Broadcasters from the largest and most prestigious station groups used the NAB’s annual Las Vegas wingding to tout the benefits of a truly mobile TV product—national and local news, and entertainment programming, for users on the go. They spoke of devising the “next generation” of local broadcasting—a transformational 24/7 service that would ensure local TV’s relevance for today, tomorrow and beyond.
All of that happened at the NAB Show—five years ago, when a dozen broadcast groups formed the Pearl Mobile DTV coalition. In subsequent years in Vegas, we heard about the Dyle mobile product and its vast potential.
Jump ahead to NAB 2015, where talk of TV Everywhere was everywhere, and a mention of Dyle was harder to come by than taxis outside the Encore. Live streaming was Topic A at most affiliates meetings in Vegas, yet the urgency to get it to the masses is not readily apparent.
Two years ago, ABC announced its Watch ABC mobile app. Its owned stations feature the service, but affiliates currently do not. ABC presented a few different live streaming models to the stations at their meeting April 12. “The business model has not been worked out,” said Mike Devlin, board chairman. In terms of a start date, he said, “everyone wants to know.”
Over at the Fox affiliates board meeting, chairman Jeff Rosser said demand from consumers is not quite there yet, if only because they’re not really familiar with the concept. Two years ago, Fox introduced a live streaming service to affiliates, but no widespread local launch is imminent. “When it starts, it will start fast,” said Rosser.
CBS is perhaps the most motivated in terms of its OTT plans, the network bringing a big bunch of affiliate groups on board for its All Access service. Last month, its affiliates board ratified a framework for station groups to get in on the partnership. The station leaders parsed the details in a special affiliates body meeting held last week in Sin City. They largely seemed to like the terms, yet plenty of questions remain.
“A lot of affiliates don’t fully understand it,” said Michael Fiorile, affiliates board chairman. “It’s a lot to comprehend.”
At the NBC affiliates board meeting, the primary topic was development. “[TV Everywhere] didn’t get a lot of time,” said chairman Ralph Oakley. “They continue to work on it, and we work on it as well.”
NBC’s owned stations, they of the massive markets and well-heeled corporate overlords, delayed their own TV Everywhere launch from last June to the fall, with group president Valari Staab citing “a million-and-one details” to be ironed out. It was February when live-streaming functionality was added to the station apps.
With a surfeit of hurdles, from technology to rights, getting TV Everywhere right is mighty tricky. But the media mogul Peter Guber, in his NAB opening session keynote, implored broadcasters to “challenge your incumbency.” If TV Everywhere isn’t truly everywhere, it is—like some sagging casino situated well off the Strip—pretty much nowhere.
CW STATION CHIEFS PUMPED FOR PRIME
Affiliates of The CW were noticeably amped after leaving their NAB Show group meeting in Las Vegas, due in part to the network’s success in prime, the high-test coffee served in the boardroom and perhaps the appearance of Gina Rodriguez, star of Jane the Virgin, at the confab. In past Vegas meetings, the affiliates urged the network to broaden its appeal beyond young females, and shows such as The Flash and Peabody-winning Jane have done just that.
“Mark [Pedowitz, CW president] and his team have done an exceptional job of enhancing the position of the network with unique and long-lasting programming that reaches [viewers] unlike any other network,” said Tim Busch, Nexstar executive VP and co-COO. “They continue to do better at it.”
The meeting, attended by about 100, gave affiliates a peek at pilots in contention for next season. Those include the epidemic drama Cordon, the talks-to-ghosts series Dead People, a reboot of Tales From the Dark Side and something called Cheerleader Death Squad.
Most of the execs liked what they saw. “You could feel the energy in the room about where the network is headed,” said Mike Stutz, general manager at Gulf California Broadcast Co. “The momentum they have is so impressive; we feel confident about where they are going.”
Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.
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