Cablefax Editorial Director Amy Maclean sat down with Publisher Michael Grebb to discuss Cablefax’s fourth annual TV Innovation Summit on Sept. 22 in NYC. The bottom line: The industry is changing faster than anyone predicted—and no one wants to get left behind.
AMY: This is Cablefax’s fourth year organizing this summit. How has the focus evolved over that time?
MIKE: We have always focused on how programmers and distributors can shift strategy to better reach consumers and preserve a TV ecosystem that not only gives viewers more choice, but does so in a way that keeps the content flowing. In a way, that requires blowing up the old economic model and replacing it with something that works in a multiscreen world. When we started this conference four years ago, anxiety levels were quite high and much of the focus was on how to stop something horrible from happening. Now, people are much more optimistic about the future and much more willing to try new models, whether it’s flexible bundles, skinny bundles, new OTT ventures and beyond. Some of these things will work. Some will fail. But people are much braver now. And that willingness to take more risks has opened up a brand new era of experimentation. It’s very exciting.
AMY: Which sessions excite you the most this year?
MIKE: I hate to pick favorites, but I’m especially interested to hear Craig Moffett’s take on “The OTT Economy” and how the explosion of activity outside traditional linear TV has forced everyone to change their business models and revenue assumptions. Craig is one of the top media analysts, and his research literally drives decision-making at the highest levels in this industry. The idea of a major economic sea change that affects everyone is a big deal, and it’s why we’ll follow Craig’s session with a deeper dive into the topic with additional experts. We’ll also talk more about those new business models in our “SVOD Revolution” panel—and we’ll extend the conversation to both digital and traditional monetization with “The Monetization Game” session in the afternoon. Meanwhile, I can’t wait to hear from companies like AT&T, Comcast and Mediacom about how important the customer experience has become now that people can so easily cut the cord and find high-quality content options available across screens. That dynamic has created an entirely new way of looking at the customer relationship, and we’re going to get into that big time. In addition, topics like Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality, regulatory uncertainty in Washington (and related to the Presidential election) and the fast-changing social media landscape will pop up during sessions throughout the day. It should be a fast-paced and efficient six hours of content.
AMY: Do you worry about packing too much content into those six hours?
MIKE: Absolutely! But here’s the thing: people are invited to so many conferences these days, and too many times sessions start to get repetitive. I’ve often left a one- or two-day conference thinking to myself, “Man, I could have gotten the same takeaways in half the time.” So we’re obsessed with creating the highest value in the shortest amount of time. By keeping most of the sessions to a half hour, with several focused Q&As at 20 minutes or less, we want to make sure we’re hitting all the most important topics, never repeating ourselves and staying laser focused on takeaways that matter. At the same time, we want to work in plenty of time for networking and private meetings, as well as opportunities for registrants to share information, ask questions and interact with each other.
AMY: Speaking of that, how will these brainstorming sessions work?
MIKE: We’re so lucky to have secured the participation of Esther Weinberg, whose Mindlight Group has consulted for some of the top companies in our business. She’s whip smart and will be facilitating two 15-minute brainstorming sessions during the day. Each will give the audience an opportunity to chime in on what they’ve heard so far in the day and even influence sessions that follow. Esther is such a pro at this, and she really knows how to engage an audience. It’s always enlightening—as well as entertaining.
AMY: Ultimately, what do you hope people get out of this summit?
MIKE: I just want people to leave armed with new perspectives and insights—stuff they can take back to the office and put immediately into action. In some cases, that could be a subtle strategy shift that saves time or money. In other cases, it might be a big new idea that creates a brand new revenue opportunity. We want people to leave excited about the future and ready to wow their bosses with bold new action plans that really impact their companies and the business. If we can play even a small part in driving this industry forward, well… I can’t ask for more than that.
For more information on the TV Summit or to purchase tickets, visit: www.CFXTVSummit.com