People/Biz

Edinburgh ’18: Paul Telegdy on Sky, shiny floor formats and big swings

The Edinburgh International Television Festival closed its 42nd annual event on Friday (Aug. 24) with a “Worldview Address” from Paul Telegdy, president of NBC Entertainment’s alternative and reality group. Throughout the ...
August 24, 2018

The Edinburgh International Television Festival closed its 42nd annual event on Friday (Aug. 24) with a “Worldview Address” from Paul Telegdy, president of NBC Entertainment’s alternative and reality group.

Throughout the hour-long session, moderated by So Television’s MD Graham Stuart, Telegdy discussed the evolving television landscape with the possibility of NBC parent company Comcast acquiring European pay-TV operator Sky.

Comcast is currently locked in a battle with 21st Century Fox to purchase the European satcaster.  Though Comcast has offered the highest bid at US$34 billion, Fox has been given a Sept. 22 deadline to boost its current offer of £24.5 billion (approximately US$32.4 billion).

“The story is still being written,” Telegdy told the Scottish audience. “If we’re lucky enough, if this goes through, it would be a good thing for everyone involved.”

If the deal were to go through, the combined companies would serve as the largest pay-TV provider in the world with an estimated total of 52 million customers.

Telegdy noted that NBC’s integration into Comcast in 2011 meant gaining a senior management and leadership team that wanted to invest in the American broadcaster and build on its many unscripted television successes.

“[NBCUniversal] found that we were part of a great company, so if this goes through I think it will be a good thing for everyone involved,” Telegdy said. “What I think it would lead to is what we all crave: more collaboration internationally and working with more partners in the UK.”

In his speech, Telegdy also admitted that there are certain difficulties in discovering and nurturing shiny floor studio entertainment shows in the modern-day content arms race.

The NBC reality chief was quick to downplay the death of the shiny floor format, instead noting that factual audiences have become more demanding of the genre.

While the shiny floor entertainment show has become an economic ratings engine for NBC – currently boasting the No. 1 and No. 2 reality shows in the U.S., in the shape of The Voice and America’s Got Talent – the genre has cast “such a long shadow on the business that the audience is demanding more, and rightly so,” Telegdy said.

“Shiny floor isn’t dead,” he continued. “It’s working incredibly well and still counts for millions of viewers, but the new ones are being held to a higher standard of accountability by audiences and that’s a challenge that networks and the creative community has [been working on] over the years. There will be something great that pops.”

Telegdy also stressed that there is “almost unlimited real estate” on NBC’s programming schedule for content creators on both sides of the Atlantic to deploy the next big thing.

“We have to show restraint around wanting to take big swings, but we’re completely open. How could we not be?” he said, adding that the British creative community has a strong sense for the unscripted genre. “The British community has lent huge credence to both the creative quality and economic value of unscripted programming.”

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