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Most TV content moving to Web within two years

Media executives from Disney, Turner and Comcast have unanimously agreed that 75 percent of all television shows will be viewed on the Web within two years.

The subject was discussed last week by groups of media executives in New York City at the Elevate Video Advertising Summit and in Las Vegas at the Promax Station Summit.

In New York, David Preschlack, senior vice president of Disney/ESPN affiliate sales and marketing; Jeremy Legg, vice president of business development at Turner Broadcasting; and Matt Strauss, senior vice president of Comcast Interactive Media, all predicted that the networks will be almost completely agnostic about where and when their video content is being viewed within two years.

“It’s interesting to think of what the definition of a TV is,” said Strauss. “My kids think an iPad is a TV. People don’t think of TV anymore, they just think of video. For us, in the broader context of what we’re doing, we’re beginning to migrate everything to Internet video.”

Regardless of a number of rights and business issues still to be resolved in the transition, the three executives said it is inevitable that television will soon be available anywhere on all devices. It will make little sense for networks to distinguish between TV sets and every other video viewing device, they said.

The topic extended to television station executives attending the Promax Station Summit in Las Vegas. With TV migrating to the Web through Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, connected TV sets, Xbox and other sites and devices, television stations face a new challenge: everything TV stations produce and distribute now goes head-to-head with everything else.

Cory Bergman, director of, a social media startup within, chaired a social media panel at Promax. He described the event on Lost Remote, a website he founded.

Bergman said there are three major priorities local television stations must address. First, they must produce differentiated content that people will watch on-demand. Newscasts, he noted, aren’t it. They also need to double down on mobile and tablets, and invest more in social media so local content can be discovered and shared.

Broadcasters, Bergman said, should expect to invest more than ever in these three priorities — more than they did for the HDTV buildout. And, he noted, it will take at least two to three years before there’s even a chance of breaking even.

Facebook’s Andy Mitchell followed in a session that offers tips and tools for stations to upgrade their Facebook presence. Facebook, he said, is now the Web’s content discovery portal.

The average user, Mitchell said, spends six hours and 36 minutes a month on Facebook, and 50 percent of Facebook users return daily. That means Facebook is a must for any local TV station — not just for building fans, but building engagement — which requires human interaction and can’t be automated.

Twitter, which now reaches 13 percent of Americans, is important because it reaches social influencers, engages audiences around shared experience events and is already a major real-time newsgathering tool.

Like Facebook, a TV station’s Twitter primary account shouldn’t be automated, and broadcast executives should encourage station staffers to create their own Twitter account, panelists told the attendees.

As for social media guidelines for a station’s staff, the New York Times’ said it best: “Don’t be stupid,” Bergman warned. And if you’re running a Twitter account, make sure you’re using it as a communications stream (responding to people), not just as a headline service.

YouTube was also noted, and stations were urged to create custom, viral videos and embed them on Facebook and share them on Twitter.

Bergman urged stations to create a culture of experimentation, celebrate social media successes, only hire people with some social media savvy and search out an evangelist who can lead the social charge at the station across all departments.

He cited Evonne Benedict, social media manager for KING-TV in Seattle. “In my job, I’m a journalist, a community engager, a customer service rep, a brand advocate, a path builder and a team coach,” Benedict said.