The CW President Dennis Miller on Reinventing a Broadcast Network and the Future of Upfronts (Video)

By Legends & Leadership Archives
Cover image for  article: The CW President Dennis Miller on Reinventing a Broadcast Network and the Future of Upfronts (Video)

Television industry veteran Dennis Miller has an intriguing perspective for today’s media executives that he shared with me during our recent Legends & Leadership conversation. Miller, who has been President of Nexstar's The CW since October 2022, suggests "executives often look at the stars and say 'look how pretty that star is.' Well, that's a vision from a billion years ago. You've got to know what that star looks like today to make good decisions for tomorrow." In other words, don't be mired in tradition at the expense of innovation. (You can view the entire conversation above.)

Miller, upon joining The CW, says he was "shocked" that Upfront events had remained largely unchanged, with "everyone going through the same dog and pony show." Thinking back, he recalls, "eighty percent of their [new] programs failed when they premiered. [Upfront events] cost from $5 to $20 million for each broadcaster. My gut is that the Upfronts as they were previously conceived are over. It's an antiquated form." In May, under Miller's direction, the "new" CW unsurprisingly broke away from the Upfront norm and opted to do three smaller presentations -- one for advertisers, one for affiliates and one for the press. The strategy was well received.

During our wide-ranging conversation, Miller touches upon the challenge of taking a broadcast network and completely reinventing it (as Nexstar Media Group is currently doing with The CW), the recent merger of the PGA and LIV (shortly after The CW acquired rights to LIV broadcasts), The CW's acquisition of the long-running HBO series Inside the NFL (which, Miller reminded me, has not previously included advertising), the future of The CW's streaming efforts, the growth of NewsNation, the future of linear broadcast beyond sports, the new economics of television production and much more. He also reveals what young people today should do if they want careers in media.

Miller, who was instrumental in building TNT (Turner Network Television) and Lionsgate Television, served as a member of the Nexstar Board of Directors from 2014 to 2022 and as chairman of Industrial Media from 2017 until its sale to Sony Pictures Television in 2022. Industrial Media productions include some of the most popular shows on television including American Idol, Netflix’s Matchmaker” series, and the dominant franchise for the last five years on Discovery, 90 Day Fiancé.

View the entire conversation above and here.

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