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ABC execs address programming, marketing to a rapt audience in Goppert Theatre


October 18, 2012

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KANSAS CITY, Mo - When it comes to selecting which programs get picked up for production and make it onto TV screens around the country, many decisions are made from the gut.

When it comes to the actual marketing of those programs, however, decisions come down to much more scientific and quantitative data and analysis.

Those were the messages delivered by two executives from ABC to an engaged audience of about 200 at the American Marketing Association Annual Seminar, held Oct. 16 inside the Goppert Theatre on the Avila University campus.

Vickie Dummer, executive vice president, Time Square Studios, Current Series & Special for the ABC Entertainment Group, spoke for 1 ½ hours about a process that begins with an idea and – on rare occasions – proceeds to development of a script, pilot, series and, hopefully, a hit. Thinking of submitting an idea for a TV show to the network? Dummer said that from June to October of last year, there were 851 ideas submitted at ABC. Of those 851, 597 were given opportunities to pitch those ideas to network executives. Orders were made for 130 scripts. Twenty-four pilots were made, 13 became series and six returned or are returning for the 2012-13 season.

“Sometimes, it’s just a gut call,” Dummer said.

The same can be said for how a new program is marketed, she said.

“Marketing can do a lot of the heavy lifting for a show,” Dummer said. “A lot of it is gut. But a lot has to do with the scheduling. What are the lead-ins for a show?”

Dummer showed video clips and spoke at length about the most highly-touted new show of the fall season, Nashville. The first promotion of that show hit airwaves back in May, during the season finale of Dancing With the Stars, and an integrated marketing plan has been underway since, including a Nashville “microsite” on ABC.com and a Nashville Facebook page.

For the final 45 minutes of the program, Adam Gerber, vice president of sales development and marketing for the ABC Television Network, talked mainly about how the consumption of content has changed drastically over the last five years.

“It’s the era of untethered TV,” Gerber said.

He broke viewership into four quadrants among traditional TV viewers, those who use free online sites or social media sites, those who are willing to pay for enhanced content and those who mix free and paid. And Gerber came well-armed with statistics. Of those with micro-mobility, 63 percent still view those programs in their homes. Watching TV content is the core activity on iPads for 81 percent of adults 18-29.

“Scripted programming is in high demand on the iPad, second behind news,” Gerber said. “And, catching up is the main reason people watch full programming on their iPads.”

> View a few photos from the seminar



Avila University is a private, co-educational, values-based liberal arts institution founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, offering undergraduate, graduate, and adult degree programs. Avila University is located at 119th and Wornall Rd in southwest suburban Kansas City, Mo.