Cynopsis: Leadership Insights


Cynopsis Long Story Short


Tuesday March 24, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc in every corner of society, and the media community is no exception. But as we deal with the ongoing crisis, how do we position ourselves for a post-coronavirus world? Cynopsis asked thought leaders and those in the trenches in different areas of the business to share their insights on the best path forward.

“The media industry is first and foremost trying to find ways to be helpful to people and society at large at this time, by helping to disseminate accurate information and preventing the spread or sponsorship of disinformation and misinformation. Agencies have a big role in both of those functions, much of which will continue after the current phase of the crisis is over. In the immediate aftermath, agencies will also have an important role in helping marketers manage through economic challenges that will follow for many. This will often mean enhanced efforts to find increasingly efficient ways to steward budgets and engage with audiences, whose habits will undoubtedly change as a consequence of this period of time.”
Brian Wieser, CFA, Global President, Business Intelligence, GroupM

“It goes without saying that the Coronavirus has created a completely unprecedented situation for all of us. For the broader media community, I think it’s more important now than ever to have a robust multiplatform strategy to showcase an even wider range of programming. This allows viewers to engage with the content on the platform that they enjoy watching most. On Wednesday, Discovery and Science Channel will simulcast a special at 10 PM on the coronavirus that will also be available on our Discovery Go app. Beyond bringing the latest news on COVID-19, we recognize that our viewers want an escape from everything going on around them. We have a vast library of beloved programming across Discovery, Animal Planet and Science Channel. We’re airing “comfort food” marathons of old favorites like MythBusters, Dirty Jobs and Crocodile Hunter. On Animal Planet, we’ve been doing a marathon of Too Cute – because we all just need to look at cute animals right now.”
Nancy Daniels, Chief Brand Officer, Discovery & Factual, Discovery, Inc.

“Much of what the media industry will need to do will depend on how long the crisis lasts – and concomitantly, how long Covid-19 halts show production, suspends sporting events, forces people to work from home or into unemployment (which can change value equations), and more. However, we know that there are some immediate some immediate questions, challenges, and opportunities for companies to consider, including:

How are media behaviors, such as watching live TV and co-viewing changing as people adapt to life at home?What are consumers thinking about their subscriptions to TV services? For example, now that people are home, are multichannel services even more attractive than ever before – or are people so concerned about their financial situation that cord-cutting will become more aggressive?How is news consumption changing? Are people watching local/national/international news more? Which news brands do they trust for the best information on the crisis?What kind of entertainment content do people crave in these times? What media brands are best positioned to engage consumers nowadays?How receptive are consumers to advertising in this crisis? Are there some kinds of ads/messaging that is more appropriate/less appropriate?”
Adriana Waterston, SVP, Insights and Strategy, Horowitz

“This is a moment for all businesses and their leaders to double down on credibility, comfort, community, continuity, and communications. It’s a time for real, fact-checked, national and local news organizations to take a front seat. It’s a time for leaders to keep their teams intact and working for the greater good. It’s a time to remind people of the joys of friends, families, and colleagues, even at a distance. Most of all, it’s a time to be in touch.”
Randall Rothenberg, CEO, IAB

“The media community should continue to position itself as the essential means to connect viewers and products/services providers. Indeed, some have said that content is just a means to connect the two. Whether in a time of pandemic or normal life – TV is as it ever was – the most trusted and necessary means of keeping communities connected. We may only be at the beginnings of a COVID-19 world and as such advertising is a critical form of content as more Americans stay at home. Advertising is as valuable as news, entertainment or information, and that’s why it lives alongside them all. Advertising subsidizes the cost of the TV ecosystem, but we need to sell, traffic and target advertising in a more cost-effective means as all businesses (aka advertisers) tighten their belts. The end result is that advertising will continue to be the cornerstone in connecting viewers and communities nationwide and will become even more relevant and more efficient in a post-coronavirus world.”
Mark Lieberman, Viamedia CEO

“I’ve spent the past week anchoring three hours nightly of special coverage (1-4AM/ET) of the COVID-19 outbreak and I’m quickly realizing the appetite for news and information is at levels I haven’t seen since 9/11. Viewers are pushing back making it clear they don’t want a series of headlines or bullet points, they want reason, context and perspective. Meaning if we put numbers on the screen, we had better explain where we got the numbers, how we got the numbers and why the numbers are important in the fight against Coronavirus. Same goes for interviews. Are the guests we bring on offering insight into how the country is best suited to address the outbreak or offering opinion meant to gin up fear and anxiety? I’m finding an insatiable desire for the former and zero tolerance for the latter. Bottom line is this virus has directly or indirectly affected all of our viewers, and because of that they have educated themselves on the facts and are now in search of the meaning and direction. There’s a reason Fox News is providing continuous coverage 24 hours a day, and it’s because the need for insight, depth and solutions has never been higher.”
Trace Gallagher, Fox News Correspondent

