REAP STREAMING'S CONTENT BOUNTY
Last year was a rough one for several series, such as canceled ‘Flack.’ The lucky ones get a second chance on a new network. V O L U M E 15 1 • N U M B E R 1 • J A N U A R Y 18 , 2 0 2 1 • $ 6 . 9 5
AS TV EVOLVES, SYNDICATION FOLLOWS SUIT
SIMINGTON'S FIRST INTERVIEW AT FCC
VOLUME 151 • ISSUE 1 • JANUARY 18, 2021 WWW.BROADCASTINGCABLE.COM
FOLLOW US twitter.com/BCBeat www.facebook.com/BroadcastingandCable CONTENT VP/Global Editor-In-Chief Bill Gannon, firstname.lastname@example.org Content Director Kent Gibbons, email@example.com Content Manager Michael Demenchuk, firstname.lastname@example.org Senior Content Producer - Washington John S. Eggerton, email@example.com Senior Content Producer - Programming Michael Malone, firstname.lastname@example.org Senior Content Producer - Technology Daniel Frankel, email@example.com Senior Content Producer - Business Jon Lafayette, firstname.lastname@example.org Senior Content Producer R. Thomas Umstead, email@example.com Senior Content Producer Mike Farrell, firstname.lastname@example.org Content Engagement Manager Jessika Walsten, email@example.com Contributor Paige Albiniak Production Manager Heather Tatrow Managing Design Director Nicole Cobban Art Editor Cliff Newman
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8 COVER STORY
FEATURES 8 COVER STORY Shows are canceled for many reasons and occasionally find homes on a new network. For some, it all works out. By Michael Malone 12 SPECIAL REPORT: GOLDEN GLOBES PREVIEW Netflix’s The Crown is just one of the bounty of streaming shows that will make the 2021 Golden Globe Awards a tough call for voters in both drama and comedy categories. By Paige Albiniak 20 SYNDICATION Producers and distributors of syndicated shows are following TV’s evolutionary path — and the money — onto new platforms. By Paige Albiniak
DEPARTMENTS 4 LEAD-IN 14 LOCAL NEWS 16 TECH 18 CURRENCY 24 FATES & FORTUNES 26 DATA MINE 32 VIEWPOINT 34 THE FIVE SPOT
Cover: Flack: Amazon Prime. This page: Flack: Amazon Prime; The Crown: Netflix; Kelly Clarkson Show: NBC
ADVERTISING SALES Director of Sales, Media Entertainment & Tech Laura Lubrano, firstname.lastname@example.org Ad Director Paul Mauriello, email@example.com Account Manager Katrina Frazer, firstname.lastname@example.org Japan Sales Sho Harihara, Yukari Media Inc., 81-64790-2222 or email@example.com
22 POLICY Nathan Simington didn’t expect President Donald Trump to name him to the FCC last fall, but the former NTIA staffer plans to make the most of the opportunity. By John Eggerton
ON THE COVER
Anna Paquin as a crisis PR rep in Flack, which moved to Amazon Prime Video after it was canceled by Pop TV. Future plc is a public company quoted on the London Stock Exchange (symbol: FUTR) www.futureplc.com
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Vol. 151 • No. 1 • January 18, 2021. B&C Broadcasting & Cable (ISSN 1068-6827) (USPS 066-000) is published monthly by Future US, Inc., 11 West 42nd Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10036. Periodicals postage paid at New York, NY, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to B&C Broadcasting & Cable, P.O. Box 8688, Lowell, MA 01853-8688. Printed in U.S.A. © 2021 Future US, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
CES Panels Highlight Streaming’s Growing Pains Players see shakeout coming and cite need for better navigation, content discovery By Gary Arlen firstname.lastname@example.org @GaryArlen
treaming video’s rapid expansion — fueled by explosive growth during the COVID-19 outbreak — will continue to increase in coming years, along the way finding a new equilibrium with traditional broadcast and cable TV. That was the consensus of three virtual sessions at CES 2021 that examined the evolving media relationships of the digital ecosystem. (For more from CES, including WiFi and smart set upgrades, see Tech, page 16). Data from Nielsen Global Media showed that the pandemic encouraged viewers, especially in older demographics, to learn how to use streaming technology, Nielsen senior VP of product strategy and thought leadership Brian Fuhrer said. As a result, the audience measurement firm’s year-end assessment showed that total streaming audiences at all age categories were very similar to the segmentation of traditional (broadcast and cable) viewing. But the assessment also showed that older viewers (age 55 and up) are now among the biggest users of linear, rather than on-demand, streaming services — reflecting their comfort level with linear, ad-supported formats, Fuhrer said. Despite the growth of streaming viewership from December 2019 (117.7 billion minutes) to last December (132 billion minutes), the percentage segmentation of preferences, topped by YouTube and Netflix, remained relatively consistent. Moreover, Nielsen’s findings underscored the continuing crossover between programming on traditional media and over-the-top platforms. For example, reruns of sitcom The Office attracted 10 million viewers on Netflix (before the show moved to Peacock this month). But The Office also attracted 11 million viewers for episodes airing in syndication on Comedy Central, local stations and from other sources. “That is really important when looking at content,” Fuhrer said, emphasizing “the longterm life in multiple platforms simultaneously.” Nielsen’s research also identified emerging release protocols, such as the value of offering all episodes of a series simultaneously (thus allowing immediate bingeing) versus regular rollouts, such as weekly release. Fuhrer noted that Disney Plus’s The Mandalorian had very high viewership during every weekend release,
“cutting the cord,” but rather “a better way to get the content they care about.” Both McCollum and fellow panelist Scott Reich, senior VP of programming at AVOD platform Pluto TV, cited the growth their services experienced during the early COVID crisis. For Philo, it was a surge of attention to kids’ content, while Pluto TV’s “massive influx” came as the 2020 political campaign heated up. As PlutoTV, owned by ViacomCBS, had a lot of political and health information, its channels offered “an interesting combination” of political and pandemic news, plus “a whole lot of escapism” from its entertainment channels, including cross-selling of Showtime programs via streaming teases of selected shows. Reich and McCollum agreed that streaming isn’t a winner-take-all marketplace, though both said there are lots of questions about how many entrants the SVOD market can support.
Finding Shows Still a Challenge
Scott Reich of Pluto TV (l.) and Andrew McCollum of Philo dove into “The Great Unbundling of Video” at a CES panel.
while series unleashed all at once showed steep viewership dropoffs after a one-time spree. Fuhrer’s data was reflected in the discussions on two separate CES panels dealing with streaming. In particular, panelists said, the role of original content versus “acquired” programming such as off-network series is a work in progress. Speakers also looked at the role of content in consumer acquisition and retention. At a session titled “The Great Unbundling in Video,” Philo CEO Andrew McCollum predicted cord-cutting would continue to accelerate the viewer shift toward streaming. He expects the streaming companies will “offer new options to people who cut the cord long ago and are looking for new options,” he said. Five to 10 years from now, McCollum said, consumers won’t consider OTT options to be
Predictably, data is at the heart of video navigation and search. At the “Streaming’s New Era” session, Sandeep Gupta, VP and GM of Amazon’s Fire TV, acknowledged his company — known for its algorithmic awareness of customer preferences and usage — is not sharing what it knows, even with partners such as co-panelists from Starz and WarnerMedia. “The key thing is helping them discover content in ways that [the programmers] didn’t think of before,” Gupta said. Viewers know what they want to watch and can find it some two-thirds of the time, said Sarah Lyons, senior VP, product experience at WarnerMedia. “We believe in a blend of human curation with underlying data to facilitate that curation,” Lyons said. “We are all in this battle to make sure our customers can find our content as easily as possible,” said Starz senior VP of distribution Stefanie Meyers. “We’re just trying to make sure that we make it as easy as possible for our consumer on whatever platform … so they can engage.” ●
STREAMING AUDIENCES DIFFER BY PLATFORM Different drivers for different user bases, but something for everyone
SOURCE: Nielsen, Streaming Meter Homes. Average Weekly Streaming Minutes (Weighted). P2+. Total Day. December 2020
WATCH THIS …
Senior content producer Michael Malone’s look at the programming scene
By Michael Malone email@example.com @BCMikeMalone
All American: The CW; Bridge and Tunnel: Epix; 9-1-1: Fox; Walker: The CW; The Blacklist: Sony/NBC
‘All American’ Kicks Off on The CW
Season three of All American, about a kid from Crenshaw who plays football for, and attends, Beverly Hills High, begins on The CW Jan. 18. The students are in their senior year, the football guys have their eye on a state championship and they’re thinking about college. “It’s the biggest pressure cooker-melting pot we could’ve put them in,” said showrunner/exec producer Nkechi Okoro Carroll. Daniel Ezra, Bre-Z and Greta Oniegou are in the cast. All American is based on the life of footballer Spencer Paysinger. Carroll aims to tell “an authentic story of what it’s like to be a Black youth in America today.” There will not be mention of COVID, or characters wearing masks other than a football face mask, in the new season. It’s a “pre-COVID world,” Carroll said. All American shoots in Los Angeles, with football
Bridge and Tunnel Broadcastingcable.com
action filmed both in South Crenshaw and in Beverly Hills. Carroll promises tense moments when everyone returns to Beverly Hills High at the start of the school year. “The summer secrets slowly unfold in the first half of the season,” she said, “and everyone has to deal with the ramifications when the secrets come out.”
