SCAD aTVFest 2019 or… "THE REVOLUTION WILL BE STREAMED"
Almost every year for the past seven years, I have had the honor of speaking at the Savannah College of Art and Design, “aTVFest."
It is described in their PR as "the longest running of the SCADFILM festivals and an international event celebrating the latest in design, creativity, and innovation in television and media. Working professionals from all spheres of content production gather for screenings, premieres, panel discussions and workshops. Explore the latest trends in broadcast, streaming, cable, web, social media and advertising, and see the best work airing today.”
True to form, the festival was chock full of screenings, stars, executives, producers, directors and writers. Each night there was a reception with attendees, students, teachers and the casts and crews of the shows being presented and the speakers from the panels. It was a great way to network and meet people with similar interests.
For me, it was a way to find out what is on the minds of the people working in the business and the people who want to.
This year I had the privilege to host two discussions. “Event TV: Live,” with former ABC and NBC Executive Producer, Mark Lukasiewicz, the current Dean of the Hofstra School of Communication. Here is how the talk was described: "Live coverage of large and global events is, to say the least, a challenge. To shoot and air political conventions, live concerts, a day in the White House or the election of a new Pope requires immense planning and the ability to seamlessly work around the unexpected. Meet Mark Lukasiewicz, a man with unrivaled experience and success doing just that, and the awards to prove it. Frank Radice interviews this television legend who has covered the largest live events with ABC and NBC news for more than 30 years.”
The second was “Below the Line: Demystifying Post Production." It was described as: "a discussion on various tools, techniques and career strategies used in television, including workflows, new technologies and how to get your first job in this highly competitive field. This panel demystifies the post process and offers fun anecdotes about situations that inevitably occur on the job.” The panelists included the following:
- Dan O’Sullivan - Composer/Sound Designer, DEFINITION 6
- Skip Chaisson - Owner, Skip Film & Chief Creative Officer, El Rey Network
- Ellen Kahn - Executive Creative Director, Twinart
- Alex Brownley - General Manager, Sim Atlanta
- Drew Sawyer - Partner and Post-Producer, Moonshine Post-Production
The rooms were packed, the panels were informative and entertaining (if I do say so myself), and the questions from the audience continued well after the panels were finished.
As happy as I was that these two events were so well attended, I was curious to see how the television community presented itself in the “New Normal” of today’s disrupted content distribution environment. When I first spoke at aTVFest 7 years ago, Broadcast TV was dominant and cable tv was hot on its heels. But this year marked a difference that should come as no surprise.
Streaming is now on everybody’s mind. In fact, of the 22 shows that were screened at the fest, 13 were a traditional network TV, 4 were from cable and 5 were online (from Crackle, Hulu, YouTube, and Netflix). And I met people from Amazon and CBS All Access.
The discussion always edged toward how these and other players compete in the modern disrupted distribution space. The primary differentiator is clearly the content and storytelling. Something for everyone on a schedule that is controlled by the viewer.
It will be hard for new and smaller players to make it in a landscape that is dominated by the likes of Amazon, and Netflix, so a new dynamic will need to come into play.
Success will in no small part be determined by more than a ton of great programming and viewer choice. It will also depend on financial success. As my friend, ManMadeMusic CEO, Joel Beckerman says, “the streamers will only be able to turn a profit with the addition of advertising.” Sounds in part like the broadcast TV model to me, augmented with the best of streaming…watch what you want, when you want.
If the viewer of today can accept ads, this may be the way the revolution succeeds. If so, “The Revolution Will Be Streamed.”
One more thing…
I predict that Broadcast TV will be the home of “Event TV,” breaking news, sports, and live programs. Cable will continue to serve the discerning viewer of Drama and Comedy, while the stream will encompass all of it, but be delivered in a binge-worthy way that appeals to the modern consumer.