New Technology and new Platforms for the Networks

Will YouTube take over the big TV tube?

Despite constantly changing equipment, technology, internet, etc., “television itself is still going to be the main driver, and will be around for a very long time,” insists Nancy Tellem, president of CBS Paramount Network Television Entertainment Group.

More than the technology, Tellem’s a champion of TV content, you know the drama, comedy and reality programs that makeup the network schedule– such as the CSI franchise, NCIS, Two and a Half Men, 48 Hours Mystery, Survivor and The Amazing Race. They are the ratings winners that keep the CBS advertisers happy.

Watching The Amazing Race teams scale the Great Wall of China on an iPod, and other new platforms, just doesn’t have the same impact as viewing it on a new high definition TV screen. And so the network is not looking to change its programming to fit the new platforms. Not just yet, anyway.

Tellem points out, “It’s a great thing that sits in the living room [the TV set itself], despite all the new technology, etc. Embracing the technology is something that CBS is definitely doing, and we will be driving all these platforms for many years to come. We are all very much in a very big experimental time right now, bringing together our content [programming] and embracing the technology. Some of the consumers will ultimately tell us what they can tolerate and what they can’t, but all of this is driven by content, which we produce, and is also very much driven by the television platforms.”

Like all the major networks, CBS is looking into YouTube and other platforms, seeking the younger audience, and Tellem says, “We have a million views a day from a younger demo, so there’s naturally this correlation that there has to be some kind of migration from YouTube to increasing ratings. Just having our content out there on different platforms for everyone to sample, the hope is, and I think we are seeing it, that viewers are migrating back to us on the television platform.”

When you are looking at all different platforms,” she adds, “It’s all in its infancy. You’re looking at ways in which you can generate additional revenue.”

Yes, let’s be honest. It’s more about cash than content. Why else is Big Brother still on the air?

Frank Barron is the former editor of The Hollywood Reporter, having served twice in that capacity. In between, he was West Coast news director for Billboard Publications, supervising their five magazines. Barron also created the western TV series “The Man From Blackhawk” for the ABC network. For more than three decades he and writer-wife Margie Barron have covered Hollywood for Production Update magazine, and they currently contribute to numerous publications. Frank started in showbiz as publicity director for the KHJ radio and television station. Before moving to California, he was a sports editor in New Jersey.