Season four of 9-1-1 starts on Fox Monday. Maddie fears for herself and her co-workers when the call center is taken hostage. Angela Bassett, Peter Krause and Jennifer Love Hewitt are in the cast. Thursday, drama Walker begins on The CW. A rethink of Walker, Texas Ranger, Jared Padalecki plays the rough-andtumble ranger. Also on Thursday, season eight of Chrisley Knows Best is on USA Network. The show details the lives of Todd Chrisley and his over-the-top Southern family. One more Thursday premiere — season three of
Edward Burns Back on Long Island
Bridge and Tunnel, an Edward Burns dramedy about recent college grads on Long Island in 1980, starts on Epix Jan. 24. The project came to be when exec producer Burns was having dinner with Epix president Michael Wright. The pair lamented the “terrible state of the world,” Burns said, and thought about a series looking at a happier time. “We both thought it would be great to create a show that put a smile on your face,” said Burns. The characters seek their dreams in Manhattan while clinging to the familiarity of their hometown. Burns was curious to dive into early ’80s Manhattan, with its lively music scene, including punk and the early days of hip-hop. He envisioned a series set half in Manhattan and half on the Island. When COVID struck, much of the budget was eaten up by pandemic protection, and New York City was not handing out permits to film. So Burns set it all on Long Island. The eight-episode season shrunk to six. A Long Islander, Burns demanded authentic Noo Yawk accents from his cast, which includes Sam Vartholomeos and Caitlin Stasey. “I’ve always been a stickler for New York accents,” he said. “There’s nothing I hate more than hearing a bad New York accent.” Most of the cast is from New York. Stasey is Australian, but stayed in character throughout the shoot. Life was different back in 1980. “We look back at a more simple time,” said Burns. “We weren’t tethered to our phones and maybe we talked to each other a little more.” ●
Walker Italian crime drama Gomorrah on HBO Max. Genny takes control and ultimately rules over Naples and Rome. Two women rise to power in his network: drug pusher Annalisa and foot soldier Patrizia. And Friday, The Blacklist is back on NBC. With his back against the wall, Reddington faces his most formidable enemy yet: Elizabeth Keen. James Spader plays Reddington and Megan Boone plays Keen.
Flack: Amazon Prime; Designated Survivor : Netflix; The Expanse: Amazon Prime
CHANGING CHANNELS Now and then, a canceled show finds a new network. Occasionally, it all works out By Michael Malone firstname.lastname@example.org @BCMikeMalone
ike many well-received shows during the pandemic, Flack, with Anna Paquin as a PR doyenne tasked with cleaning up the messes of high-profile clients, was dropped by its network, Pop TV. Season two was in the can, but as Pop TV changed its programming strategy in the wake of the
Orphaned by a change of programming philosophy at Pop TV, Anna Paquin (c.) and Flack found a second home at Amazon Prime Video.
merger of parent ViacomCBS, the series was canceled. Unlike most orphaned series, Flack, offering a heady mix of drama and comedy, has found a new home. Season one, with six episodes, starts Jan. 22 on Amazon Prime Video and season two will stream later this year. Creator Oliver Lansley mentioned an overwhelming sense of gratification when Amazon Prime got on board with Flack. “More than anything, it was relief,” he said from England. “The idea of spending a year
making a series, and the whole thing not being seen by anyone, is devastating.”
One Network at a Time
Shows that have found new networks after cancellation, including One Day at a Time, The Expanse and Lucifer, have been a mixed bag, some getting a number of additional seasons at their new homes, others getting just one. Landing on a second network hardly ensures a series will suddenly become a smash, but at least it offers that opportunity. “You should always be excited that you have another
customers to guide our decision here,” said Brad Beale, VP of worldwide content licensing, Amazon Prime Video, “and we’re optimistic we can bring in existing fans of the series and build a new audience for it.”
Flack’s search for a new home was relatively smooth, according to Lansley, who described Amazon Prime as “our first port of call” after the show’s cancellation. Beale said Flack fits right in with other Amazon originals. “When we first watched Flack, we were very excited about giving this show a second chance, as we believe our customers will gravitate to and appreciate this unique dark comedy,” he said. “We look at Flack as an excellent complement to our existing slate of curated series and expect it to be highly bingeable, given the performances of the amazing cast and timeliness of the themes. It touches on the complexities of modern life, where problems can go viral an instant.” With COVID causing all sorts of production headaches, including significant budgetary dings, having a
Prominent channelchanging shows include (from top l., clockwise) Designated Survivor, Cobra Kai, The Expanse and The Mindy Project (below).
If you have a chance again, you’re way beyond where other shows are when they get canceled. Embrace it.
— Neal Baer, showrunner, Designated Survivor
season in the can available for acquisition is more enticing to a number of networks than starting series production from day one. And the pandemic has pushed streaming to the television norm among viewers, making the major digital platforms such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu a more-desired destination for many producers. “If you’re not playing in that arena, it’s a lot harder for your things to get seen,” Paquin said. Airing on a streaming platform also gives the
Cobra Kai: Netflix; Mindy Project: Hulu
chance,” said Neal Baer, who was showrunner on Designated Survivor after it shifted to Netflix following the political drama’s cancellation by ABC. “If you have a chance again, you’re way beyond where other shows are when they get canceled. Embrace it.” Designated Survivor with Kiefer Sutherland got one season on Netflix in 2019 before it was canceled again. Mindy Kaling comedy The Mindy Project had three seasons on Hulu after its first three seasons on Fox. Sci-fi drama The Expanse did three seasons on Syfy before shifting to Amazon Prime Video in 2019. Season five is streaming now, and Amazon ordered a sixth and final season. Cop comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine had five seasons on Fox before getting picked up on NBC in 2019. While Netflix is often the network that rescues orphaned series, it canceled comedy One Day at a Time after three seasons in 2019, with the show then doing one more season at Pop TV. Other series that have found new networks after cancellation include Longmire, Tuca & Bertie, Last Man Standing, Mr. Mercedes and You. Cobra Kai, for one, got off to a strong start at Netflix this month after two seasons on YouTube. “No one cared about it on YouTube, and everyone’s talking about it on Netflix,” said Old Dominion University assistant professor of communications Myles McNutt. Amazon Prime has not committed to new seasons of Flack, but will stream the two seasons produced while at Pop TV. “As with any of these decisions, we’ll be looking to our
NEW ‘FLACK’ HOME SUITS STAR PAQUIN
Brooklyn Nine-Nine: NBC ; You: Beth Dubber/Netflix; Flack: Amazon Prime; Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Flack producers more creative leeway than they typically find on broadcast and basic cable. For Neal Baer, it meant bolder stories on Designated Survivor than the show had done on ABC. “We got to tell very controversial, socially relevant stories,” he said. “There was no holding back on content. There’s a freedom on streaming that is really compelling for a lot of writers.” Broadcast networks answer to advertisers and the FCC. “They don’t love controversy,” added Baer. Streaming also allows for a deeper dive into a complicated character, such as Paquin’s PR ace Robyn. “There’s much more appetite for more complex and deeper emotional and psychological portrayal of a character,” said Linda Ong, co-founder and CEO of cultural consultancy Cultique, “as opposed to it being more plot-driven.”
Amazon vs. Netflix
Amazon Prime Video does not have the same robust brand for original content that Netflix does, say some cultural pundits. A Nielsen study of the top 10 streaming original series in 2020 had nine Netflix shows and one from Disney Plus. McNutt said Netflix does an effective job of “naturalizing” a series — taking a show it has either picked up after cancellation or one that is licensed from another network, and getting viewers to think of it as native to Netflix. How many young viewers of Friends or Schitt’s Creek, for example, think of them as Netflix originals? “The rebrand that Netflix does, Amazon cannot do,” McNutt said. “Amazon has never had that brand identity. Netflix can rebrand a
show and no other network has successfully accomplished that.” The Netflix brand is all about watching television, said Ong, while Amazon is about buying books, toilet paper and antacid, and watching television. Still, “don’t underestimate the ability of Amazon Prime to bring in an audience,” she said. In a 500-scripted-show universe, having a popular streaming platform “curate” an off-the-radar program, in Ong’s words, can give the series a serious boost. “It’s a seal of approval in a sea of content,” she said. “Consumers think, if it’s on Netflix, it must be good.” She added, “The Amazon brand has less cache, but it still does have cache.”
Season two of Flack has aired in the U.K. on the network W, and Paquin said it was “well received.” The second season’s edgy appeal may get a similar reaction in the U.S. “I do think that people are sick of the BS,” Paquin said. “Seeing the dark underbelly as opposed to the smoke and mirrors might appeal to people even more.” Ong believes Flack has a decent chance of breaking out on its new network. “With the right marketing and the right algorithm, if the content is good and unique and differentiated, I think there’s huge potential,” she said. With Amazon Prime’s history of biting comedies featuring strong female leads such as Fleabag and Catastrophe, Oliver Lansley said it feels like the proper place for Flack. “We feel like we’ve found our spiritual home,” he said. “We hope it fits well with its compatriots.” ●
lack star Anna Paquin took it in stride when she learned season two would not air on Pop TV. She said she’s been working long enough to have gone through this before. “These things happen,” Paquin said. “The work you love sits on the shelf and does not get released. I’ve been around the roundabout enough times to really not take anything personally.” Pop TV had stepped back from the originals business as the newly merged ViacomCBS shifted some network strategies. “Giant corporate mergers are not anything any of us can account for,” Paquin said. She acknowledged that a show being canceled isn’t all that big a deal in a world where people are gravely suffering from COVID. “There are real, life-and-death circumstances happening in the world all around us,” she said. “We make entertainment, and it’s great and I love it and what’s what I do with my life. But it’s entertainment. If you didn’t have your priorities in check already, this puts a lot of things in perspective.” Paquin added: “My show left one network for another. These are high-class problems.” She mentioned being grateful for all Pop TV did for Flack, and is pumped to shift to Amazon. “Amazon has this obviously massive reach,” she said. “We have a whole first season a lot of people have not seen, and an entire second season literally ready to go.” Paquin mentioned how creator Oliver Lansley hooked her in with dazzling scripts. “The writing and the darkness and the humor and the combo of all that,” she said. “In the first seconds, it’s, ‘I think I know what’s happening’ and you don’t.” She appreciates that Amazon Prime Video execs dig Flack. “They loved the show for all its raw, raunchy, complete inappropriateness,” Paquin said. “That is the version we are airing on Amazon.” — MM
SPECIAL REPORT: GOLDEN GLOBES PREVIEW
As Streaming Explodes, HFPA Has Wealth of Content to Consider Golden Globe nominations out Feb. 3, with awards on Feb. 28 one of the villains in WarnerMedia’s Wonder Woman 1984, also could be nominated.
