VEGAS -- Network affiliates held their annual NAB Show meetings
in Las Vegas, with discussions ranging from new programming to strategies for
dealing with Aereo and expanding second screen initiatives.
ABC affiliates board and its network reps are moving ahead on discussions
related to what the parties are calling “geo-targeted streaming”-the live
streaming of local and network content under the “Watch ABC” rubric. Dave
Boylan, chairman of the affiliates board, said the discussions are very early,
but have thus far been encouraging. “There are a lot of points that have to be
worked out between the network and the affiliates,” he said. “It’s really just
a first conversation.”
The affiliates celebrated
the year anniversary of “Good Morning America” taking over the top
slot in the morning TV battle, and were encouraged by Jimmy Kimmel’s start in
an earlier slot, and how he was poised to succeed against Jimmy Fallon when NBC
swaps out its “Tonight Show” host next year. “ABC now has a strong
new late fringe comedy,” said Boylan, vice president and general manager at
WPLG Miami. “The affiliates said, that’s a smart move.”
CBS affiliates like where
“CBS This Morning” is heading. Chris Cornelius, chairman of the CBS affiliates
board, said enthusiasm among the board in Vegas regarding the long
underperforming morning show was higher than it’s been in years. “We’ve got a
wonderful advantage in that we do [hard] news in the morning,” he said.
NBC are poaching viewers from each other, he added, while CBS is attracting
viewers seeking something more substantial in the morning.
News President David Rhodes discussed developments within the CBS Newspath
arrangement the network and the affiliates share. “We’re looking at how we can
improve efficiency and delivery and quality,” said Cornelius, president and
chief operating officer of Barrington Broadcasting. “It’s essential to all our
Diana Wilkin, president
of affiliate relations, spoke, as did Gordon Smith, president and CEO of the
NAB. Steve Lanzano, president and CEO of the trade association TVB, spoke on
the merits of live plus same day ratings, and of working with Nielsen to
deliver more accurate measurement.
live streaming is an increasingly hot topic among other networks and their
affiliates, Cornelius said it did not come up at the CBS meeting. With
CBS’s primetime continuing to thrive, complaints among affiliates are minimal.
A day after Chase Carey,
News Corp. president and chief operating officer, discussed potentially blowing
up the broadcast model for Fox, the affiliates meeting in Las Vegas looked to
be full of pyrotechnics—fueled by station partners who are unclear about their
role in a different network model. On the contrary, the meeting showed an
affiliate body that appears united in its support of Fox taking down outfits
such as Aereo that build a business on the backs of broadcasters’ content.
meeting, according to several affiliates, was short on the vociferous debates
seen in previous years, and showed both parties seemingly eager to work
“I think everybody supports our position and
is generally understanding about where we’re going,” said Mike Hopkins,
president of affiliate sales and marketing at Fox.
Network officials said
that many in the press had blown Carey’s statements out of proportion, and
neglected to report that, if Fox ends up upending the network model, it intends
to keep affiliates in the equation. “One option could be converting the Fox
broadcast network to a pay channel,” Fox said in a statement, “which we would
do in collaboration with both our content partners and affiliates.”
Fox officials in
the meeting emphasized that point to station partners, but did not provide
details on how the relationship would or would not change.
partners got some insights on Fox’s plan to increase live streaming offerings,
including the “Sports to Go” app, to be branded locally by stations. “It’s
aggressive and it feels like something we can take to market,” said one
affiliate. “We feel like partners on it.” They also got glimpses at new
programming, which one group leader said was “outstanding...just
broadcasters are increasingly united in thwarting the Aereos and
Aereokillers and other streaming services of the world, and most believe
the content owners will win. Affiliates in the room at the Fox
meeting credited the network for working out a Plan B should Aereo prevail in
court—and genuinely seemed to believe they would remain significant partners if
Fox should end up as a pay channel.
impressed that they’re out in front of this,” said one Fox station vet.
As it has been at the
other affiliate board meetings, live streaming of network content took up a
chunk of the NBC affiliates board meeting in Las Vegas.
Wertlieb, chairman of the board, called the network’s TV Everywhere initiative
a “work in progress.” He would not share details, but said both parties are
going about it aggressively, and in good faith. “The network recognizes the
important part the affiliates bring to the table,” he said.
network and the affiliates are also working out a mobile television framework;
Wertlieb stressed that live streaming and mobile TV are not mutually exclusive.
Both efforts show broadcasters’ desire to be there for users at all times, on
Broadcasting Chairman Ted Harbert and Jean Dietze, executive vice president of
affiliate relations at NBC, addressed the board, which includes Dave Lougee of
Gannett, Jim Yager of Barrington and Vince Sadusky of LIN, among others. NAB
President and CEO Gordon Smith made an appearance, while Steve Lanzano,
president and CEO of the trade association TVB, spoke on ratings measurement and
the merits of live plus same day ratings in the marketplace. Hot network
topics such as “Today”’s prolonged slump and the host switch
at “The Tonight Show” did not get substantial play in the meeting.
Since NAB is a technology show, said Wertlieb, tech topics dominated the
all on the same page,” he said.