From broadcast to cable and beyond, INE Entertainment (Hayley Ever After) Managing Partner Eric Day offers his thoughts on scripted versus reality, emerging platforms and his pet peeve regarding “peak TV.”
Cynopsis: With rampant cord cutting and the growth of skinny packages, do you think consumers will be willing to pay a premium for access to networks focused on high-budget dramas?
Eric Day: Yes, we believe consumers will always be willing to pay a premium for high quality programming of all genres. Not just dramas. There are plenty of unscripted shows that still drive the water cooler conversations at offices and schools across the country, and people want to be in on those conversations instead of on the outside.
Also, I believe parents are looking for family friendly programming they feel comfortable letting their children watch, and the high budget dramas certainly don’t fall in to that category, given the pushing of the content envelope.
We don’t believe people categorize content like the industry does, they talk about shows that are relevant to them, inspire them, wow them whatever the genre – be it drama, comedy, or unscripted.
Cynopsis: Reality and scripted/dramatic series are often pitted against one another, and drama appeared to pull ahead in the time of “peak TV.” Do you think there’s room for both?
Day: This is one of our pet peeves! As a company, we don’t find that drama has pulled ahead.
From the continued successes of network franchises like The Voice, The Bachelor, Survivor, Big Brother, to the launch of new franchises including World of Dance and Game of Games, we believe reality actually is as much – if not more – of an engine for broadcast networks.
When it comes to cable, although some scripted series like Unreal have gained a lot of critical traction, their ratings aren’t the ones driving the network’s performance. When we factor in the price point/economic model for these scripted series, again, the value of reality is borne out.
A lot of insider publications pay more attention to scripted series, but if you look at more consumer-facing weekly publications the talent and stories they are talking about are those in reality franchises. And this isn’t limited to the Kardashians! Evidenced by Blake Shelton being People’s Sexiest Man, and the social media stars who are building large audiences and viable businesses both in and outside of traditional models. There is always room for great shows, whatever the genre.
Cynopsis: Where do you see audiences going in the next 5 years? How do social platforms like Facebook Watch and YouTube Red fit in?
Day: Audience patterns will continue to evolve – as they have always done – but that doesn’t mean it’s time to throw the baby out with bath water, so to speak, and abandon traditional models. The big broadcast networks and the cable networks still have a great ability to launch shows and reach their audiences when they make great, relevant content and talent. Yes, there are a dizzying array of choices for consumers which has led to audience fragmentation. But, the good news is that people are actually consuming more content than ever, which can only be a good thing for content creators. However, how success is measured or viewed needs to change.
The emerging platforms are great, fresh voices in the marketplace, and because they’re new, from our perspective, it looks like they’re taking more creative risks and being more courageous in their decision-making. Maybe it’s because they don’t have the data or history giving them a reason to be overly cautious. Hollywood is littered with stories about shows that barely managed to survive before thriving. The art of nurturing and building of shows is being lost, and the knee jerk ratings reaction pulling of a show from the schedule is one, that we feel, is counter to building a network business.
Cynopsis: Do you foresee more integrations between telecoms and content providers, such as the partnership between AT&T and Netflix for free subscriptions?
Day: Yes – it seems to make obvious sense given how and where people are consuming content. When people are watching Game of Thrones on their phones, it’s clear that people are prepared to watch even those shows biggest in scope and scale on a small screen.
Cynopsis: How do you identify demand or gaps in the market when developing a new project?
Day: Obviously we are always trying to look at the trends we’re seeing in the larger world. Additionally, a core focus is trying to identify talent. That remains a key differentiator, as it’s hard to find. But when you do, you know you have something.
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