By Paige Albiniak email@example.com @PaigeA
etflix’s Bridgerton is a late entry to the TV awards fray, having been released on Christmas Day. But with Netflix noting that more than 63 million people have tuned in to binge the period-drama delight, Bridgerton is a possible Golden Globes drama nominee ahead of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s nominations on Wednesday, Feb. 3. The frothy series — stuffed full of jawdropping costumes, flashy jewelry and sky-high wigs — should appeal to the international journalists who make up the HFPA, with its setting in 1813 London and its cast of British actors. Bridgerton showed up right when it was needed — at the end of a difficult 2020 that included the first-ever modern global pandemic, which kept people around the world in their homes for most of the year, as well as a contentious presidential election and frequent protests against racial injustice and police brutality. “Television was more important than ever this year,” Aaron Barnhart, TV critic for website Primetimer, said. “This is a relatively late air date for the Globes, which gives them a chance to position themselves as the predictor of Emmy winners. The Golden Globes have such a high visibility that they could actually wind up being the premiere television award, supplanting the Emmys.” Whether that turns out to be true remains to be seen, but the HFPA has its work cut out for it selecting among all of this year’s worthy options.
Ted Lasso: Apple TV Plus; The Crown: Netflix
‘The Crown’ Shines in Drama
Netflix’s The Crown, with its more serious tone and sedate look than bright Bridgerton, is probably the lead drama contender in 2021, especially without last year’s winner, HBO’s Succession, in the mix. Both last year’s winner, Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth, and Emma Corrin, with her uncanny and tragic portrayal of Princess Diana, are considered lead contenders for best actress nominations. While the two could split the vote, the HFPA is loath to repeat itself, which could push Corrin higher in contention. Josh O’Connor’s Prince Charles, with his back hunched and his hands perpetually in his pockets, also is a best actor contender.
‘Creek’ Still Rising
Apple TV Plus’s Ted Lasso is a Golden Globes comedy contender, while The Crown on Netflix (r.) is a leader of the drama pack. “The Crown was more scandalous and less interesting this season,” Barnhart said. Barnhart would like to see Tobias Menzes, who plays Prince Philip and has been seen on such shows as Game of Thrones and Outlander, get a nomination, as well as Erin Doherty, who plays the very stiff-upperlipped Princess Anne. Also considered likely drama nominations are Netflix’s oft-nominated Ozark, which aired season three in 2020, and AMC’s Better Call Saul, which is widely considered one of TV’s best shows but hasn’t earned anywhere close the number of accolades as its progenitor, Breaking Bad. Ozark’s Laura Linney, Jason Bateman and Julia Garner are all likely to score best actress, best actor and best supporting actress nods, with Garner having won the Emmy for this role in 2019 and 2020. Better Call Saul’s Bob Odenkirk, portraying attorney Jimmy McGill’s transformation into criminal lawyer Saul Goodman, also is expected to be listed among the best TV drama actors. Both HBO’s wild Lovecraft Country and its period piece Perry Mason should score noms, with Perry Mason star and producer Matthew Rhys leading the list of expected best-actor nominations. Rhys won the Emmy in 2018 for playing Russian spy Phillip Jennings in FX’s The Americans. Lovecraft Country leads Jonathan Majors and Jurnee Smollett also are both expected to appear on the best actor and best actress lists. Finally, Disney Plus’s The Mandalorian is a popular favorite, with fan love high for Baby Yoda/Grogu. Star Pedro Pascal, who played
TELECAST SET FOR FEB. 28 Pushed to a later date this year due to the pandemic, the Golden Globes will air Sunday, Feb. 28 on NBC and be hosted for the fourth time by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Exactly what the format will look like is unclear, with the producers saying it is too early to release their plans. But with the pandemic at all-time highs in Los Angeles, it’s highly unlikely that audiences will get to witness celebrities partying at their tables at the Beverly Hilton and cringing at jokes directed at them.
On the comedy side, Pop TV/Netflix’s Schitt’s Creek is still riding high, with its cast — and particularly Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy as Moira and Johnny Rose — expected to grab Globes. That would be a first for the veteran Canadian comedic performers. But with Schitt’s Creek having swept the comedy Emmys, the HFPA may want to veer to something new. Options include Hulu’s The Great, starring likely nominees Elle Fanning and Nicolas Hoult, or Apple TV Plus’s Ted Lasso, starring and created by Jason Sudeikis, which was born out of a content marketing play for NBC Sports. “I could see Ted Lasso getting the comedy award because it finished so strong,” Barnhart said. “It threw you off with the first couple of episodes, and then it went deep with its characters and wrapped up so satisfyingly so that you’re looking forward to season two. Who would have thought that this little promotional campaign would have become this?” Last year’s winner, Hulu’s Ramy, remains in play, especially with a guest turn from double Oscar winner Mahershala Ali. FX has fan-fave vampire comedy What We Do in the Shadows, and a late entry is HBO Max’s The Flight Attendant starring and executive produced by Kaley Cuoco, who also is a contender for best actress in a comedy. Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit, which, like Bridgerton, is a period piece driven by buzz as well as the performance of lead actress Anya Taylor-Joy, has risen to the top of the contenders’ list for limited series. It’s joined by Netflix’s Unorthodox, which scored eight Emmy nominations and won best director of a limited series for Maria Schrader. Other contenders include FX’s Mrs. America, starring Cate Blanchett, and perennial nominee Fargo, now in its fourth iteration and starring Chris Rock. HBO should be competing in this category with The Undoing, starring likely nominees Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant and executive produced by David E. Kelly, as well as Michaela Coel’s auteur-driven I May Destroy You. Steve McQueen’s anthology Small Axe, which plays like a series of short films on Amazon, will likely show up here, as well as Hulu’s tortured but beautiful Irish romance Normal People. ●
Charm City Keeps Its Cool There’s loads of news to cover in Baltimore, and stations expand their output
By Michael Malone firstname.lastname@example.org @BCMikeMalone
s racial inequality protests took place in cities large and small across the U.S., and some grew violent, Baltimore residents protested peacefully. Memories of the mayhem after Freddie Gray died in police custody in 2015 were likely a factor in keeping the street scenes within the laws. “There were demonstrations for sure,” said Bill Hooper, VP and general manager of WMAR, “but they were peaceful.” Yet Baltimore has its challenges. Hooper called crime “a cloud over the city.” The beloved Preakness was cancelled last spring. Maryland has pushed hard to fight COVID, which means serious restrictions across the state, hurting restaurants and retail. The stations have plenty to cover. Hearst Television has NBC affiliate WBAL. CBS owns WJZ. Scripps has ABC outlet WMAR and Sinclair Broadcast Group owns Fox affiliate WBFF, while managing The CW outlet WNUV and running MyNetworkTV station EBFF on a dot-two. Comcast (Xfinity) is the primary pay TV operator. Stations in DMA No. 28 have been increasing their news. WMAR and WJZ both slotted a 7 p.m. newscast in September. For WMAR, it came after President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 news conferences would often bump the 5 p.m. news. For WJZ, the newscast
offers a high story count and lively pace. “It’s the entire news of the day in those 30 minutes,” said Audra Swain, president and general manager. WBFF, which does morning news 4:30-10 a.m., added an 11 a.m. news in September. It leads into Fox 45 Bmore Lifestyle. “We always continue to expand news, and that was the natural next step,” said Bill Fanshawe, senior
‘TRAFFIC JAM JIMMY’ DRIVES TRAFFIC AN UNLIKELY BALTIMORE TV star is Fox Baltimore’s Traffic Jam Jimmy. Jimmy Uhrin has been with WBFF for 45 years, the majority of it in production. Management thought his quirky personality — and long white beard — would work on air, and put him on traffic in 2012. “We look to differentiate ourselves from the other stations,” said senior VP/group manager Bill Fanshawe. “Jimmy has this unique personality.” Uhrin, who played Mondy the Sea Monster on former WBFF children’s
program Captain Chesapeake, drives around Charm City in the Len Stoler Mobile Trak, adorned with eight cameras. He also pitches in with breaking news when he happens to be near it. “He can drive around and get shots from his car,” said Fanshawe. Traffic Jam Jimmy has a lively social media presence. His Instagram bio describes him as a “lover of Dunkin Donuts and McDonald’s Fish Sammishes.” “He’s Baltimore,” said Billy Robbins, WBFF VP/general manager. “People love him.”— MM
WBAL anchors Mindy Basara and Jason Newton on the home field of the hometown Baltimore Ravens.
