancillary life down the road.

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