Miami Beach/FL Was the demand “Dare to Disrupt!” bandied about NATPE – Miami 2016 just so much bravado? Or, has the hierarchical, create by committee TV landscape given way to a more democratized production and distribution paradigm?
NATPE’s exposition is at the nexus of North & South America, Europe & increasingly Asia, Africa and Australia; 2016 proving to be a watershed year. ‘Follow you’re calling’, ‘trust your talent’ ,’chase your dreams’ were the ‘words’ on the Fontainebleau floor. A surfeit of streaming TV services, traditional broadcasters, cablers & webcasters were in hot pursuit of original & acquired programming to engage an ever expanding audience.
“The consensus among attendees was demand for content now exceeds supply, with content creators holding the reigns”.
Innovative delivery systems, web based platforms, new cable and online networks, apps and gadgets has flipped the Industry from ‘top down’ to ‘bottom up’. The remote and the swipe are perhaps as powerful as the Nielsen’s ratings in gauging audience tastes. “The media industry is firing on all cylinders,” says Kevin Speedy, Communications Director for FreeCast, the aggregator network and the mother ship behind the brands Rabbit TV and Select TV. “We are the over the top (OTT) of over the top,” Speedy quipped.
These are exciting times for the entertainment and information industry as it goes through one of its periodic upheavals, like the mid century’s breakup of the Studio System and the divestiture of 19,000 theaters. The 70’s saw rogue directors like Tom Laughlin four walling theaters to self distribute his “Billy Jack” franchise or auteur directors Sam Peckinpaw, Lucas and Coppola coming out the gate swinging in the name of creative freedom.
The millennium came to a close with the advent of affordable video cameras, pac man and the internet. McLuhan’s prediction that “the medium is the message”, is for the first time by and for the people. What was happening then is today being referred to as ‘disruption’.
The nation’s economy has radically shifted from tangible, nuts and bolt industries to one focused on entertainment, technology and un vetted information. The fluidity of what drives the nation’s economy is almost impossible to grasp let alone forecast.
With more than 315 exhibitors representing 30 countries new and established players proffered programs for low brow reality TV to a notable rise in dramatic narratives with 400 USA scripted series in play this past year.
NATPE may be likened to a petrie dish that nurtures and distills the sheer volume of content, technology and talent driving the Industry into unknown terrain.
Comes to be Ayn Rand, John Wayne style individualism and self accountability of the 20th century came as a blip between imperial hierarchies that have devolved into a flat new world of mass digital interconnections.
Where no one is in control in an egalitarian Brave New World, except perhaps Zuckeberg envisioning not a billion Facebook ‘friends’ but an entire species, hyper connected by the programmers of Lucky’s Oculus Rift. A world where life becomes a virtual simulation and with the swipe of the hand, games are played with avatars and a midnight triste is an exercise in imagined gender reversal.
But before we give the Internet moguls too much credit for their disproportionate wealth and self serving arrogance lest we forget the real venture capitalists that fueled the internet boom do not live on Sandy Hill Road. The real angel investors were, “We the People” and Uncle Sam and our decades of investment in technological research, infrastructure and application.
On the periphery of the mega networks and studios, compelling independent content creators and niche programmers are attracting audiences ranging from small skews to bizzillions. “The flood gates have opened to incalculable opportunities for producers, distributors and aggregators ,” confirms Celia Evans-Polhemus, Founder of Planet Fashion TV. “Content may be monetized by traditional advertising. Novel approaches are also in place from product integration and accrued revenue that is trackable,” confirms Michael Faircloth, as founder of the Ultimate Guide to the Islands. To heighten consumer experience Faircloth’s company is creating Virtual Reality segments of branded content for clients with art galleries, resorts, services and venues.
Panelists participating in the Fast Track Series featuring Ted Sarandos Programming Director of Netflix, industry icons Norman Lear, Quincy Jones all engaged in lively dialogues with attendees. Hot topics were the mainstreaming of internet content distribution, digital videos move to hyper targeted audiences, the global reach of home grown content and the inevitable dominance of one tap, mobile commerce.
The exponential growth of over-the-top (OTT), acquired and original programming delivered a la carte via Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon and moving on up Crackle, Roku, YuMe AppleTV , Rabbit TV and other digital video-on-demand services – have further raised the conference’s relevance and international profile.
For thousands of executives representing ABC to YuMe and Amazon, Cisneros, Endemol Shine , Google, Netflix, YouTube and emerging webinars that include Julio Neri’s Cine Mania .TV a net caster of his massive library of popular 3rd run feature films and You Tube’s Channel Mum as examples , the stakes are sizzling and there are deals a plenty.