VP and group manager at WBFF. WJZ will launch its CBSN Local streaming product in the first quarter. Swain sees it like a duopoly — a chance to offer local content when WJZ airs football or other network programming. “It can be so much more than a simulcast,” she said. WMAR’s topical specials have included Bridging the Gap and Rebound Maryland. It debuted its OTT product in September. “It’s pretty much a constant local news presence in the marketplace,” Hooper said. “That’s been a very big thing for us.” WBAL is “tied at the hip” with a pair of Hearst-owned local radio stations, said Dan Joerres, president and general manager, one hard rock and one talk. Some of the rock jocks host a Saturday night program called Justin, Scott and Spiegel Shouldn’t Be on TV. Joerres called the radio properties “a huge advantage.” WBAL, which conducted town halls related to race, is a ratings beast, and WJZ is not far off the pace. In December, the two were virtually tied in households at 6 a.m., and WBAL won in viewers 25-54. WJZ had the upper hand in both races at 5 p.m., while WBAL did at 6 p.m. At 11 p.m., WBAL posted a 5.0 household rating and 1.8 in 25-54. WJZ had a 4.5 and 1.0, WBFF a 1.8 and 0.9 and WMAR a 1.1 and 0.5. “Our brand is Live, Local, Late-Breaking,” said Joerres. “We live it and breathe it every day.” The NFL’s Baltimore Ravens are an adored local team. WJZ has its “Purple franchise,” said Swain, such as Ravens-centric Purple Playbook and Purple Preview. “It’s a real source of pride for us,” she said. With Fanshawe taking on a larger regional role within Sinclair, Billy Robbins was named WBFF VP/general manager. WBFF has a pair of investigative franchises: “Project Baltimore” focuses on schools and “Crime & Justice” on government. General managers said Baltimore is vastly different from the way it is often depicted, such as on 2000s crime drama The Wire. Said Joerres, “We’re a very tight-knit community.” ●
Traffic Jam Jimmy Uhrin has been onair at WBFF since 2012.
WiFi Gets Its Biggest Upgrade in Decades ‘WiFi 6E’ adds 6-GHz wireless spectrum to the standard introduced almost two years ago By Daniel Frankel email@example.com @dannyfrankel
he WiFi 6 revolution is here — for real this time. Actually, the biggest upgrade to WiFi tech in decades is called “WiFi 6E,” and it promises to vastly improve the way our router/gateway communicates to the myriad connected devices in your home, including the smart TV, box, stick, dongle, laptop or tablet you stream video on. Last week, the WiFi Alliance, the industry trade group that oversees the evolution of WiFi, began certification of WiFi 6E. You’ve probably already heard of WiFi 6, but the "E" (for "extended') is new. Introduced in 2019, the sixth iteration of the 802.11 WiFi standard dramatically improved the way routers and gateways handled multiple devices at once. Using 802.11 ax WiFi, these devices tap into OFDMA (orthagonal frequency division multiple access), a modulation scheme similar to what is used in DOCSIS and LTE that helps routers and gateways increase the efficiency of how channels are split.
Last year, regulators in the United States and the United Kingdom approved use of the 6-GHz band for home WiFi use, allowing WiFi 6 another 1,200 MHz of midband unlicensed spectrum all to itself. This massive haul of new frequency is where the “extended” comes in for WiFi 6E, offering huge benefits in places such as multi-family dwellings, in which users have traditionally bumped into one another in terms of WiFi frequency usage. At last week’s virtual CES 2021, numerous technology vendors pitched WiFi 6E gateways and routers, as well as devices like compatible smartphones and laptop computers. These devices are backward compatible with traditional WiFi routers and gateways that rely on old-fangled 2.4-GHz and 5-GHz spectrum. But paired with those that do enable Wi-Fi 6E, they’ll deliver far lower latency, while maximizing those pricey 1-Gigabit per second internet subscriptions to boot. As of now, Roku, Amazon, Apple, Google and other streaming hardware makers have yet to integrate WiFi 6E into their players, sticks and dongles. But it’s a good bet that the technology will proliferate beyond the major WiFi components (routers and computers) to peripheral devices by CES 2022. ●
TCL: GOOGLE TV-POWERED SMART TVS ON THE WAY CHINESE CONSUMER ELECTRONICS company TCL said that it will soon ship smart TVs based on Google TV, Alphabet’s new iteration of the Android TV OS. The TVs will arrive in the U.S. and other parts of the world later this year, said TCL in an announcement tied to this year’s virtualized CES conference. “The introduction of TCL Google TVs will take our partnership with Google to the next level,” said Kevin Wang, CEO of TCL Industrial Holdings and TCL Electronics, in a statement. “Our theme at CES this year is ‘Experience More,’
and by combining cutting-edge displays with smart and convenient content
Netgear’s $5999 Nighthawk RAXE500 is one of the first routers built around WiFi 6E.
powered by Google, I am confident we will allow people around the world to do just that in 2021.” TCL is the second-biggest supplier of smart TVs in the U.S., controlling around 14% of domestic market share, and surpassed only by Samsung. Most
NETGEAR DEBUTS PRICEY WIFI 6E ROUTER THE BIGGEST UPGRADE to WiFi technology in decades doesn’t come cheap. Tied to the virtual CES 2021, Netgear introduced one of the first routers built around the new WiFi 6E standard, the triband enabled Nighthawk RAXE500. Price: $599. Introduced in 2019, WiFi 6 represented a major evolution in the way routers communicated with devices, making signal exchanges much more efficient. The just-introduced WiFi 6E standard (the “E” standing for “extended”) uses an additional 1,200 MHz of unlicensed spectrum recently freed up by the FCC. As more people communicate with more devices than ever in densely crowded areas, the additional spectrum is crucial for keeping signals from bumping into one another. As the “tri-band” capability suggests, the RAXE500 supports the traditional 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, in addition to 6 GHz. It has five gigabit ports and two USB 3.0 ports, and contains a quad-core 1.8 GHz processor. — DF
TCL televisions sold domestically have been powered by Roku. But the company began shipping a limited number of sets based on Google’s Android TV last year. Alphabet’s Google recently upgraded Android TV to include a top-level search-and-recommendation layer called “Google TV.” Over time, Google TV will replace Android TV as the brand name of the entire OS. Sony also said that it will ship Google TV-based smart TVs this year. "We are excited to partner with TCL to bring Google TV to customers around the world. Google TV is a more helpful and delightful TV experience that helps users find the content they love," added Shobana Radhakrishnan, senior engineering director of Google TV, in a statement. — DF
Can Anyone Top Nielsen In the Measurement Business? Data and analytic rivals see opportunity as media business changes By Jon Lafayette firstname.lastname@example.org @jlafayette
hifts in media consumption are forcing measurement companies to change the way they do business, and that has smaller data and analytics firms seeing opportunities providing new services to networks and advertising buyers. A cluster of deals in January highlighted that this will be an interesting year in measurement. Nielsen, the longtime leader in the TV measurement business, in December outlined changes it plans to make over the next few years to meet industry demand for ratings that cover impressions on all screens for individual commercials. And that might be enough to keep Nielsen on top. “In the case of measurement, you have what is essentially a natural monopoly. It’s a business where market participants want a unified, standardized currency. That almost by definition means there’s room for one provider,” argued Brian Wieser, the former analyst who is now global president, business intelligence, at GroupM. As long as advertisers want a trusted provider of age and gender-based demo-
graphic measure, it would be prohibitively expensive and probably a bad investment to try to replicate everything Nielsen does, Wieser said. But COVID-19 has accelerated change in the media and advertising business. “The pandemic probably made it ever more important for people to get into granular audience measurement — Who are you showing ads to? What actions do they take subsequently? — rather than just rely on the gross ratings points and broad measurement they were getting from Nielsen,” said Raghu Kodige, co-founder and chief product officer of Alphonso. Alphonso on Jan. 7 sold a controlling stake for $80 million to smart TV set maker LG Electronics, which will set up an ad business based on Alphonso’s analytics and targeting capabilities.
Data to Drive a Shakeout
Kodige thinks there will be a consolidation in the measurement industry, with companies that have access to big data — like LG’s — having an advantage. “I don’t think measurement in the future will be dominated by one company. There will not be one currency for the media business,” Samba TV co-founder and CEO Ashwin Navin said. “There’ll be multiple currencies.” Access to data might determine the number of players. “The third-party measurement
Taking the measure of a changing measurement business (from top): Brian Wieser, GroupM; Raghu Kodige, Alphonso; Bill Livek, Comscore; and Sean Muller, iSpot. At left, set maker LG paid $80 million for access to Alphonso’s analytics and targeting capabilities.
space is challenged,” Navin said. With new privacy rules, a limited number of home electronics and MVPDs will have first-party data, and those that don’t have a sturdy relationship to that data won’t be able to persist. Samba is bolstering its first-person relationship with consumers with a product called Picture Perfect, which uses artificial intelligence to automatically adjust the picture settings depending on whether viewers are watching live sports, movies or playing games on sets made by Toshiba, Panasonic, Hitachi, JVC and Telefunken. Navin called AI a foundational technology for Samba that will unlock other innovations, including dynamic contextual advertising applications, for which automated content recognition is not as well-suited. iSpot.tv on Jan. 14 acquired Ace Metrix, broadening what it can offer clients. “We are focused historically on measuring audiences and business outcomes,” iSpot CEO Sean Muller said. “Now we bring brand impact into the fold. We’re the first platform that’s connecting those to things in a meaningful and significant way in real time.” Since COVID, Muller said that, since COVID, clients have been more sensitive about the creative messages they’re putting into the market. Ace Metrix will enable iSpot to tell them what’s helping their image as well as their sales. iSpot will also be able to calculate how those two factors interact, making them more valuable to a broader range of client executives. “We’re squarely focused on the media and analytics teams,” Muller said. “Ace Metrix is squarely in the brand world. This makes us a more integral partner to the CMO and the entire marketing team.” Muller figures iSpot is already ahead of Nielsen and the rest of the industry in measuring viewing and outcomes in real time. “Now we’re really bringing brands a complete solution.” Comscore, which on Jan. 7 brought in Charter Communications, Qurate and Cerberus as strategic partners in a $204 million deal, also thinks it’s running ahead of Nielsen. “We believe that we already are No. 1 in impression measurement,” Comscore CEO Bill Livek said. “We essentially have complete census measurement that gives us the unique ability to measure the product people buy crosstabbed with precise ratings to the second. That’s where the world is going.”
