I just returned from a really illuminating conference. New TeeVee Live. This isn’t something that’s “coming soon.” It’s here and you’re probably watching it. In fact, you’re probably producing it.
The conference was attended by a still small group of the “shakers and movers” in the provider industry. The keynote speakers were Ralph de la Vega, Group President of AT&T and Dan’l Lewin, Microsoft’s Corporate VP, Strategic and Emerging Business Development. Other speakers included Amit Kapur, MySpace and Steve Chan, YouTube and the list went on with panelists of founders and top executives of companies such as Ning, Adobe, MobiTV, etc. The day was very ably moderated by Om Malik of GigaOM and Liz Gannes, New TeeVee. More about the two of them later!
Two others from US Performing Arts attended with me. Craig, who’s in charge of our business development and Jay who heads up our IT management. We all had different prospectives to gain by attending, but a unified reason. What can we learn about New TeeVee that will benefit you?
The conference was still small enough that all the talks, panels and interviews were held in one room. I particularly enjoyed that concept because I didn’t have to pick and choose which workshops to attend and therefore didn’t feel as though I was missing something.
What I did find notably missing was two important groups: WOMEN and television network executives.
Let’s talk first about the missing. If there was ever a conference that should have gotten the television network executives out in force it was this one. In all fairness, CBS was represented by the President of CBS Interactive and a couple of Executive Producers. ABC was represented by a writer/producer from ABC/Yurth. As far as I could tell NBC only had a couple of local representatives from NBC11. It becomes notable when you realize that BBC was represented by their Head of New Service Development. There’s a new frontier out there guys. Don’t sit in the east while everyone heads west for the gold country. I think it’s interesting that New TeeVee’s logo is an old television set. A box! Let’s start thinking outside this box everyone. Let’s be willing to make a real paradigm shift.
The second missing group is either a real tragedy or a great opportunity. I prefer to think it’s the later. Women, where are you? If you’ve been reading my blogs you know that I grew up in a broadcasting environment. If telling my story makes you think I might be an “old dinosaur” let me assure you that I am an innovator and an early adopter but my years have a tendency to give me some perspective and some important history. As a teenager with career dreams I spent as much of my free time as I could in the television control room. I really wanted to be a television director. I wanted to work with actors and blend technology and bring great stories into people’s living rooms. The guys tolerated me but they clearly let me know that the field was closed to women. Today the “talk” is that the industry is no longer gender biased. My women friends who are directing, some of them Emmy award winners, would beg to differ. In order for us to walk that talk women have to become a part of the early organization. So I am challenging you to get into the field now. Help shape what’s to come. Lisa Donovan did it!
In addition to the conference talks we were treated to the announcement of the launch of several new internet companies, mediamelon.com for one. One of the things that was most appreciated by me was the production values of most of what I saw. I think audiences for New TeeVee are going to want to see content, whether it is provided or user generated, that goes beyond what they are sending one another on YouTube. I also believe that we will move more towards long form with more storytelling content, albeit not the traditional television segments that we’re accustomed to now.
Also of note, was the excellent interviewing technique of Om Malik and Liz Gannes. Granted these two are not “newbies.” They’re tried and true journalists with excellent writing skills and a voice. They had no compunction about asking the hard questions of their esteemed guests and they they had a knack of being able to ask the question that was in the mind of the listener/viewer. A truly great gift.
One of the other enjoyable things for me about the conference was listening to the lively debates among the panelists with differing viewpoints. The climate set by the moderators for the day was one of an open forum and that was true of the questions and comments that came from the floor.
One of my “ah ha” deja vu moments was listening to a panel discussion entitled “Cash for Content.” It was moderated by Michael Copeland of Fortune Magazine and as I listened I was taken back more years than I care to admit to listening to a similar panel discussing how to get media buyers to shift radio advertising dollars into the then new medium of television. Does that mean that there isn’t anything that is new that isn’t old?
What did I get from the day? That New TeeVee is not just online video. It will be delivering the right content to the right platform and most importantly allowing the viewer the choice of when, where and what is delivered. It will be a combination of studio produced, user generated and cross-over material. It was also clear that everyone knows changes are happening. They don’t know exactly what those changes will be or how the revenue source will support it but they do know they want to be a part of it. Craig and I know that we want to create a way that our community will be at the forefront.