Lunch a tech platform

HRTS's Cable Chiefs Newsmaker luncheon talks on biz future

“Multiplatform” is the new buzzword on cable.

Network heads and programmers talked up their plans to invade screens big and small Thursday at the Hollywood Radio & Television Society’s Cable Chiefs Newsmaker luncheon.

BET entertainment prexy Reginald Hudlin said he’s already thinking about how a project can manifest outside the set-top box.

“When I look at shows, I pick (those) that can work on a multiplatform basis. What you consume may migrate, but the form always remains,” he said. Cabler launched BET Mobile this year.

E!’s already putting several new applications into practice: Entertainment channel will be covering this weekend’s Oscar ceremony on several fronts including on-demand, online and via podcasts.

“We’re doing what we can to cannibalize ourselves — go online, go on the phone,” E! prexy-CEO Ted Harbert said. “Young viewers have different habits.”

The same viewers who are early to adopt new technology may also have an adverse effect on ratings. Nonetheless, Sci Fi exec VP of programming Mark Stern embraces consumer-customized viewing. He said that even though ratings may slow on “Battlestar Galactica” as tech-savvy auds download episodes, there is a positive side to the equation.

“What’s more exciting is that ‘Battlestar Galactica’ is among the most downloaded programs,” Stern said.

Bravo topper Lauren Zalaznick pointed out that brands will still be paramount no matter what the venue. “In cyberspace, it’s still brand that drives viewers to Web sites,” she said.

Execs were also unanimous about the threat of a la carte pricing: “When you look up ‘a la carte’ in the dictionary, you see ‘bad idea,’ ” Harbert said. “It will cost the viewer more money. Style Network would probably go away, and that would be a disservice to the female viewers.”

Lifetime programming chief Susanne Daniels agreed an a la carte system would be the death knell for Lifetime Movie Network.

“Lifetime survives with a loyalty among viewers and (its) branding,” she said. But LMN “would take a hit.”

CNN’s Jeff Greenfield moderated the panel.