New York -- The TV industry needs to "be brave enough to
disrupt ourselves before others disrupt us," EPIX topper and cable industry
veteran Mark Greenberg said in a rallying cry keynote presentation Thursday
morning at B&C/Multichannel News' Next TV Summit in New
Pointing to failures of the music industry to thrive in the
digital age as a cautionary tale and the result of "arrogance, ignorance and
indifference," Greenberg called upon the TV industry to return to its roots of
breaking the rules.
He noted the "aha moment" for the music industry came when
the top CEOs searched Napster and found everything was available on the
service—even unreleased tracks. In a follow-up Q&A with Multichannel News editor-in-chief Mark
Robichaux, Greenberg shared that when he started with EPIX, he sat with the
board and Googled "I want to watch Iron
Man" and saw hundreds of illegal sites pop up.
"I thought (Paramount Pictures chairman-CEO) Brad Grey was
going to have a heart attack," said Greenberg, who is president-CEO of Studio 3
Partners, the parent company of the new premium entertainment cable channel
EPIX, which is a joint venture between Viacom, Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate
Greenberg said the path forward for TV is to embrace change,
competition, as well as consumer choice and control in order to be relevant to
Change is a way of life for millennials, he said,
illustrating the pace of change by presenting a couple of comparative images on
a large screen: One, an image of the crowd gathered in 2005 to see the naming
of Pope Benedict, and the other an image of the crowd gathered for Pope Francis
last week. In the 2005 image, the people had no devices in hand. In 2013, a
lit-up mobile device appeared in nearly every hand held up in the air
apparently recording the event.
Greenberg called Internet TV a fourth platform in a long
history of disruptive TV platforms that started with cable, followed by
satellite and then by telcos.
The mantra of the digital age has been "adapt or die,"
Greenberg said. But the real mantra should be "disrupt or be disrupted" and now
is the time to "get back into the disruption business."
Greenberg said one thing that needs to be discussed today in
a real way is cable cord-cutting—not to ignore it: "There's no facilities-based
MVPD, there isn't an operator out there, who isn't freaked out about changes."
And while competition has made the industry
better, he said, adversarial relationships are not productive, calling on
industry members to improve relationships between programmers and distributors:
"We've grown together, we've succeeded together and we want to do more
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