Todd Juenger officially joined Sanford Bernstein as its newest media analyst in March, and he has
already made an impact. The Harvard Business School grad and former TiVo executive — he ran the DVR
pioneer’s research unit — started out at Procter & Gamble, then moved on to consulting work at
McKinsey & Co. before landing at publisher Primedia, where he met one of his greatest mentors, former
NBC executive Tom Rogers. Juenger followed Rogers from Primedia to private-equity giant Cerberus
Capital and finally to TiVo. Since joining Bernstein, Juenger has managed to make his own mark — his reports are
considered to be insightful, packed with data and a little irreverent.
In April, he issued his most controversial report so far, one that tied Netflix and subscription video-on-demand viewing
of kids’ programming to ratings declines. While some embraced the research (like Time Warner Inc. CEO Jeff Bewkes) and
some did not (like Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman), everyone took notice. Perhaps more importantly, Juenger’s research
has started a dialogue in the industry around the issue of subscription VOD viewing and ratings. Last week, Juenger spoke
with Multichannel News senior finance editor Mike
Farrell about his decision to move to the sell side,
his most controversial research to date and his
outlook on the advertising and media landscapes.
An edited transcript follows.
MCN: You specialized in understanding consumer
media consumption habits at TiVo —
what they actually do, not what they say they do.
Is that your function at Sanford Bernstein, too?
Todd Juenger: When I was at TiVo, I was doing
a lot of different things, but my primary responsibility
for the majority of my time there was
trying to create and grow an audience research
business using TiVo set-top box data — the idea
being, for the first time in decades, [to create]
a new lens into people’s consumption of video
content that comes from somebody other than
the Nielsen Co.
I firmly believe that there are a lot of commonly held
beliefs in the media space which circulate and become
accepted sometimes as truth with very little actual data
to support [them].
An example of that is this whole notion of cordcutting,
the idea that there are massive amounts of consumers
dropping pay TV to become cord-cutters, and
there is a huge amount of conversation that goes on in the
space. Everybody claims to know somebody who has cut
the cord, but when you look at the pay TV subscriber numbers
and put that up against household-formation numbers
and census numbers, [you]
can’t find where all these people
Another more recent example,
more directly tied to my
space, is this whole debate about
Netflix and how Netflix does or
does not affect consumption of
MCN: That report — where
you analyzed set-top box data
from TiVo to show that subscription
VOD viewing of kids’
programming was cutting into
ratings — rattled a few cages.
TJ: I was proud of that piece,
because it lived up to what you
first described, bringing some facts into the discussion. The
data isn’t perfect, no data is
perfect, but now we have some
data to talk about. Clearly to
the extent I can play a role doing
that sort of thing, I think it’s
a valuable contribution to the
discussion. We’re in the media
space and we love to talk
about each other, and the media
loves to cover the media.
It’s amazing how beliefs can
escalate, and pretty soon they
are accepted as fact and [are]
not always reflecting what is
MCN: You didn’t please
everybody. Viacom CEO
Philippe Dauman alluded to
your report on a recent conference
call, stating that Netflix
viewing of Nickelodeon shows
is very small.
TJ: My clients, the people I am
serving, are investors, not the
companies. It takes a little time
to make that adjustment. I have been an industry participant
for close to 20 years. I am used to being inside
the industry. I love this industry and I love the participants
in this industry and I love the products this industry
puts out. I love entertainment and I love TV and
I’m not ashamed to say it.
The Netflix report that I put out there, it was really
striking to me how some of the companies have reacted
to that. They haven’t reacted personally to me. I
haven’t had the benefit, and I would welcome it, to sit
down with anybody directly at the companies and talk
about it. That’s sort of up to them if they want to get into
that conversation. Hopefully, over time those conversations
I think the networks are struggling with the question
as much as investors are and I hope they have their own
research going on to try and understand that equation.
There is definitely no consensus opinion from the networks’
point of view. It’s a really important topic, and I
will continue to scour the globe for data
to bring to the conversation.
MCN: What made you decide to move to
the analyst side?
TJ: It’s ironic that I spent most of my postbusiness
school career trying to work
myself toward an operating role. Having
finally got there, what I realized is that being
an operator is really, really hard, and I
have a ton of respect for the people that do
it, but for me, it really wasn’t what turned
me on. People who are good at it have more
respect from me than they’ll ever know.
It was that light bulb going on, along
with this very particular opportunity with
Sanford Bernstein that came my way, that
led me here.
They [Bernstein] do have a history of a
great media team — before me was Michael
Nathanson, before him was Tom
Wolzien — they have a fabulous track record
in media analysts. They afford you
the luxury to do more original and deeper
strategic thinking about the industry. It’s
just a wonderful platform.
MCN: What’s your outlook for the advertising market
TJ: I’m fairly optimistic. In terms of the indicators for the
outlook for the year, there are strong signs of healthy demand.
I think mid-to-high single-digit [pricing increases]
would be my outlook, and it might sort of err toward
the high-single digits rather than the mid-single digits.
Longer term, I’m a firm believer that TV advertising will
be just fine, thank you very much.