TV execs talk competition, social media

Programming chiefs discuss market, trends at PromaxBDA panel

The market for original TV programming today is “insanely competitive” thanks to the “sheer volume” of product. So said FX Networks topper John Landgraf on Tuesday during a panel sesh with programming execs at the PromaxBDA confab at the J.W. Marriott in downtown L.A.

But stiff competition encourages risk-taking, Landgraf added, as networks and shows are challenged to “differentiate themselves” from a vast number of skeins.

Michael Wright, prexy of programming for TNT, TBS and TCM, noted that consumers no longer have to wait for a specific time to watch favorite shows. It’s all about “demand” in the era of Netflix and Hulu.

“The consumer doesn’t want to be told they have to watch this on this channel, on this day, at this time,” Wright said. “They want to watch when they want to watch.”

In spite of challenges like these that emerging platforms create, the panelists (which also included Machinima CEO Allen DeBevoise and PBS chief Paula Kerger) agreed that linear television programming is still relevant and thriving. They cited HBO’s “agnostic” platform options, pointing out that the net still pours millions into marketing specific viewing times on the channel itself.

Kerger, who mentioned that PBS will pursue more arts-related programming, noted that “Downton Abbey” fanatics still enjoy the “shared experience” of TV viewing, and that this is encouraged through social media sites like Twitter offering real-time interaction for airings of episodes.

Wright credited social media for allowing his net to engage in a particular breed of fans known as “super fans.”

“They aid in your marketing by engaging with social media,” he said, thereby doing legwork for a net’s marketing team. Social media, Wright said, allows fans to “create a relationship with a show that goes beyond just tuning in and watching it.”

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