Playback Summit ’14: Original content key to media survival

GroupM Entertainment CEO Peter Tortorici (pictured) told delegates at the Playback Summit in Toronto that unique content is king in today's noisy, chaotic digital landscape.
May 2, 2014

GroupM Entertainment’s Peter Tortorici told attendees at the Playback Summit in Toronto on Wednesday (April 30) that the Canadian TV business has far more room for original programming – and that it’s critical for its success.

Arguing that content is king in a fast-changing digital landscape, the former president of CBS and Telemundo said broadcasters that rely on acquiring programming, mostly from the U.S., without developing their own content are on the wrong track.

“For media platforms, if you are not generating unique assets that are your own, that carry your DNA, and that have a financial interest that can be exploited around the world, then you are jeopardizing your future,” Tortorici said in his keynote address in Toronto.

That means no longer just sitting at your desk and shunning risk.

“If we’re not wiling to readjust our own context, we will fail,” Tortorici insisted.

That is where GroupM Entertainment, which finances, produces and distributes both original and brand-associated content, enters the Canadian market. “We’re looking to help finance and coproduce properties that first and foremost are successful here,” Tortorici said.

Recent Canadian-made content that GroupM coproduced include the CBC’s Battle of the Blades and Cracked, and The Project for Rogers Media.

GroupM Entertainment has also pacted with former CBC exec Julie Bristow on Bristow Global Media, which is getting deep into brand-funded content.

Tortorici said a key step to success is ensuring you have content that defines your platform.

An example is AMC, which began as a movie channel, and then dramatically increased its fortunes with original series like Mad Men and The Walking Dead, which changed the pricing for its content.

Netflix made a similar market leap, including into Canada and elsewhere internationally, when it rolled out original series like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black.

“As much as we are fascinated with one another in how we put deals and money together, the only thing that’s important is the viewer,” Tortorici told Playback Summit delegates.

“That’s what ultimately determines whether we have winners or losers,” he added.

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