FreeWheel Impressions from the 2015 Paley International Council Summit
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Jack Rotherham
By Jack Rotherham,
Chief Marketing Officer

On November 18-20, the Paley Media Council held its 20th annual International Council Summit in New York. The summit, programmed around the theme “Deals & Dealmaking: Capitalizing on the Media Revolution,” brought together top media and entertainment executives to discuss the transactions that “are moving the needle and changing the face of the global media landscape.”

As the official Ad Tech Partner, FreeWheel was proud to align with the Paley Media Council and their network of media executives. The two-day Summit was stacked with a stellar roster of talent, including industry luminaries such as Tim Armstrong, CEO, AOL Inc.; Bob Bowman, President of Business and Media, Major League Baseball; Mike Hopkins, CEO, Hulu; David Levy, President, Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.; James Murdoch, CEO, 21st Century Fox; and David Zaslav, President and CEO, Discovery Communications—to name just a few.

Conversations, both on stage and throughout the event, were rooted in the importance of innovation in advertising and content distribution, and keeping pace with the massive shifts in consumer viewing habits. It was an inspiring experience, reminding me of the impact this collective group has on moving the industry forward.

2015 Paley International Council Summit

There were many highlights during the two day event, and I’d like to share why three panels particularly resonated with me:

All Eyes Are On Sports 4.0

Given the atmospheric rise of sports consumption, this panel discussion featuring Bob Bowman, President, Business and Media, Major League Baseball; David Levy, President, Turner Broadcasting System; and Emmett Shear, Founder and CEO, Twitch, gave the audience an inside look at what the future of sports content will look like.

2015 Paley International Council Summit

Bob Bowman, President, Business and Media, Major League Baseball; David Levy, President, Turner Broadcasting System; and Emmett Shear, Founder and CEO, Twitch, Richard Greenfield, Managing Director, Media and Technology Analyst, BTIG

The first, and perhaps most important, question the panel focused on was to answer: Why are sports out-performing every other content genre? The panel delivered these 5 compelling reasons:

  • Sports is classified as “appointment viewing” as David Levy said, “No one watches the Super Bowl on Monday Morning.”
  • Time spent: people simply spend a lot of time watching sports.
  • Fantasy leagues: people are watching games they would not have paid attention to in the past.
  • Social media: there’s greater engagement around sports thanks to social media.
  • And finally as Bob Bowman pointed out there’s the ease of viewing factor. You can now catch any live event, on any screen, wherever you are.

FreeWheel’s data from our recent Q3 2015 Video Monetization Report confirms that live sports makes up the single largest ad view share by content segment, at 20% of all content genres.

VMR5Source: http://freewheel.tv/insights

E-sports, or gaming, is perhaps the area positioned for the biggest growth in the sports content arena. Emmett Shear, Founder and CEO, Twitch pointed out that e-sports has the added benefit of attracting a truly global audience.

David Levy shared Turner’s plans to launch a new e-sports league in June 2016 that will combine both digital and linear viewing opportunities. Levy points out that Turner’s ownership over the league, the content, the rights, and the logos provides a unique opportunity to diversify revenue streams. In Levy’s own words, “We believe that’s going to be a big opportunity on a global basis.”

Hulu Behind the Scenes

This session provided a rare look behind the scenes at Hulu plans and operations featuring Mike Hopkins, CEO, Hulu and Irwin Gotlieb, Chairman, GroupM, interviewed by: Jack Myers, Chairman, Media Ecologist, MyersBizNet, Inc.

2015 Paley International Council Summit

Irwin Gotlieb, Chairman, GroupM, featuring Mike Hopkins, CEO, Hulu, Jack Myers, Chairman, Media Ecologist, MyersBizNet, Inc.

When talking about what will drive the business forward in terms of growth, Hopkins talked about the strategy to grow revenue equally between advertising and subscription. He also noted that currently Hulu revenue is split 50/50 between those two streams. “At this moment, we’re trying to be very aggressive… to lean forward in terms of driving new business,“ he said.

“If you want to know where the future of TV is, it’s Hulu today.” Bold statement from Hopkins specifically related to first, how Hulu offers advertisers addressable TV. And second, how Hulu allows consumers to choose how they want to consume advertising.

Data Driven Advertising

Data driven advertising continues to inspire a range of opinions across the industry, as experienced in this panel discussion featuring Jon Heller, Co-Founder and Co-CEO FreeWheel, Jonathan Bokor, SVP, Director of Advanced Media, MediaVest; Mark Lieberman, President and CEO, Viamedia; Rick Mandler, Vice President, Strategy and Digital Media Sales, ABC Television Network.

2015 Paley International Client Summit

Jonathan Bokor, SVP, Director of Advanced Media, MediaVest; Jon Heller,Cofounder and Co-CEO, FreeWheel; Mark Lieberman, President and CEO, Viamedia; Rick Mandler, Vice President, Strategy and Digital Media Sales, ABC Television Network, Marc Brodherson, Partner, McKinsey & Company

Jon’s perspective, as echoed in his recent post in AdExchanger, underlines the need to understand the motivations of the different players in the programmatic conversation and to focus on how to align business rules to the long-term value of premium video inventory. Just because programmatic works to varying degrees of success in certain environments, doesn’t mean it’s the right process to implement for premium video.

What was clear to me while watching this dynamic conversation, and through the course of the entire event, is that the FreeWheel Council for Premium Video (FWC) cannot be coming together at a better time.  As the convergence of television and digital video has created incredible transformation and significant opportunities, FreeWheel is committed to leading advocacy efforts on behalf of the premium video industry to ensure the vitality of premium video.

FreeWheel Comes to Life:  At the Event and Beyond

Summit attendees who stopped by the FreeWheel Streaming Lounge were able to deep dive into the FreeWheel experience. From connecting with FreeWheel leaders to receiving copies of our latest Video Monetization report, Summit attendees were given a front row seat to FreeWheel insights and expertise resulting from our unique position at the center of the premium video economy.

Not only did the FreeWheel brand came to life through the backdrop of the FreeWheel Streaming Lounge, but online as well through @FreeWheel social media engagement. Our social team live tweeted the event, adding color and insights to various conversations, and engaged digitally with over 30 Summit attendees from leading media companies.

FreeWheel Streaming Lounge

Looking back at 2015, FreeWheel’s partnership with the Paley Media Council has been one of the year’s highlights for me. From our experience at the Paley International Council Summit, to FreeWheel’s sponsorship of other key events such as the Paley Dialogue on Content Innovation and Paley Dialogue on Sports Television, the strategic alignment between our two organizations has provided even more learnings and connections than our already high expectations. I am personally looking forward to more opportunities to lead the conversation in 2016.

 Event Image Credits: Paley Center for Media

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