NATPE recently hosted “Streaming Plus,” a first-of-its-kind summit for the Los Angeles-based non-profit TV trade organization, during which leading executives from CBS, YouTube, The CW, and Netflix gathered to review streaming’s position in the programming and distribution industry’s future.

The summit, which took place at the W Hollywood Hotel at the end of July, kicked off with the phrase: “There’s only one thing you can’t stream — and that’s networking.”

The one-day exchange could be summed up with one word: fun! But it did feel as though market organizers were trying to make it seem a bit hipper than it actually was. That hoped-for “hip” factor could possibly have been because many attendees talked about marketing to millennials, which was presumably their target audience.

Nonetheless, the one-day event was attended by a good blend of everyone from late twenty-somethings up to TV veterans. Some Viacom execs were in town from New York City, but most were Los Angeles locals.

The event began with NATPE’s president and CEO, JP Bommel, presenting opening remarks alongside dotstudioPRO’s Phoenix Gonzalez and RevThink’s Tim Thompson. Most of the day’s speakers concentrated on how their companies have expanded from the linear world to the digital world, from mainstream TV to Roku, Fire, iOS, and beyond. Talks with Rick Haskins of The CW TV network and Jeff Shultz of Viacom’s Pluto TV were focused more on the business side of things.

Haskins, who serves as the network’s executive vice president of Marketing and Digital Programs, wasn’t afraid to comment on some of the mistakes that were made early on with The CW’s digital expansion. None of these errors cost the network a great deal of time, money, or resources, but he laughed about how lessons are learned very quickly in the digital age.

The presentation by Shultz, EVP and Chief Business Officer for Pluto TV, got the audience’s attention even though a quick poll demonstrated that only about half of the keynote’s attendees had heard about his free, ad-supported streaming service. The Internet-based TV platform didn’t have to move to digital after linear success, like many of the other attendees were forced to do, but Shultz said he was confident that with its strategy, Pluto TV is in it to win it with a leg up on other free TV apps out there.

The talks given by Netflix’s Amy Reinhard and CBS All Access’s Julie McNamara were different. Both were interviewed about items on their resumes or basic company stats that could easily be found with a simple Google search.

Each was still enjoyable in their own way, however. During McNamara’s fireside chat, she shared trailers for the upcoming Star Trek series, as well as the dark comedy series Why Women Kill, and discussed how the CBS streaming service is growing steadily toward the future, at a pace of three-to-four new series a year. It’s a balance between quality over quantity, as well as concentrating on both internal assets and new content. This will help the network stay relevant, she said. But, as McNamara intimated, ultimately, it’s the consumer who will let them know what they want to see.

All in all, the event was a success. But this reporter definitely noticed a lot of talk during closing cocktails about how they were apparently offering a $300 discount on tickets for some time before the event.  It definitely rubbed the early bird-grabbing, paid-in-full attendees the wrong way.

(Full report by by Lauren Spartano in the September Issue of VideoAge)

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