“Coronavirus will change our society the way WWI did. The way we work and think and communicate and spend and save, will all be touched by this moment. In the media world, the majority of the changes will be felt in the interim moments of unknown outcome – of course advertising of all kinds is currently in flux – but in the aftermath, I think no change will be felt as fundamentally as the doubling down brands will do in underscoring their humanity and their values, which will affect the timbre of advertising vernacular writ large. What does this mean? More branded content of all kinds, including podcasts we make at Wonder Media Network, that is additive to people’s lives and recognize that consumers are getting smarter about our collective impact on global health (and don’t come across as tone deaf). This provides an opening for media production studios and platforms to sell higher value, more integrated packages to brands with something big to say. Additionally, as folks make the leap to WFH on a mass level, Twitter will become more important than ever, and content farms peddling clickbait will matter less and less.”
Shira Atkins, CMO and co-founder, Wonder Media Network

“TV Time recently ran a survey asking viewers what was motivating their viewing choices while they may be staying at home. A majority said to give them an escape from reality (73%), to make them laugh (72%), with comforting them at about half (53%). This indicates that viewers are looking for an escape from today’s headlines. Streaming platforms can take advantage of this trend by marketing or surfacing more light-hearted content on their platforms. Also, platforms need to make sure their catalog is robust because there is much more viewing taking place now and people will go to a different platform if they don’t find what they are looking for.”
Carol Hanley, Chief Revenue and Strategy Officer, Whip Media Group

“Coronavirus has already and will continue to impact the state of media in a few ways. First, agencies and brand marketers will have to prove ROI for their media investment. Secondly, they may need to shift their media strategy to better engage consumers. Now that a majority of consumers are no longer traveling or going outside, advertisers will need to assess the value of billboards and digital out-of-home ads compared to OTT and CTV ads, as consumers are streaming more and more content than usual as a result of staying inside and social distancing. Lastly, agencies and brands may have to update their creatives to be more in line with the tone of the current environment.”
Andre Swanston, CEO and Co-Founder Tru Optik

To share details about Upfront virtual events and news, email [email protected]

“Social distancing and self-quarantining are having profound impacts on local economies and personal finance in a way we have never seen before. This is uncharted territory. Consumer spending represents roughly 70% of our GDP. This means in order to rise back up we must get consumer spending back up. As a successful local business your advertising messages during this time should reflect your value to and membership in the community. Every local business should be thinking through how they might virtualize some form of their local offerings and deliver them over the internet. When times get tough, we turn to our TV and computer screens for both news and entertainment. Make sure you’re there, too!”
Aman Sareen, CEO and Co-Founder, ZypMedia

“There is no doubt that the coming weeks and months will test us in new ways. The role of IAB is to keep the industry moving forward while facilitating collaboration and best-practice sharing within the community. The industry has shown time and time again that we can work together to overcome challenging markets. We are resilient, and should continue to show humanity, empathy, and consideration for one another while we support the advertising ecosystem.”
David Cohen, President, IAB

“The Hallmark brand is built on togetherness, positivity, and celebration of the human spirit, things that are now more important than ever. Many people are feeling isolated and uncertain, and it is our hope that our programming brings viewers some measure of comfort and a sense of optimism.”
Michelle Vicary, EVP, Programming & Network Publicity, Crown Media Family Networks

On that new hire, new exec, and team member!

Talk about a warm welcome! Share your team’s excitement about that new mid-to lower position hire by

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“The relevancy of real-time, accurate, data-driven weather news is growing exponentially. The impact weather is having and will continue to have during our current crisis – and the confidence and utility that we drive to our viewers during this time – will only reinforce the need for the type of science-based news and information programming we provide.”
Sarah Katt, AccuWeather Network General Manager

“During challenging times people are searching for positive programming that they can trust to make them feel good. Making it available to families through our streaming service, UP Faith & Family, at no cost during the pandemic helps foster an even deeper relationship with viewers.”
Charley Humbard, UP Entertainment CEO & President (UPtv, aspireTV, UP Faith & Family)

“As you’d imagine, during these difficult times the demand for news is at an all-time high. As a global media organization, we’ve had to quickly adapt to new challenges our feeds and partners are facing daily, while we continue to strive to operate efficiently and effectively in each part of the world. For example, our editorial news staff has been directly impacted by the ‘stay at home’ measures, but it remains important that we continue to do our very best to keep our viewers informed and up to date regarding the evolution of the Coronavirus pandemic. Our utmost priority is to stay on air and continue to offer the best news and entertainment programming we can provide for our viewers. I stress the entertainment options – including films, series, lifestyle programs and documentaries – because today and in the long-term people always need engaging distractions from the realities of the day.”
Patrice Courtaban, TV5MONDE USA Chief Operating Officer

“One of INSP’s pillars is providing an environment that viewers can trust. We consciously look for content that entertains with timeless stories and heroic characters: Men and women who have faced obstacles and whose example reminds us that we, too, can overcome adversity. Our schedule presents a welcoming environment anytime during the year but particularly during times of uncertainty.”
David Cerullo, Chairman and CEO, INSP

“We have always prepared for equipment failure or loss of facilities. This advance preparation and investment have yielded a strong and stable platform for us to broadcast during the crisis. Uniquely at CNBC, we must operate at our highest levels because of the ongoing market volatility. It is clear we will continue to leverage the same technology to make it easier for market movers, CEOs and experts to appear on our network going forward.”
Steve Fastook, SVP of Technical Operations, CNBC

Cynopsis Team

Lynn Leahey
Editorial Director
Kerry Smith
Division President
Access Intelligence

Roberta Caploe

Cynopsis Ad Sales
Mike Farina


Albert Nassour


Cynopsis Job Listings Sales
Trish Pihonak
Director of Operations



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