What do you think of Sean’s views? Do you think second screen experiences should be created for all programming? Or should they be applied to only specific programs? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Frank Radice: Hi, this is Frank Radice and this is the Red Touch Media continuing series on the future of content and I’m with Sean Compton, the President of programming for Tribune. Sean, tell me a little bit about the future of Tribune and what you guys are up to these days?
Sean Compton: Well unlike the kind of traditional broadcast group where most broadcasters have been, for many years of leasing product, we are becoming a group that’s not only developing product in partnerships with other studios, but expanding our local presence as well as getting a footprint in the syndication business. For years broadcasters would air their local news and that’s all they owned, now you know there are partnerships that, you know, like NATPE is a time to get together and talk about what you’re going to partner on in the true sense of partnership verses I lease a program, it doesn’t work, we cancel it after a year or you lease a program and it works and you have to pay more next year. You know it’s, we’re putting skin in the game and having a real say at the table.
Frank: So you’ll own the programming basically?
Sean: With partners, I mean there’s some shows we own a hundred percent of, there are some shows we own, you know, portions of but we now, one of the beauties that we’ve discovered with having a say in the programming is that we have the ability to market and give a really big push behind the shows that are going to launch. So when Arsenio Hall launched for us back in the fall of 2013, we had a hell of a start, huge start with that show because we promoted the heck out of it. We have ownership in that show. We have, you know, managers and programmers who are passionate about seeing it succeed.
Frank: Certainly one of the keys to success of any program is reaching frequency of the promotional message, you guys have a real unique opportunity in the size and scope of what Tribune brings to the table. Tell me a little about that?
Sean: Well, I mean any priority we have we’ll put, you know, our creative folks will put as much lift behind it as needed to, you know, take it over the top. I mean we have WGN America, our cable network which is doing original programming. We can use our station platform to promote that.
Frank: How many stations are in that?
Sean: We have now 43 stations in 33 markets and it’s, you know, obviously a gigantic footprint of largest broadcast or television stations in the United States
Frank: And every one of the major cities in the top 10 DMA’s, every one of the top 15 DMA’s?
Sean: We are in seven of the top 10, we’re not in Atlanta, we’re not in Boston and we’re not in San Francisco.
Frank: So this is a new paradigm basically for a station group to go out and do something like this. Now you also are involved in the digital marketing of these programs. Are you creating second screen experiences for these programs? Are you going into the production of them with that in mind?
Sean: It depends on the show, there’s not a one size fits all, you know, we own a conflict talk show, a daytime show called The Bill Cunningham show, there’s no real second screen experience. There’s some interesting applications with, you know, social networking that you could use to help promote viewers to the show. But then the other side you have something like Arsenio or some of the other shows we’re developing that you do have those experiences, like this show that Matt Cherniss at WGN America is launching, Salem, it has the trailer up, it’s promoting the show, special sneak peek clips, yeah so it just depends on obviously the show. There’s not a one size fits all mentality to this company which we’re all grateful for.
Frank: That’s an interesting concept about the Salem Witch Trials I think, and is that a concept that was brought to you or was it a concept that you took out there or how did that process work?
Sean: That was really Matt and John Waxes project from WGN America, I don’t know if it came to them. I think it did and they liked it. I was not involved in that, other than excited about talking to them about it and seeing their passion behind it and I think it’ll make a big difference for the network. That’ll be our first scripted original series on that cable network in the history of that network, which was exclusive to WGN America. I mean years ago you had some shows like Andromeda and other series but this will be the first exclusive original series that they’re putting on that network.
Frank: Now I understand, are you considering other network type launches?
Sean: For WGN America?
Frank: For Tribune.
Sean: Well we have two digital networks one that we oversee with MGM and then one we own completely, Antenna TV, so you know we were a cable network and a cable superstation and handful of TV stations, now we’re a large group of TV station, a cable superstation, and we’ve launched these other networks. Antenna TV’s a classic television network that’s cleared in seventy percent of the US. It has television shows, I mean some of the lineup includes Three’s Company, Dennis the Menace, Burns and Allen, and Late Night Jack Benny, Sanford and Son, Good Times. So it’s a classic network, no paid programming allowed, 24 hours a day you tune in and you catch a classic show, everything from Giget and the Monkey’s to, like I said, Three’s Company and Maude. And then you have an addition to that network, this TV which is a movies channel that’s fueled by MGM titles and we have a lot of Sony titles and some other studios we license movies with. So for over the air in seventy percent of the US and we have a lot of cable coverage on those shows as well. But certainly over the air, the experience for a traditional over the air viewer that’s done the court cutting at home, these networks have given these individual homes choices that once were five or six choices on television, that are now 12, 14, 15 choices.
Frank: Do you up convert or are you showing these programs in SD?
Sean: These are all in SD because we want to use, they don’t look right, we have like Law and Order on WGN America that is up converted that in a high def. experience but Dennis the Menace on over the air antenna or through the cable looks fine in standard def. It doesn’t make sense to use up your spectrum to up convert Dennis the Menace to HD.
Frank: Are you having a good time as the Head of Programming in Tribune?
Sean: Yes, and that job is actually, probably the most entertaining part of the day is getting to spend a few minutes on Antenna TV because we don’t have the pressures of Nielsen, you don’t have the pressures of ratings. A lot of the programming on that network is based on viewer feedback, the catalog we have, events. One of the members of the Partridge Family passed away a couple weeks ago we did a Partridge Family Marathon, when Davy Jones passed away we did a Monkey’s Marathon. When it is the anniversary coming up with Three’s Company, we’re going to do an anniversary of Three’s Company Marathon. I mean it’s a fun network to program.
Frank: That’s fantastic, Sean Compton, the Head of Programming for Tribune. This is Frank Radice, see you next time.