“Brands are looking to have a level of accountability with their agencies in the media providers,” added Chris Wilson, Comscore’s chief commercial officer. “This puts us in a position to really provide the future measurement that both the buy side and the sell side need to succeed.” Livek said the Comscore deal was the most exciting news in measurement in a long time. “Media will never be the same after COVID nor will its measurement. This is literally, pun intended, a shot in the arm for the measurement business.” ●
As TV Evolves, So Does Syndication
Kelly Clarkson Show: NBC; Nick Cannon: Debmar-Mercury; The Good Dish: Sony Pictures; Young Sheldon: CBS; You Bet Your Life: Fox
Content producers seek new revenue streams on other platforms
By Paige Albiniak email@example.com @PaigeA
ike all of television, syndication is transforming. With audiences continuing to fragment across linear, digital and streaming landscapes, it’s getting increasingly difficult to earn sufficient revenue from producing and distributing a show on linear broadcast alone. As a result, syndicators are looking to create more revenue streams with every piece of content they produce. Syndicators are still bringing major shows to market with the intention of landing them on TV stations first and foremost. For fall 2021, these include Fox’s You Bet Your Life, starring Jay Leno; Debmar-Mercury’s Nick Cannon, the launch of which was delayed last year; and Sony Pictures Television’s The Good Dish. That said, don’t be surprised if these new shows also show up on non-broadcast platforms. One of the biggest changes to TV has been major media companies — and particularly WarnerMedia and The Walt Disney Co. — shifting focus almost solely to streaming and to new services,
HBO Max and Disney Plus, respectively. While Disney has long only produced first-run shows chiefly for its owned stations and then sold those shows, such as Tamron Hall, to other stations in non-ABC-owned markets, Warner Bros. is a large third-party producer of shows such as Ellen DeGeneres, TMZ and Extra. Warner Bros. also was always actively developing and testing new shows, frequently partnering with Fox Television Stations. With those studios no longer very active in first-run syndication, it could, on one hand, mean less programming for TV stations, but on the other, it could mean production vacuums that other companies can step in to fill. “The studios have abandoned this space,” Byron Allen, chairman and CEO of Allen Media Group and Entertainment Studios, said. “The studios broke up with the TV stations and didn’t even email them. The studios basically said, ‘Check me out on social media and streaming.’ Stations’ studio boyfriend is all over the internet and it’s called streaming.”
Finding New Revenue Streams
Companies remaining in the space are considering how streaming platforms fit into their overall distribution models. Some shows are still produced specifically to air on
NBCUniversal Television Distribution has put The Kelly Clarkson Show on the Peacock streaming platform.
TV stations in linear schedules, but most executives are thinking about additional revenue models as they develop shows and take them to market. “The TV audience has declined so now stations don’t pay as much for syndicated shows as they once did,” John Weiser, president, first-run production, Sony Pictures Television, said. “TV stations have the same high standards but they don’t have the same money, so we have to explore complementary revenue opportunities. The good news is, digital viewers are not linear viewers. One does not cannibalize another. “I think it’s the natural evolution of the market,” Weiser continued. “The way you distribute a program is by evaluating where it will work best. Right after that is figuring out the best way to extract full value for the program.” Said another syndication executive: “The reality is with the license fees that stations are paying and trying to pay, they are effectively requiring us to go find other money. There needs to be a balance, and it’s good for the stations if a show is profitable. If you’re Tubi or YouTube, you’re happy to have the show, and if you’re a TV station, you’re OK with that because you want to pay X per week, not Y.” For example, NBCUniversal’s The Kelly Clarkson Show, which has been renewed across the entire country for two more seasons, also has a run on Peacock, the company’s nascent streaming service. “Being on streaming is a must,” NBCUniversal Syndication Studios executive VP, syndication sales Sean O’Boyle said. “For everything we do going forward, we’ll have a consideration for streaming. That’s baked into the contracts now and I would think it would be industry standard going forward.” Along those lines, SPT earlier this month said Dr. Oz was getting a run on advertisingsupported video-on-demand (AVOD) service Pluto TV, and Fox station executives have said they would be willing to share syndicated shows with their co-owned AVOD Tubi. In addition, Allen Media Group late last year bought MGM diginets This TV and Light TV, automatically expanding Entertainment Studios’ distribution opportunities.
Getting Creative with Financials
Other creative financial models also are popping up. NBCUniversal’s original conflict talker, Maury, starring Maury Povich, who turned 82 on Jan. 17, will go out of first-run production after the 2021-22 season. As the show wraps up its 30-year run, having launched in 1991, NBCUniversal is developing a new series featuring one of the show’s guest co-hosts that it plans to offer to stations. But stations also will be able to license the show’s repeats, just like they are doing now with Jerry Springer, which went out of production in 2018. “These shows are not day-and-date and
they do have a very long library life, so we’re looking at all angles for what we should be doing with these libraries, which have very loyal fan bases,” Tracie Wilson, executive VP, NBCUniversal Syndication Studios, said. “It’s all exciting because the business is evolving and we’re evolving with it.” Not so long ago, repeats were anathema in syndication, and to some extent that remains true. Day-and-date talkers such as Warner Bros.’s Ellen, Debmar-Mercury’s Wendy Williams and CTD’s Dr. Phil tend to see ratings decline when they go into repeats. But for some long-running shows, viewers turn up whether the show is in originals or not. NBCUniversal has offered Springer repeats to stations for the past two years. Starting this fall, the renamed CBS Media Ventures will provide stations with repeats of Judge Judy when that show ends first-run production after this season, the show’s 25th. (Meanwhile Judge Judy Sheindlin, 78, is taking a new first-run version of her show to Amazon’s IMDb TV.) Also as part of monetizing existing content, NBCUniversal is deploying other off-network series across the television landscape. A syndicated version of Dateline, which airs only true-crime stories, is in its fourth season with a fifth sold and on its way; and NBCU has cleared Law & Order: Special Victims Unit as a strip in 80% of the country. NBCU also is looking at bringing out Chicago Fire, which is in its ninth season, as a weekly and possibly a primetime offering this fall. Entertainment Studios found a treasure trove of content when Allen Media Group acquired The Weather Channel in 2018 for $300 million. As a result, Entertainment Studios has three new off-Weather Channel series coming out this fall: strip Highway to Hell and weeklies Top Ten and SOS How to Survive. Last year, Entertainment Studios sold two other off-Weather Channel weeklies, Weather Gone Viral and Storm of Suspicion, in 99% of the country. “We got into The Weather Channel and realized it was a gold mine,” Allen said. “We have enough content to fill these television stations for years. We took them into the syndication marketplace and ended up with our best station lineup ever.” “These traditional affiliates’ No. 1 driver is weather,” Entertainment Studios president, domestic television distribution Andrew Temple said. “When they have access to weather content, they’re going to take it and use it to promote their own brand. The great thing about the landscape is that it’s evolving. It’s the digital revolution and content is the new gas and oil that’s fueling it.”
Turning Assets Into Shows
Meanwhile, station groups are looking at their assets and figuring out how they can use them to provide their own programming. Tegna’s Daily Blast Live, which is produced from KUSA Denver, is in its fourth season and headed into its
Shows are still heading to traditional syndication, including (from top) cooking series The Good Dish; off-net sitcom Young Sheldon; Jay Leno game show You Bet Your Life; and talk show Nick Cannon, delayed from last year.
fifth. It airs on 80 stations in 76 markets and in one-third of its markets, the show is on non-Tegna owned stations, including stations owned by E.W. Scripps, Hearst Television and Gray Television. Daily Blast Live was always a linear and digital play from its inception. Two hours of content is produced each day for linear broadcast as well as four and a half hours streamed live every day on Twitch, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube; on Daily Blast Live’s own website and app; and on Tegna’s over-the-top station apps. “We believe in digital as strongly as we believe in broadcast,” Tegna VP, original programming and development Lisa Kridos said. “I think it’s the most relevant talk show on television,” said Daily Blast Live executive producer Burt Dubrow, who joined the show in its second season and previously launched such programs as Sally Jessy Raphael and Jerry Springer. “When you watch us, there’s a freshness to us, a feeling of, ‘I’ve never thought of it that way before.’” Meredith is airing People (the TV Show!), with hosts Kay Adams and Lawrence K. Jackson and special correspondents Gretchen Carlson and Nancy O’Dell, in 12 markets after launching this fall. The show is based on People magazine, which Meredith added to its portfolio after its $2.8 billion acquisition of Time Inc. in 2018. Sony is currently selling the access magazine to stations across the country with a national launch target of fall 2022.
“We’re presenting stations with a multiplatform opportunity for People,” Weiser said. “We will have sponsorable vignettes and other sales tools for stations to use on their lifestyle and morning shows and on their digital platforms. We have a lot of experience with those because we’ve done the same thing with Dr. Oz.” For Meredith, the acquisition of Time was just the starting point. “When we bought Time Inc., we took a clear look at the playing field and this was one of the most obvious opportunities that we identified right off the bat,” Patrick McCreery, president, Meredith Local Media Group, said. “People is a brand that’s been around for more than 50 years that didn’t have its rightful place in the TV segment.” “We wanted to do this differently than we had done it in the past. We operated with two guiding principles: That this would be a viable product on the Meredith TV stations with or without anybody else, but that we would also create a product that everybody else would want. I think we have achieved that.” Meredith is working on turning other Time Inc. brands into TV shows, McCreery said. Southern Living already is a weekly series with 26 episodes produced and a second season greenlit, and the company is developing something around lifestyle brand Better Homes & Gardens.
