Caution Flags Raised at NYTVF Industry Day

By 09/23/2009
Caution Flags Raised at NYTVF Industry Day

Ed. Note: Tubefilter research analyst Adam Wright is in New York this week reporting on both Advertising Week and the New York Television Festival (NYTVF). For live updates follow @tubefilter on Twitter. This is his recap of yesterdays’ Industry Day at NYTVF.

NYTVF 2009

Industry Day is a NATPE (National Association of Television Programming Executives) sponsored NYTVF event that features executives in television discussing the current state of the industry. As a running theme for this festival, in general when people from traditional media discussed anything about new media and web television it was with one part caution and two parts dismissal.


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Panel Recap: “A Level Headed Look at the Future of Television”
The first panel was by far the dreariest, “A level headed look at the future of television.” It included Bonnie Hammer, the accomplished President of NBC Universal Cable Entertainment, and Rick Rosen, Head of Television, William Morris Endeavor Entertainment.

The panel started off with a surprising question from Rick Feldman, NATPE President & CEO as moderator, “Are we still in the TV Business?” This is somewhat surprising considering he made the prediction on this summer that “Hulu will fail in 2 or 3 years.” This question was responded to with two non-answers I’ll paraphrase: ‘Yes we are or else I’m out of a job … but more appropriately we’re in the content business.’ After continued discussion, they both did concede they had an idea of how the next generation view media. ‘Kids growing up right now have no clue what’s on cable, or what’s on broadcast,” said Rosen. “There is no difference but a plug and a revenue stream.”

After further probing, they conceded that they considered web video as simply a promotional tool to drive viewers back to television. Rosen hinted at the thought of using the web as an incubator for testing out new content, but then made the short-sighted statement that “we just can’t make money off the web!” While it is hard to make money off the web, we know that with the right content, merchandising (Diggnation, Pure Pwnage), sponsorship (The Guild, Dorm Life, KatalystHQ), and the right windowing (Dr. Horrible, Angel of Death) it is very possible to make money off web video and make good money.

Panel Recap: “The Future of Comedy”

The second panel was far more web friendly, and featured two cable development executives both who have worked adapting web series to television: Debbie DeMontreux, SVP of Original Programming, IFC TV, the channel that brought the world both The Whitest Kids You Know and Food Party and Brent Haynes, SVP of Series Development, MTV, which developed the web series pickup CollegeHumor Show.

These two both lauded the web as a great new tool saying that it allows them to bypass the tired agency routes to discovering fresh talent and material. DeMontreux proclaimed with exuberance “The web is like its own agency!” Haynes was a little more cautious, but very open letting the audience know that at MTV they have entire meetings interns and assistants showcase fun and buzzing webseries and web talent: “we love to use the web as a tool…but we look mostly for talent from people all over the world.” DeMontreux seemed the most excited about the web and independently produced television in general as it gives her a better idea of how a series might actually look and feel. Not to mention give her an idea that these ideas can be realized on a shoe string budget much akin to a budget that the underfunded IFC might be able to hand out.

It’s good to see that at the very least those in charge of finding and developing new talent are on the leading edge using the internet to help them. That said, Bonnie Hammer was quite down on a lot of the changes that are happening in this new media landscape she even conceded “The only thing you can do is embrace change.” Now onto the real meat of the festival, Digital Day: Illeana Douglas, EQAL, 15 Gigs, and much more!

Adam WrightAdam F. Wright is an Analyst for Tubefilter Research. He recently graduated from Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University with a master’s degree in entertainment industry management. During his time there, he worked at NBC Universal’s Digital Distribution department and with Myspace Video’s Content Development team. In his spare time, Adam is a freelance marketing and distribution consultant in the online video and music industries. He is on special assignment this week in New York.

Top photo courtesy NYTVF.

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