Summit ’15: Corwin, Abrego plan digital push

Charlie Corwin (pictured, center) and Cris Abrego (right) - co-chairmen and co-CEOs of Endemol Shine North America - kicked off the first day of sessions at the Realscreen Summit in Washington DC hinting at a strong digital push ahead for the company.
January 29, 2015

Charlie Corwin (pictured, center) and Cris Abrego (right) – co-chairmen and co-CEOs of Endemol Shine North America – kicked off the first day of sessions at the Realscreen Summit in Washington DC hinting at a strong digital push ahead for the company, and assuring delegates that bigger is, indeed, better.

“We are the biggest international independent studio on the planet and… we’re owning it. Bigger is better,” Corwin told delegates gathered at the Washington Hilton. “The landscape is changing – it’s shifting: audiences are experiencing entertainment in new ways, more interactivity; technology is allowing for more ways to distribute content and new economic models are evolving to address fragmentation.”

Interviewed by CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter (pictured above, left), Corwin and Abrego for the first time addressed their plans for the two-month-old Endemol Shine Group – which launched in December upon the completion of the Endemol-Shine Group-Core Media joint venture – stressing a focus on the company’s multi-channel network Endemol Beyond.

“We want to be on every platform. Beyond is our fledgling over-the-top play. It’s us – for the first time ever – going directly to the audience, which marks an important way forward for Endemol,” said Corwin, adding that the company also wants to work with every other over-the-top provider as well as international broadcasters in network and cable.

When asked if Endemol Beyond expected to be an icon on Apple TV, Corwin said: “No question.”

“We want great premium content and that’s what differentiates us from some of our competitors,” he said. “It’s not just the aggregation of scale, the aggregation of eyeballs, it’s actually creating premium content and giving that content to bespoke micro-targeted audiences around our digital stars.

“What we’re seeing more and more of is that linear television becomes an entry point but it’s our responsibility to create a 360-degree experience around our television properties. If we have something like The Biggest Loser or Big Brother or American Idol, these shows are obviously massive life rafts so what we need to do is make sure that there is an American Idol story being told on Instagram and on Twitter and on Facebook.”

When Stelter turned to the company’s roster of programming such as American Idol and the sagging ratings for such long-running shows, Abrego insisted the competition series is doing well this season and that it ultimately comes down to “great casting and great talent.”

When the moderator questioned what a “booster shot” for the show might be, the exec said the company’s respective producers are working on it. “They built these incredible franchises,” said Abrego. “Those guys know exactly what they’re doing.”

Stelter later wondered if there was simply too much television on the air. “Are we at that point?” he said. “Is there too much inventory for the number of hours?”

“That’s really a problem more for advertisers to wonder about,” said Corwin. “For us, creating content, there is nowhere near too much good shows out there for people to watch.”

Finally, when asked whether they plan to streamline the company’s subsidiaries such as 51 Minds and Original Media, or continue to run all the companies individually under one umbrella, Corwin said they are aiming for the latter.

“They will continue to be discrete and distinctive,” explained Corwin. “We come from those companies. We understand the power of those brands and how personal they are and we wouldn’t want to change that. Our job is to plug them into our platform.”

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