Off-Net is Still in Business
Finally, off-network syndication remains a business, although a declining one. Warner Bros. Domestic Television this fall will launch The Big Bang Theory spinoff Young Sheldon off CBS, with Nexstar Media Group serving as the launch group. “Young Sheldon is the No. 1 comedy in primetime and it held the biggest audience leading out of Bang than any other show,” Warner Bros. Domestic Television executive VP David Decker said. “And when it aired on its own, without Bang, it over-delivered.” Warner Bros. also has renewed The Big Bang Theory, syndication’s top off-net sitcom, for a second cycle starting in 2023, and Friends for a fourth cycle. NBCU is renewing Monk across the country, and Debmar-Mercury’s Schitt’s Creek just launched this fall. SPT is rolling out The Good Doctor off ABC and SWAT off CBS for weekend hours this fall, as well as selling new cycles of Seinfeld and King of Queens. Looking ahead, Disney has sitcom American Housewife coming as an off-net strip in 2022, as well as weekly hours The Resident and 9-1-1. TV’s great disruption has finally pushed syndicators and stations to work in partnership for mutually assured success. “You need to give stations as many tools to be successful as you can,” Decker said. “It’s no longer a business where you are just trying to jam these things through. We are playing cards-up poker. We have to make this work for the stations or we also lose.” ●
FCC’s Nathan Simington: From the Prairie to the Capital Agency’s newest Republican looks to make most of his surprise nomination therefore to experience a variety of things. I originally moved to the United States in 1999 when I was offered a scholarship to a college in Wisconsin. I went back to Canada for a couple of years for grad school, but returned to the United States in 2003, and I guess this time it stuck. My background was originally in academia. I was planning to become a professor. But along with a lot of people between 2006 and 2008 [in the economic meltdown] when there were a lot of changes in society generally, I decided to try something else. I received my green card in 2007 and after working for a year in the market research industry, I decided to go to law school, which eventually led me here today. B+C: You were at NTIA for only five or six months before being tapped for this post. What was your role there? NS: I was the senior adviser in the front office, which means I was working daily with the deputy assistant secretary and assistant secretary to formulate policy and responses on a wide variety of issues. But my primary focuses were wireline issues, spectrum issues and internet governance issues.
By John Eggerton firstname.lastname@example.org @eggerton
Commerce.Senate.gov via screenshot
athan Simington got the unexpected nod from President Donald Trump last fall to join the Federal Communications Commission, a nomination he said he was surprised to receive but is clearly determined to make the most of. In this exclusive interview, his first as FCC commissioner, the former National Telecommunications & Information Administration official talks about his road from rural (and urban) Saskatchewan to a seat on the FCC, outlines his regulatory philosophy, pushes back on criticism from Hill Democrats and explains his take on the hot-button debate over Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the legal provision that protects social media platforms from liability for what their users post. Here’s an edited transcript of the conversation. B+C: Briefly tell us how you got from a rural community in Saskatchewan,
Canada, to the Federal Communications Commission. Nathan Simington: My family has always split its time — six months in each place — between my family farm in Kincaid, Saskatchewan, which you will have trouble finding on a map because it only has two or three hundred people, and Saskatoon, which is one of the principal cities. On one hand, I certainly spent a lot of my life living in the country. But I was also fortunate to have access to great schools and opportunities in my urban home town and
Nathan Simington, formerly an official with the NTIA, speaks during his Senate confirmation hearing.
What the future holds for Section 230 remains extremely unclear. That ties into the larger question of how, if at all, the U.S. government is going to choose to regulate social media.
B+C: How did you find out you had been nominated to the FCC? NS: I must say I was surprised. I understand that the White House spoke to a number of people trying to determine who they wanted to nominate. I got a call that they had decided to offer me the candidacy. I think they had been interested in a number of the reforms and interagency cooperation initiatives that I had discussed. Even so, there was a lot to learn and a lot of people to meet with and convince. Somehow that wound up with me being here today. B+C: Let’s talk about internet governance and Section 230. The Democrats have said that it was your work on that issue [Simington worked on a petition to the FCC mandated by the president] that got you the FCC job. You say the nomination surprised you. Why do you think the president picked you? Was your Section 230 expertise part of the reason? NS: I would not claim to have been a Section 230 expert when I was hired by NTIA. I developed a certain amount of experience with 230 and knowledge of the related legal and regulatory issues during the course of my appointment there. But, frankly, you could
find any number of people in August or September of 2020 who would have been much more prominent in the Section 230 world than I was. I had never published on it and never participated in a single conference on it. Until as recently as October, I don’t think the position had even emerged that Section 230 was within the FCC’s regulatory competence. Obviously I have become identified by both parties with the Section 230 controversies. To the extent there is any basis for that identification, I want to point out that it is now moot. Whoever is the new chair or acting chair will be the person with the agenda-setting ability and chairman Pai has said no 230 item is going to come up during his tenure. B+C: Do you anticipate it coming up during the tenure of his successor? NS: That remains to be seen. Of course, President Trump has been closely identified with Section 230 and advocated on that, but let’s not forget President-elect [Joe] Biden has also called for repeal of 230. And beyond calls for repeal, I think there are significant 230 reform processes on both sides of the aisle. So, what the future holds for Section 230 remains extremely unclear. That ties into the larger question of how, if at all, the U.S. government is going to choose to regulate social media. I suspect this is going to be the focus of legislation for some time to come as Congress hashes out how, if at all, it wants to address the question. B+C: You told the senators at your confirmation hearing that you would check with the FCC ethics office about whether you should recuse yourself from any FCC item related to Section 230, as Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) argued you should. Did you, and what did they say? NS: Yes, the ethics office at the FCC is not generally in the business of offering advisory opinions without a particular controversy in front of them, so they didn’t want to give me blanket advice. But they did say that on the basis of what they had seen and on the basis of any proposed actions they did not see any basis for recusal and, in the event that an item were to come up for voting, they would revisit that and issue a definitive decision. B+C: So, do you think social media needs regulating? NS: On the larger question of a social media regulatory regime, I don’t think the FCC has any broad power in that area. As far as whether I would like the FCC to take up a Section
In my view, companies can thrive under a variety of regulatory regimes, but the commission has an obligation not to put its thumb on the scale and always to act in the public interest. 230 rulemaking, I think we would need a very detailed consultative process to determine whether, in the end, that was wise. B+C: What is your regulatory philosophy? NS: Coming from private industry rather than the D.C. telecom bar, I put a lot of emphasis on the effect of capital management on business and the difficulties of doing so in an uncertain regulatory environment. On my regulatory philosophy generally, obviously the FCC has a mandate from Congress to act in the public interest and the FCC has an obligation to do so and not to allow its judgment to be clouded by other considerations. As against that, how you implement regulation and how you develop and communicate regulation also matters a great deal. Typically, any kind of corporate initiative will have months or years of lead time, associated capital raises and associated investments, some of which may be nonrecuperable, for example, if ground has been broken on a project. Disrupting those unnecessarily is something to be deplored because it is a pure loss to all parties. In my view, companies can thrive under a variety of regulatory regimes, but the commission has an obligation not to put its thumb on the scale and always to act in the public interest. As against that, communication with the industrial players and with trade groups is very important, including timely and constant engagement so that they don’t get a misperception of what is coming regulatorily and don’t wind up making investments that are unproductive or, on the other hand, cancelling investments that will be productive. B+C: You talked at your nomination hearing about balancing the rights of television companies as part of the public interest. What did you mean? NS: Let’s talk about television specifically. You have a hugely dependent base that varies widely in its ability to access other
forms of information and entertainment. For example, there are some communities that consider themselves well served by a well-functioning and secure local broadcaster and where there are very few cord-cutters. In other communities, you have widespread cord-cutting and browsing among a wide diversity of media. So, a regulatory approach that is only based on one is likely to leave the other out in the cold. Or, if we look and the provision of entertainment generally, prejudging the method by which people are likely to consume media is likely to leave you several steps behind the curve. B+C: Sen. Blumenthal also said at the vote on your nomination that you lacked the candor and independence required for your position. You were not there to respond, would you like to now? NS: Yes, certainly. I fully respect Senator Blumenthal and appreciate that he made his concerns known to the public, but I don’t happen to agree. I believe any comments about lack of candor may refer to his question about whether I had participated in a forum sponsored by Americans for Tax Reform. I was struggling to remember whether I had and answered in the negative. I got a call afterwards from someone saying, ‘Don’t you remember that one group where you talked for a couple of minutes, they were an ATR-affiliated group.’ I thought, ‘Goodness, that’s no good at all,’ and sent a correction on the record to Senator Blumenthal within a day or two. So, I don’t believe that there was any other basis for a statement about lack of candor. I don’t believe that was a lack of candor on my part and I don’t believe that anyone was materially misled and that it would have affected the nomination or the substance of the hearing in any way. As for lack of independence, to the extent that was ever a concern, that was certainly vitiated by the transition of power. B+C: You have been in the majority for a few weeks, but you will be in the minority soon. How do you view that role, kibitzer, persuader, loyal opposition? NS: I think there will always be elements of all of those. The job of the commissioner is to be independent. Obviously nominees have to come from one party or the other, and the president is going to exercise his nominating power in a way that is congenial to his party, but I am looking forward to working with Democrats. I have been building bridges to Democrats and look forward to continuing to do so. In some cases we’re not going to agree. In some cases I may agree with the Democrats and not the Republicans. In some cases I may chart my own course. All I can promise is to make the best decisions I can possibly make based on the best evidence I can possibly put together and to extend the hand of friendship to anyone and try to persuade and where we can’t persuade one another, we agree to disagree. ●
FATES & FORTUNES
People Notable executives on the move BRIEFLY NOTED Other industry execs making moves
Linda Yaccarino has been named chair of the board of directors of the Ad Council. The chairman of global advertising and partnerships at NBCUniversal, she succeeds Facebook chief revenue officer David Fischer.
Comcast has named Dana Strong as CEO of its Sky Group direct-to-home platform in the United Kingdom. She had been president, consumer services at Comcast Cable, responsible for the MSO’s residential business.
Eric Phillips was elevated to president of global distribution strategy at Discovery, focusing on direct-to-consumer partnerships for Discovery Plus. He had been president of affiliate distribution since 2013.
