Simmelkjaer leads international business development for the NBC Sports Group, including Golf Channel, NBC Sports and NBC Sports Radio. In addition, he oversees the NBC Sports Ventures unit, a collection of NBC-owned businesses, including the National Dog Show and the Alliance of Action Sports. Simmelkjaer applauds the recent successes of films “Black Panther” and “Crazy Rich Asians,” and emphasizes that “structures must be put into place to ensure that creators have a chance to be considered for opportunities regardless of their backgrounds, connections or resources.”
A February 2018 UCLA study revealed that of the 45 new scripted shows approved for 2017-18 across broadcast, cable and digital platforms, only four were from creators of color, all of whom were black. What is your reaction to this report?
This report offers confirmation that, although some progress has been made, a great deal of work still needs to be done to offer diverse voices a platform to create great content in our industry. This won’t happen by itself. Structures must be put into place to ensure that creators have a chance to be considered for opportunities regardless of their backgrounds, connections or resources.
What’s a recent example of a step forward for diversity in the industry?
The recent success of films such as “Black Panther” and “Crazy Rich Asians” demonstrates the significant commercial opportunity that exists for content created by, featuring, and appealing to diverse audiences. The cable industry, which is in great need of content that will keep consumers of all backgrounds within the pay-tv ecosystem, should take note.
In what areas should the industry step up its efforts with regard to diversity and inclusion?
Every job opening at any company in our industry should be filled only after a diverse set of qualified candidates is interviewed.
What’s your best advice to someone just entering the video content/distribution industry?
My advice is to be entrepreneurial, whether in a large or a small company. The status quo is being challenged every day in every part of this industry. Be a disrupter—not among the disrupted.
What’s been the most dramatic change in your sector of the business today vs. three years ago?
The pace of technological disruption has only accelerated over the last few years. I believe the old mantra that “content is king” has been replaced by “platforms are primary.” Dominant platforms like Netflix, Amazon and Twitch are able to use their significant financial resources to create award-winning content. The cable industry must find ways to make cable TV a great platform. My colleagues at Comcast are leading in this regard with the X1 platform.
If there were a reality show based on your office, what would it be called?
“Ballers: Stamford Edition”