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NATPE 2009: Jon Feltheimer Upbeat in Downtimes

NATPE '09: Complete Coverage from B&C

Jon Feltheimer, CEO and co-chairman of up-and-coming studio Lionsgate, called on producers and executives to approach the new digital era of television with vision, flexibility and a willingness to take risks in his opening remarks to this year’s NATPE conference in Las Vegas.

Feltheimer sounded an optimistic note in contrast to the grumbling going on among show attendees about the state of economy. NATPE kicked off on Monday, a day that media analysts are referring to as “Black Monday” after 75,000 layoffs rocked the already stumbling economy. 

“Our media and entertainment industry remains vibrant and ripe with opportunity,” he said. “You just have to look in the right places. In fact, let me say this upfront: Television has never been better. The audiences have never been bigger. Programming has never been more diverse. Or distribution more available. And as a result, our industry has never had greater potential for growth.” 

“What we are witnessing are simple commercial rites of passage -- the passing of one era that is essential to the birth of another,” Feltheimer continued. “Old models don’t die a sudden death – they simply transition to new ones.”

TV is forever departing the era in which the broadcast networks dominate over analog spectrum – likely pushed off a few more months due to impending Congressional action -- and moving to a time in which all content is broadly distributed over multiple digital platforms, Feltheimer said.

“I hear a lot lately that broadcast is dead. Of course it’s dead, but only in the way we used to know it. The old broadcast model of three or four major networks dominating the television landscape 24/7 is as dead as the habit of getting up to change the channel,” he said. “The visionary, the industry leader, recognizes the natural evolution of broadcast networks toward new viewing patterns that better fit today’s consumer, who wants portable and transportable programming to fit his own schedule.”

Part of that changing vision includes adapting to new ways of measuring content viewership.

“Those who adapt best to the changing dynamics of the television landscape will be those who realize there are more television viewers today than ever before, scattered across more viewing platforms, more dayparts and more territories around the world,” Feltheimer said. “The ratings for the individual slices of the pie may have diminished but the slices actually add up to a bigger pie.”

For a complete transcript of the speech, click here.