Traveling With Television - Michael Kassan - MediaBizBloggers

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Ladies and gentlemen, television has left the building.

With a vengeance.

If you turned off all the sets in the world, television would still be on all over the world.

On your phone.
On your laptop.
Your desktop.
There's a TV in the supermarket.
At the gas station.

In the airport, the restaurant, the doctor's office, on the wall, in the mall, and even in your car.

As we put the finishing touches on the MediaLink-produced track at NATPE this week, I was struck by the mind-numbing range of topics we have to talk about this year.

Can we even say with conviction exactly what a television programming executive is in a digital world? Does he work for a network? Is she running a cable channel? A website? A mobile app? Programming an out-of-home network?

Fifteen years ago, you came to NATPE to do a little business, play some blackjack and if you had time, hit the exhibit hall in time for Lucy Lawless to autograph a Xena: Warrior Princess poster for your kid.

But now? The 2010 NATPE agenda serves up panels on producing web hits, panels on social media, live streaming video, formatting content for digital delivery and, inevitably, Twitter.

It's daunting. Being in television today demands an understanding of more worlds than the Enterprise visited in five series spanning five decades (not counting the cartoons). Which is why we designed our track to be a trek, a wide-ranging exploration of key issues such as addressability, interactivity, branded entertainment and the prospects for private equity to finally get serious about financing content.

Even our keynote interview, with AT&T advertising chief Daryl Evans, is a testament to how the many new faces of television have created entirely new realities. Who could have imagined, when the first meeting of what would become NATPE was held in 1964, that the marketplace would change so completely that one marketer could be content creator, distributor and advertiser simultaneously?

I think the smart play is to keep it simple. Reduced to its essence, the digital ecosystem is about content, data, and channel. That's all.

What's complex is figuring out the precise formula for those three elements, and then mixing them in just the right way to achieve your goal. Complex but not impossible.

If content is made smartly enough to travel well across many different channels and if data can be captured, evaluated and acted on swiftly and effectively, it doesn't matter where television goes, because we will be able to follow it. At warp speed, if we're really good.

Television is on everywhere. And everything is on the table.

The diversity may be dazzling, even frightening. But no matter what we do in television specifically or communications generally, if we stay focused on the basics, the smart money says we'll enjoy the show.

Michael E. Kassan is Chairman and CEO of Media Link, LLC, a leading Los Angeles and New York City-based advisory and business development firm that provides critical counsel and direction on issues of marketing, advertising, media, entertainment and digital technology. Michael can be reached at

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