Next TV: Beggs on Why Defining Internet Hits Can Be ‘Like an Election in Chicago’

Defining success for a show on an OTT network is an inexact science, according to Lionsgate Television Group chairman Kevin Beggs, who participated in a keynote Q&A Tuesday at the Next TV conference in Santa Monica, Calif.

Beggs declared Lionsgate-produced Hulu original series Deadbeat “a hit show.” Asked by B&C editor in chief Melissa Grego what constitutes a hit on Hulu, which does not release viewership numbers, Beggs said (to big laughs), “They call it a hit, and thus I call it a hit, too. You’ve got to think of these networks like an election in Chicago. They declare victory early and often.”

Beggs also declared Hulu “more forthcoming” about its viewership than some of its digital competitors, and pointed out that Deadbeat was listed among the network’s most watched shows following its release. Lionsgate also produces Orange is the New Black for Netflix, and Beggs said that measuring success on OTT is about buzz.

“Is [a show] of the moment and do I have to have it?” Beggs said. “It’s a marker that’s not quite a quantifiable marker. You know what it is when it happens.”

Discussing another of the company’s signature hits, Beggs was asked if the final episode of Mad Men has yet to finish shooting.

“Not quite yet,” Beggs said. “We’re still spending money.” He then went on to talk about how important the series has been to everyone involved. “It’s been an incredible gift and growth engine.”

Beggs contrasted the studio’s success in scripted drama with its success in syndicated television, led by division Debmar-Mercury. He cited Family Feud, which he claimed is earning its highest ratings ever.

“Those shows take a lot of work,” Beggs said of Mad Men and its ilk. “It’s like reading an important novel—and you can’t just half-read it. Then there’s television that should be and always will be comfort food-esque,” such as Feud. He added, “All of that has a place in the television ecosystem.”