Michele Barney was named president of affiliate distribution at Discovery, responsible for strategic oversight and distribution of its content in Canada and the U.S. She was senior VP, content and programming at AT&T.
Hearst Television has upped John Robertson to VP of distribution, tasked with supervising negotiations with over-the-top platforms and other digital video distributors. He had been senior director of finance.
The International Radio and Television Society Foundation (IRTS) has elected 25-year board member Leo MacCourtney as its new chairman. MacCourtney is president of Katz Television Group.
Ad management technology firm Operative has tapped Hans Fischmann as VP, product strategy, leading its multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD ) market. He had been VP, product management at Xandr.
E.W. Scripps’s national network unit has named Yvonne Haugh as VP, distribution and affiliate relations. She was most recently senior VP, marketing and affiliate relations and chief of staff for Katz Networks.
Brad Samuels was named VP, distribution partnerships and strategy at E.W. Scripps, leading the national network unit’s crossplatform distribution efforts. He was most recently VP, distribution for Newsy.
Damian Riordan was named VP, broadcast distribution at E.W. Scripps’s national network unit. He had been senior VP, broadcast relations for Ion Media, which Scripps is in the process of acquiring.
Rose Jerez has joined WOW! Internet, Cable & Phone as VP of customer success. Most recently a consultant on digital growth and delivery at Fox, she had been associate VP of retention marketing operations at AT&T/DirecTV.
Telemundo-owned station WTMO Orlando, Florida, has named Miguelangel Lopez as vice president of news. He comes from Telemundo station KTLM Rio Grande City, Texas, where he was VP of news since 2014.
John Kearney has joined Aero Wireless Group as chief commercial officer. He had been senior VP, carrier services, Life and Safety Division at Intrado. … Ingrid Ciprian-Matthews has been named executive VP and Washington bureau chief at CBS News. She had been the acting Washington bureau chief since July. … Estrella Media has promoted Arya Towfighi to executive VP, general counsel. He had been a senior VP, overseeing the Spanish-language media company’s legal functions. … The Wireless Innovation Forum has added two directors: Dawn Szelc, lead communications engineer at MITRE, and Claude Belisle, former CEO of Nordiasoft. … Pedro Muñoz has joined digital and programmatic ad firm Vidoomy as VP, Europe sales, based in Madrid, Spain. … Jeremy Darroch has been named executive chairman of Comcast’s Sky Group. He had been CEO. … WPIX New York, acquired Dec. 30 by Mission Broadcasting, has promoted Ofelia Castiblanco to station manager and community affairs director. She had been community affairs director since January 2020.
Data provided by
Ad Meter Who’s spending what where
PROMO MOJO Our exclusive weekly ranking of the programming that networks are promoting most heavily (Jan. 4-10)
MOST-SEEN TV ADS
Brands ranked by the greatest increase in TV spend (Jan. 4-10)
Brands ranked by TV ad impressions (Jan. 4-10)
1 Pepsi Spend Increase:
Discovery Plus ▲ 457%
Est. TV Spend: Top Network:
Est. TV Spend:
GEICO ▲ 313%
Est. Media Value: $3,538,887
Estimated media value of in-network promos With 351.7 million TV ad impressions, an NBC promo for Ted Danson sitcom Mr. Mayor takes first place. Broadcast networks also grab the next three slots, with CBS hyping Clarice in second and Fox promoting Prodigal Son in third, as well as 9-1-1 and 9-1-1: Lone Star in fourth. Closing out the top five: a promo (in partnership with CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN) for the NFL playoffs. Notably, the NFL spot has the ranking’s highest iSpot Attention Index number (138), meaning viewers were on average highly likely to watch it all the way through (vs. interrupting it by changing the channel, pulling up the guide, fast-forwarding or turning off the TV).
1. Mr. Mayor, NBC
TV Ad Impressions Est. Media Value
2. Clarice, CBS
TV Ad Impressions Est. Media Value
3. Prodigal Son, Fox
TV Ad Impressions Est. Media Value
4. 9-1-1 | 9-1-1: Lone Star, Fox TV Ad Impressions Est. Media Value
5. NFL Playoffs, CBS/ESPN/Fox/NBC TV Ad Impressions Est. Media Value
TV Ad Impressions:
Est. TV Spend:
Spend Within Industry:
Est. TV Spend:
$33M 2.21% NFL Football
Liberty Mutual ▲ 256%
TV Ad Impressions: Interruption Rate:
Est. TV Spend:
2.00% NFL Football
Discover Card Est. TV Spend:
Spend Within Industry:
Progressive ▲ 308%
Est. TV Spend:
Apple Mac 336,808,128 $7,615,717
Est. TV Spend:
Total TV ad impressions within all U.S. households, including national linear (live and time-shifted), VOD plus OTT and local
TV Ad Impressions:
Spend Within Industry:
TV Ad Impressions: 351,683,038
TOP 5 PROMOTIONS
Mr. Mayor, NBC
Est. TV Spend:
Spend Within Industry:
TV Ad Impressions:
Domino’s ▲ 242%
TV Ad Impressions: Est. TV Spend:
Spend Within Industry:
1B $12.2M 1.71%
ARE HBO MAX USERS TWICE AS ENGAGED VS. DISNEY PLUS?
B+C’S MOST VIEWED Top stories on broadcastingcable.com, Dec. 14, 2020-Jan. 13.
DISNEY PLUS AND HBO MAX are indeed taking market share away from incumbent SVOD giants Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, Reelgood reported, but it’s HBO Max that’s actually getting a bigger portion of the pie. Reelgood, which aims to direct streaming video users to the content they want, crosssectioned 2 million user streams in the third and fourth quarters. The San Francisco-based company found the share of streams for both Netflix and Amazon Prime Video fell from Q3 to Q4 — from 25% to 22% for Netflix, and from 22% to 20% for Amazon. Notably, HBO Max’s share of streams shot up from 9% in Q3 to 12% in Q4. And Disney Plus’s share increased from 5% in Q3 to 6% in Q4. Hulu stayed flat at 15%. So HBO Max and Disney Plus are both growing market share at the expense of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Fine. Here’s what surprised us: HBO Max controlled twice as many streams as Disney Plus in Q4. Isn't Disney Plus, like, way bigger?
1. ‘Rizzoli & Isles’ Starts on Start TV Jan. 4
3. New Bill Would Finally Make Illegal Streaming a Felony 4. Roku Yanks Charter Spectrum App in Carriage Dispute Switcheroo
For more stories like this, go to nexttv.com
SVOD STREAMING SHARE
2. Dish and Cox End Long Retrans Dispute, Restore 14 Stations in 10 Markets
Disney Plus reported 86.6 million global subscribers in early December. About 30% of them are driven by Hotstar in India, and a big chunk of that number also comes from Europe. While a precise U.S. tally for Disney Plus wasn’t announced, it would seem safe to assume the service’s domestic ranks outpace HBO Max, which reported 12.6 million users, also as of early December. HBO has around 38 million total users in the U.S. and 57 million globally. “Disney Plus does have far more subscribers than HBO Max,” a Reelgood rep conceded. “What we see in our VOD Viewing Insights dashboard is that Disney Plus subscribers are less engaged with the service than HBO subscribers are with HBO Max.” The rep noted that HBO Max released 47% more new movies and TV shows than Disney Plus did in 2020. And as of Dec. 15, HBO Max had 1,300 more titles.%). — Daniel Frankel
15% 12% 9% 6%
5. Verizon Warns Viewers Hearst Signals Could Come Down To read these stories, go to multichannel.com.
SOURCE: Reelgood's VOD viewing insights product
STICKIEST SHOWS Top 10 cable programs ranked by viewer engagement Ratings Rank
Telecast (Week Ending Jan. 3)
2021 Allstate Sugar Bowl
Taking a Shot at Love
2021 Capital One Orange Bowl
90 Day Fiance
The Curse of Oak Island
La Rosa de Guadalupe
Monday Night Football
2021 IIHF World Junior Championship
2020 Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic
The Wrong Real Estate Agent
Start TV; The Curse of Oak Island: History Channel
The Stickiness Index looks at viewer engagement based on several factors. A higher number indicates more of the audience is tuned in for the duration of the telecast. * TV Engagement ratings powered by Comscore’s TV Essentials. (Sorted by social media activity.)
Data provided by
STICKIEST SHOWS Top 10 broadcast programs ranked by viewer engagement
Telecast (Week Jan. 3)
Todo Por Mi Hija
Vencer El Desamor
Sunday Night Football
Imperio De Mentiras
NCIS: New Orleans
The Stickiness Index looks at viewer engagement based on several factors. A higher number indicates more of the audience is tuned in for the duration of the telecast. * TV Engagement ratings powered by Comscore’s TV Essentials. (Sorted by social media activity.)
THE WEEK OF JAN. 4 TV Time users track the shows they're watching on TV via the TV Time app. That data is then used to determine the most-binged shows of the week in the U.S.
Share of binges: 4.89%
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
Share of binges: 3.01%
Share of binges: 2.00%
Share of binges: 1.85%
Share of binges: 1.70%
LAST WEEK: —
LAST WEEK: 3
LAST WEEK: 2
LAST WEEK: —
LAST WEEK: 6
LAST WEEK: 5
Share of binges: 1.35%
Share of binges: 0.93%
Attack on Titan
Share of binges: 0.83%
The Big Bang Theory
Share of binges: 0.80%
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Share of binges: 0.75%
LAST WEEK: —
LAST WEEK: —
LAST WEEK: —
Networks reflected don't include every viewing platform available nor total viewing in share of binge
Top five stories on nexttv.com, Dec. 14, 2020-Jan. 13. 1. Cable One to Launch IPTV Offering
LAST WEEK: 8
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images; Cable One
NEXT TV’S MOST VIEWED
To receive The Binge Report and otherTV Time reports, visit https://www.whipmedia.com/subscribe/
2. Dish and Cox End Long Retrans Dispute, Restore 14 Stations in 10 Markets 3. Comcast to Integrate Disney Plus and ESPN Plus into X1 and Flex 4. New Bill Would Finally Make Illegal Streaming a Felony 5. Roku Yanks Charter Spectrum App in Carriage Dispute Switcheroo To read these stories, go to nexttv.com.
