We asked a trio of young, rising executives to ponder New Media trends and opportunities for women. Our panelists: Rebecca Glashow, SVP, Digital Media Distribution, Discovery Communications; Jennifer Kavanagh, VP, Digital and New Media, Oxygen Media; and Lisa Choi Owens, GM, Scripps Networks Digital.
CableFAX: The Magazine: What will be the biggest changes in digital and New Media in the next few years?
Rebecca Glashow: The biggest industry-wide changes will be in the competitive ways to deliver video content and how it’s consumed. How do we find ways to engage consumers on these platforms that are complementary to our television subscription business and not competitive with it? How do you work with different screen sizes without creating a competitive way to access your network?
Jennifer Kavanagh: The continued shift from the wired Web to the mobile Web and folded into that, how social media plays into everything. It’s a shift content companies and the marketplace are going to be forced to think more strategically about. The onus is on us to understand what this ultimately means for our business.
Lisa Choi Owens: I certainly hope for, and believe, there will be a catch-up period for business models with the adoption rates of consumers. Second, there will continue to be a proliferation of new technology. I don’t see any kind of standard being created across all the platforms in a 2-3 year horizon, but within 3-5 years.
CFTM: Digital strategies seek engagement with viewers away from their TVs. What are you doing to prepare for that environment?
JK: We’ve discovered there’s an appetite for co-viewing behaviors, and I would say it’s platform agnostic — the show itself is one aspect of it, and the connectivity to talent, friends and other fans in real time is the other part. We realize it’s a responsibility of ours to create this experience everywhere she is when she decides to consume it.
LCO: I don’t think new digital strategies are trying to take people away from their TV, and the TV set is not going away. In fact, there are now more TV sets per household. And that number continues to grow. I believe some of the business models around TV will change, but I don’t think that TV and new media are an either/or proposition. I think people just want more control over when and how they get to see content, but people still want to be "programmed," too. It’s not always going to simply be the 30-minute or one-hour programming format, but we need to continue to create excellent content and engage consumers. If we do that, I think we’ll be able to not only survive but triumph, even amidst all the change.
CFTM: Are there issues you’d like to see the Digital and New Media field address?
LCO: To strip away the notion that it’s only about technology. When [it seems to be only about technology] you naturally are not going to attract quite as many women, or as diverse a talent pool as you might if you were to describe it as it really ought to be — media.
RG: I think the cable industry, for the most part, has done a great job of taking advantage of new technology and not running from it.
CFTM: What kinds of opportunities in cable are not as open to women as they should be?
RG: There’s not one branch here at Discovery that I work with that doesn’t have women represented.
JK: I agree. I honestly can’t tell you that there’s a glaring place that needs attention and focus… there’s unlimited opportunity in cable.
LCO: It’s not that certain opportunities are not open to women, rather there’s a self-selection process. There are fewer women who have an IT background… so they self-select out of jobs that are more technically oriented.
CFTM: Has cable come far enough in terms of senior executive opportunities for women?
RG: Yes. We have female GMs running the majority of our networks.
JK: Women are running successful companies and setting lots of precedents. That to me signals a tremendous amount of opportunity for women at the highest levels of cable.
LCO: Cable has provided a lot of opportunities for women. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here. I know it doesn’t happen overnight, but if we do a better job of marketing ourselves away from strictly "cable" and toward entertainment, media and consumer engagement, we will have an easier time attracting more diverse talent.