The robust linking of studios, storytelling and brand strategy sees, “Deep-pocket, internet platforms leading the charge in the production of their own content. Not to be up staged by the web works, every linear network is launching their own online platform including HBO Go, HBO Now and Euros nets are offering online Box Sets in “a mad dash to come in second”, said Chris Johnston, of Complex Films with several programs in production, one featuring emerging auctioneer actor Shelby Knick.
The predominately good ol’ boys club with rigid pecking orders and where the odds of getting a green light were on par with winning the Power Ball are being subsumed by a passionate breed of content creators have arrived on the scene. As Adam Reed of Think Factory said , “on the net it is the wild wild West.”
Like their predecessors “Orange is the New Black” and Netflix’s 100 million dollar bet on David Fincher’s “House of Cards” starring Robin Wright and Kevin Spacey entering its 4th Season , the buzz was on Amazon’s “Mozart in the Jungle” with Gael Garcia Bernal and comedy actress Rachel Bloom of “Crazy Ex Girlfriend”, pilots “Z, the Beginning of Everything’ with Christina Ricci and ‘Highston’ with Shaquille O’Neal and Lewis Pullman, a violent Western.
Capturing an Audience
Where to find and how to harness a global audience with varied tastes and standards, while simultaneously securing the Ad revenue to underwrite content production in an ever more stratified and fractionalized marketplace was and is the $64,000 dollar question. The conundrum has been sliced, diced and explored since the advent of the popular, mid – century game show by the same name*. New to the equation is search engine optimization, countless outlets, aggregators, Augmented Realty (AR) and Virtual Realty interactive platforms offering up a whole new world in which people can play and engage.
Lively sessions touched upon ‘Navigating the Wave of New Video Platforms” with Sally Ann Salsano who missed her calling as a stand up comic called out the emperor with no clothes in a refreshing dress down of the industries ironies. Power brokers tend to want to obfuscate the process as a way of holding onto their power. Sally Ann Salsano, Founder/ President of 495 Productions and the creative force behind low brow and high return fare “Jersey Shore”, “Snooki & Jwoww” and currently “Blue Collar Millionaires”, said “Be true to yourself and just go for it”.
Kenny Rudolph – Creator / Executive Producer –Gigging & Grubbing says “NATPE-Miami is a staging area. The ‘beef’ is in the follow up. My advice based on personal experience with our food meets celebrity program ‘Gigging and Grubbing’ is MAKE SOMETHING! Nothing serves a show runner more when engaging established and emerging channels, the short list of preferred TV production houses, and the legacy media/ advertising agencies than having a reel that sizzles. This is also an awrsome way of attracting integrated product placement and production underwriting. It’s hard. But your passion should keep you going.
The consensus among panel members that included Brett Hansen of UTA, Eli Lehrer of Lifetime/A&E, Think Factory’s Adam Reed , Damela Dogan of E! Entertainment and Stephanie Drachhkovitch of 44 Bloc Productions was there are protocols that remain steadfast in getting the dream project’s funded and on the boards. Show runners must have the stamina of Sisyphus to navigate the terrain of original content production with four factors that are sacrosanct.
- Have an idea that is driven by passion, prescience and talent.
- Station executives lean toward hiring a production company with a track record as a hedge on their investment as much as embracing the concept creator
- it is key to have an advocate within the system who can bring the nascent project “accurately” to the hire ups on the feeding chain so the project they green light is the one envisioned by the producer.
- And finally, bring the project to a sympathetic or synergistic outlet, TV station or net platform.
Caption Oculus Rift, Facebook invests 2 billion dollars to hyper connect a Brave New World where individual freedoms are subsumed in a morass of collaborative individualism. Adios, John Wayne.
Caption : Adam Reed , Think Factory, says dare to be disruptive, it is a willd wild West on the Net. The atmosphere was abuzz with respectful to ribald discussions throughout the NATPE campus spilling over into the Fontainebleau’s eleven liquid and light pools.
Caption-Netflix Chief of Programming Ted Sarandos, Quiny Jones, Norman Lear
Caption : Gigging & Grubbing host, Doug Frasure,enjoys a laugh with music legend, BJ Thomas, who was featured in Season 1 of Gigging & Grubbing’s half-hour syndicated TV show.
Lead Image, Outgoing CEO and President, Rod Perth, ‘You will be Missed’!