Snackable Content Broken Down at Atlanta TV Fest

The panel “Snackable Content for Any Audience” at SCAD aTVfest in Atlanta looked at Quibi and what the streaming platform might offer to producers of short-run content. The market is hot for shorter content, the panelists said, as networks put real budget into snackable stuff, instead of tacking it onto TV producers’ daily chores.

Jay Blumenfield, co-founder of production outfit The Jay and Tony Show, spoke of the proprietary tech at Quibi, where producers shoot different shots to cater to viewers who watch on their phones horizontally, and for those who watch vertically.

Quibi is scheduled to launch April 6.

Blumenfield said Quibi has lighthouse shows that “bring the masses,” the lower tier, which is more unscripted, and daily essentials. “It’s all about the phone,” he said. “You can only get Quibi on the phone.”

Brian Balthazar, producer and host, Pop Goes the Week, moderated the panel. Cindy Bertram, executive writer, Bertram Ink, said show pitches used to be detailed and often prolix. These days, a pitch’s message is delivered in a few sentences. “Everything is the point, do this, with the action words first,” she said.

Alyssa Kaufman Kopp, executive producer, Flynnside Out Productions, said the best short-form shows “lead with the most exciting shot.”

Anything with animals in it, she added, seems to deliver big-time views.

The panelists believe it’s a good time for producing short-run stuff. Blumenfield noted how self-driving cars will free up viewing time for commuters. “The thought is, people are going to have a lot more time,” he said.

The panelists stressed being collaborative with networks, to a point. Don’t tell them about their audience, because they already know. Produce your program at its proper length and don’t cut it or puff it up to fit what the network wants.

“What we found across every distributor is, they know their audience really well,” said Dana Olkkonen, head of content operation, Vox Media Studios. “Try to find what is the best storytelling we can do given those restraints.”

Blumenfield suggested producers meet the networks, and their requests, halfway. And, he added, tune out your critics. “You’re still kind of making art and you have to hold onto your vision,” he said. “The loudest people in the Twittersphere are ruining the artistic vision.”

Michael Malone

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.