A Look Ahead to NATPE 2019

Looking forward to the upcoming NATPE meeting in Miami, it’s always fun and very educational to see what the latest trends are in TV programming and video. In past NATPE meetings we learned about the new medium of Vine, which has come and gone, and witnessed the evolution of OTT (“Over the Top Television”). Now networks like Roku, Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and others are bidding up the cost of programming and buying in bulk.
The rapid rate of change in the industry comes because of the way we consume media is changing so quickly. Millions are cutting the cord, no more cable or satellite. This is akin to the advent of television’s impact on movie theatres back in the 1950s. And, the small screen you use to make phone calls is now the big screen when it comes to revenue.
The example I’d like to highlight uses one of the TV medium’s most venerable morning institutions, the NBC TODAY Show. While NBC’s TODAY spans four hours of live TV every day, its availability 24 hours a day, seven days a week on mobile, social and wireless is the real profit center.
Today’s digital content provider (whether multimedia journalist or visual storyteller) is part artist and part scientist. The artist part involves the quality of the writing and multimedia content; the scientist is the person who tracks engagement and reach data in real time. Imagine the print journalist automatically knowing how many copies of the paper were going to be sold based on the article he or she was about to write. Measurement is very different now. The key metric for NBC’s Facebook page is the “share”—if people are “sharing” a TODAY story, they are engaging and influencing others as a trusted third party.
While a guest segment on the TODAY Show may run three to five minutes, the guests themselves are usually at the studio for an average of 2 hours. NBC is working on ways to use that time productively on its social media channels, to build engagement. That’s part of the thinking about the Orange Room part of the show and the website/social pages—that’s where the most ready to go viral content is featured and interaction is encouraged. So the Orange room is both a part of the set, but also part of the virtual world and a bridge to the OTT viewer.
While much focus is on curating UGC (user generated content), this window of availability provides a terrific opportunity for IGC (influencer generated content). If you quality to be a TODAY show guest, you are automatically considered to be an “influencer.”
Since it debuted this month in 1952, TODAY has always been an innovator (though not always in first place thanks to GMA) and it’s always interesting to see how the format is evolving, particularly in an age where so many consumers are “cutting the cord” and living without satellite dishes, cable boxes and antennas. The research indicates TODAY is staying engaged with its OTT viewers, even after they have cut the cord.
For me, this year’s NATPE is about helping with the launch of a new consumer show called “TrustDale Investigates” that I think has great potential. We are also hopeful about finding a larger audience for “Coffee With America’s” Spanish companion show “Café con America.” I’m also helping South Florida PBS’ efforts to find a national audience for its cable Health Channel. Look for me at NATPE!