NYC TV Week: Panel: Good Content Finds An Audience

But Not On Every Platform, Warn Content Execs

New York – Compelling content will usually find a sufficient audience even in the quagmire of distribution platforms that dominate the TV businesstoday, but executives warned that doesn’t mean that audience will be huge or even popular on the platform you want it to be.

“Oprah may not do well on You Tube, but she sure does great on television,” said AOL vice president of business development David Simon at an afternoon panel discussion at The Content Show here moderated by Ratings Intelligence editor A.J. Katz. “Just because you have content doesn’t mean that it will be good on all formats. PewDiePie will never be on television.”

The key is finding what platform works best for the content produced. That means sharing info with advertisers and gleaning data from multiple sources, including ratings, social media and online information.

AMC Networks senior vice president research & insights Tom Ziangas said the problem isn’t the volume of data, but that sometimes the right data is missing.

“Internally we have a lot of information on how people are accessing our content, Ziangas said. “We do know a lot but it’s not complete. We don’t have demographic data to know who’s watching and what is being done in terms of overall viewing.”

Measurement issues have plagued online, mobile and traditional TV platforms from the start, but have become more pronounced as consumers have dramatically increased the level of time-shifted viewing on multiple platforms. Ratings measurement giant Nielsen is working toward a Total Audience Measurement product – as are others like Rentrak and ComScore – that should be released at the end of the year.

“It’s not that good content isn’t finding people, it is finding more people than ever,” said Nielsen managing director, media analytics Chad Dreas. “But for how often and for how long? That is the challenge.”

Content providers also should rethink what audiences they target with their shows. One Caribbean Television president, sales & marketing Mark Walton said that for example, African Americans over-index in viewing content on TV by 25% to 30%.

“Shows like Empire brought the networks out of their doldrums,” Walton said. “English-language [speaking] Latinos, there’s probably another story there. That’s how content finds an audience that targets a certain segment.”  

Walton also said that despite concerns to the contrary, linear TV isn’t quite dead yet. But he said the key to revitalizing that segment is to take advantage of new technologies.

“We have to think about how we can change behavior,” Walton said. “People are tweeting and saying ‘go to this TV program.’ We can take that in, we can get them to go back to that linear screen if it resonates with them.”