Kern Schireson on the New Age of Television at The Paley Center Panel

From left to right: David F. Poltrack, Kern Schireson, Alan Wurtzel and Michael Wolff at the Paley Center for Media. Photo courtesy of the Paley Center for Media.

From left to right: David F. Poltrack, Kern Schireson, Alan Wurtzel and Michael Wolff at the Paley Center for Media. Photo courtesy of the Paley Center for Media.

Viacom’s Kern Schireson, executive vice president of Data Strategy & Consumer Intelligence, joined a panel of research executives from across the entertainment industry at the Paley Center for Media to discuss the evolving definition of television “hits” and how to measure success in the new age of TV.

Additional panelists included:

  • Robert DeBitetto, president, Brand Strategy, Business Development and A+E Studios, A+E Networks
  • David F. Poltrack, chief research officer, CBS Corporation
  • Alan Wurtzel, president, Research & Media Development, NBCUniversal.

The panel, moderated by columnist Michael Wolff, kicked off with a resounding hurrah for television. “Television has never been more exciting, never been more central,” said Wolff. “It is the business of the future.”

It’s also never been available on so many different platforms. The conversation turned to how we define television when it lives in places far beyond a television set. Schireson’s take: “We are in the business of TV the art-form, not TV the platform. Our business at Viacom is telling stories great and small that connect and create conversations, and move culture forward.”

DeBitetto added: “We talk about the new golden age of drama. We counted 64 different platforms commissioning original scripted television…. Consumers never had more choice.”

“The new name for television needs to accommodate this shift to multiplatform content,” added Schireson.

The panel also looked at the industry-wide issues of multiplatform measurement and misperceptions around the power of TV… or whatever it is we decide to call it.

For Poltrack, “Our TV programs are very successful. Consumption is taking place outside the measurement environment and outside the advertising environment. The biggest problem in the industry right now is misinformation.”

“The one-size-fits-all model isn’t working anymore, so we have to add our own things,” said NBC’s Wurtzel, who went on to say that eventually there will be, “different measures that we believe will get a lot closer to the reality of the way people are consuming.”

Schireson noted that there is, “All of this cultural impact reverberating through social platforms that may be showing up at these new water coolers that are very well monitored. We need to take a step back and tell our advertisers, Poland Spring doesn’t get the credit for that. We created that and we’re the cultural force behind that.”

How do we begin to address the challenges facing the industry in its golden age? Schireson’s point of view is, by “Offering a more targeted, more integrated approach that really addresses the kind of marketing outcomes advertisers want to achieve. Viacom’s had some success in the marketplace over the past year, year-and-a-half selling that way, and I think ultimately that’s where we need to go.”

For more highlights from the panel, check out the video below:


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