Ratings Americaâ€™s favorite classic crime shows TODAY.YOUGOV.COM
Law & Order
Murder, She Wrote
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
Law & Order: Criminal Intent
Methodology: Based on an average sample size 2,958 who had a positive rating of these shows between January 2020 - January 2021
Data provided by
VUIT’S MOST-WATCHED STATION FEEDS Rank
San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose
Traverse City, Mich.
Hartford-New Haven, Conn.
Meredith Local Media Group
Top 10 local broadcasters streamed on the VUit app
What news event drove tune-in?
WINTER STORM GAIL COVERAGE
* Most out-of-market viewers
STREAMED SHOWS 1
Business First AM Daily news series
Washington Post Live
The Donna Drake Show
The Nutcracker Ballet
The Fly-Over Music Hour
VUIT’S MOST POPULAR ALWAYS-ON CHANNELS Most-streamed channels on the VUit app for December 2020 1. NYC Live Street Cam 2. Politics Uncut 3. VUit eSports 4. PowerNation
Top 10 most viewed pieces of content on the VUit app
VUit original short film
Automotive enthusiast program
Gray TV’s popular series
WWTV on-demand stream
Featured local music
5. Washington Post Live
To watch these channels, go to VUit.com.
Northern Michigan Documentaries
VUit is a streaming service supported by 200 local TV stations. Run by Syncbak with an investment by Gray Television, VUit offers a variety of channels and local station feeds.
By David Smith, Teradici @Teradici
How Media Companies Prevailed Amid COVID-19 Remote work solutions helped programmers keep the content pipeline filled
t’s a new year with a new outlook, but the pandemic has forever changed how businesses will think, prepare and operate for the inevitable future. When the world shut down last March, media and broadcast companies in particular, found themselves at the forefront of this pivotal change as they navigated how to continue delivering and producing content for audiences in a virtual capacity. Major productions were quickly moved remotely and on-air personalities from both news and sports broadcasts continued working from home as we, the viewers, all watched these unprecedented shifts take place in real-time. As the world increasingly turned to news for information, pined over the return of live sports and ramped up its consumption of streamed content, broadcast companies leaned heavily on advancements in technology. These included remoting solutions, online editing applications and collaboration tools, to name a few, allowing them to seamlessly deliver under these unprecedented circumstances. A recent study from Teradici offered insights from nearly 700 information technology decision-makers across global organizations following the first wave of COVID-19, and found that tech and media and entertainment companies expect more than 50% of their teams to continue working from home even after the pandemic is over. Both industries plan to increase their investment in the technology necessary to sustain a remote model by more than 200%.
The Blacklist: Sony Pictures Television
The Network Pivot
Many big networks found themselves with production projects hanging in the balance. Some companies had only begun their early exploration of solutions that would prepare them for a remote work future, but the crisis accelerated that timeline and applications were quickly deployed to support their new virtual workflows. For some media companies, like ESPN, the impact was immediately felt across the editing teams. When COVID hit, editors
ability to continue their creative output without major interruption. For example, A+E Networks U.K. relied on editing solutions from 7FiveFive to help scale its capacity for remote editing. This allowed its artists to continue their work in a secure and compliant environment while working from a remote location. And following the final episode of Picard season one, the CBS All Access team had to find a way to continue creating season two as they were forced to quarantine. In less than a week, they discovered and deployed remoting technology to enable the team of artists to quickly and securely log on to virtual machines from anywhere and continue to create future seasons of the new Star Trek spinoff.
Remote Sports for the Win
working on the Michael Jordan docuseries The Last Dance were only in the early stages of completion. As they navigated working from home to successfully complete the project on time, they quickly looked at new workflows and tools. ESPN engineering soon found a way for its artists and audio technicians to access their workloads through a virtual desktop in the cloud. In the scenario where productions were in the middle of on-set shoots with actors, it becomes more complex to finalize that content. The NBC production team and actors of The Blacklist experienced this very challenge. While they were forced to hold on further in-person production during the mandated stay-at-home period, they came up with a plan to complete the final episodes of the seventh season. In only five weeks, NBC teamed up with Proof animation, where its artists created comic-book-like scenes that would combine with those live-action shots to fill in the final pieces of the show. With technology that compresses and encrypts data, sending it to a user’s end-point device, animators working with NBC’s editing team were able to collaborate on this graphic intensive content to complete the project. For other networks, it was more about the
NBC was able to use animation to complete season seven of The Blacklist.
David Smith is the CEO of Teradici, a creator of personal computer over internet protocol technology and cloud access software.
After sports were put on hold early on, collegiate and professional leagues went into deep discussions about how to return safely. As they considered the details of getting teams back on the field and courts, major production teams were presented with an added technical challenge: bringing live sports production to viewers and airing the highly anticipated NFL draft. With control rooms shut down following stay-at-home mandates last April, NFL Media quickly shifted gears to rethink its approach to its post-production process. Specifically, NFL Network was able to produce content using virtual software from BeBop Technology and AWS cloud computing services. This solution allowed the network to continue producing recorded editions of NFL Path to the Draft and the NFL Mock Draft early on, and also deliver the first-ever live remote NFL Draft, where both players, coaches and the commissioner engaged virtually versus the traditional live, on-stage and in-person format. Companies like Fox Sports have been flexing their remote editing muscles when they used PCoIP (personal computer over internet protocol) Zero Clients during the FIFA Women's World Cup 2019. During the pandemic, this approach was taken a step further, as technicians couldn’t sit in the traditional on-site production trucks. The team at Fox Sports hit a home run in delivering the 2020 World Series by scaling its remote editing capabilities using technology to virtually edit the broadcast content from home. The pandemic unfortunately isn’t going away soon. While media and entertainment and broadcast companies felt its jarring impact in real time, these companies prevailed in innovating their remote-first approach to continue bringing information and muchneeded entertainment to viewers worldwide. ●
THE FIVE SPOT
President, Media+Tech Collective Marketer spearheads a rebrand taking Denver-area industry org beyond cable
olorado native and marketing executive Charlotte Bockstahler is leading the effort to change the former Rocky Mountain Cable Association, much as the pay TV industry has evolved, to include streamed video platforms, satellite and telco providers and other media and tech categories. The RMCA began in 2012 in Denver and succeeded a local CTAM chapter, mostly keeping membership within companies in the cable TV business. Now, the rebranded Media+Tech Collective will welcome new members to join the existing core of 300 members in the still-vibrant cable community. Bockstahler, who worked at HBO and Altitude Sports before founding the boutique marketing agency Vérité Strategies, wants to expand programming, too, while maintaining popular events including a case-study competition (formerly “The Cable Apprentice”) and a golf tournament. Go to mediatechcollective.com for more details. Her conversation with B+C content director Kent Gibbons was edited for space and clarity. In expanding RMCA beyond cable, what are the categories you hope to bring into the mix? The cable industry is evolving, and so we're really trying to evolve with the cable industry. It's video, it's streaming data, voice, IoT, any of those players that are involved. In the past, I think a lot of people looked at RMCA as an extension of CTAM. And there was a big emphasis, in the early days, on sales and marketing. Now we really want to be more inclusive of people of all different disciplines, whether that's finance, HR, product teams. Was there encouragement from within the group for this expansion? Was this
expansion encouraged by your existing members? Yes, starting in 2017, the feedback from members was that the industry is changing. We talked with our members, we talked with our member companies and our sponsors, and said, ‘What do we need to do to best serve?’ This expansion is part of the answer to that question. We’re hoping to see people from all different disciplines, and really connect people of all levels of their careers as well. Over the past year, have you been gathering virtually and how has that worked out? We’ve been getting our toes wet with doing virtual events. We actually did a drive-in event as well. We rented out a big screen, and did a screening of The Goonies to try to socially distance but still bring everybody together. Everyone was able to stay in their cars but still get together. We're going to kick that in the higher gear this year. We've also planned our annual golf tournament, always one of the biggest events of the year. It’s slated for Aug. 12. Fingers crossed, we can move forward as we’re hoping. What are the plans for expanding or evolving the former Cable Apprentice competition? We’ve been able to expand beyond just working with one university — historically, the University of Denver, Daniels College of Business. Last year, we started creating more of a competition between local universities. We’ve got the University of Colorado, Denver, involved, as well as the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. Historically, there have been dozens of students that participated in this case competition and then have gone on to have internships and careers in the cable industry. The competition will be
BONUS FIVE TV shows on your watch list? The Queen’s Gambit, Cobra Kai, The Mandalorian. All-time top TV show? Breaking Bad and most of Game of Thrones. Favorite app? Recently it’s been Pinterest because I’m planning my wedding. Destinations on your vacation bucket list? New Zealand. Ireland. And Tanzania — I’ve always wanted to hike Mount Kilimanjaro. A recent memorable meal — where and what did you eat? My fiancé made a huge breakfast spread complete with mimosas. (I LOVE brunch!) This was at home because … COVID.
kicking off here at the end of January. Students will start working on cases that they'll present on March 6. Is cable still a big part of Denver’s identity? I absolutely believe so. You've got companies like WOW! and Dish, and Comcast and Charter have a huge presence here. We are also seeing a lot more with digital advertising happening locally. There’s tons of growth in Denver in the tech sector just in general. We had Google move to Boulder, Amazon has a huge presence here. So it’s just continuing to grow and, unfortunately, making the housing prices go up. ●
Broadcasting and Cable - January 2021