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'Content is king' says ABC's Shaw

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Mike Shaw, sales and marketing president at US television network ABC, has said that new media will only succeed alongside quality shows carried on traditional linear TV channels.

"Content is king," Shaw said. "All new platforms are being fuelled by TV and its content successes."

Across the four big US networks, $4 billion is spent on content. Lost is currently costing ABC $4.8 million per episode, but the network is not complaining. Five of the top 10 shows and seven of the top 20 come from its stable.

Shaw referenced Lost and other popular ABC shows Grey's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty as major successes when testing uptake across its broadband, video on demand and mobile platforms.

He said the for this recent high level of quality programming was a return to TV by talented directors, actors and writers normally affiliated with film like Jerry Bruckheimer.

Shaw also pointed to HDTV as TV's next big thing, referring to it as the "the game changer", drawing a parallel with TV's change from black and white to colour. He said he believed HDTV would have more impact than any of the new devices like PVRs or DVRs.

HDTV has grown rapidly for ABC, which currently shows all its major sports, news and daytime programmes in the format. By the end of 2006, 31% of 112 million US households will have HDTV.

Shaw said what "kept him awake at night" was the lack of security and encryption on devices like DVRs. He indicated ABC would like to work more closely with those who build the technology to stop illegal copying and recording of online, video and DVD content. He said: "If it becomes ubiquitous, I don't know what we'll do."

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