Milken Conference: Robert Pittman Praises Interactive Billboards, Barry Diller Talks Tinder, 'Warcraft'

Matt Furman
Barry Diller

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick mulls the possibility of a movie or TV show based on the "Skylanders" video game franchise.

Robert Pittman, the CEO of iHeartRadio, was singing the praises of interactive billboards on Monday at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles.

People are spending 30 percent more time in their cars than they used to, Pittman said, and interactive billboards could be the next big media business. He called the devices "an iPad on a stick."

Interactive billboards allow passersby to use their smartphones to interact with the billboards or even insert an image of themselves into one. 

Pittman, the former AOL Time Warner executive and co-founder of MTV, was part of a panel called "May We Have Your Attention, Please: How Data is Transforming the Consumer Experience." Michael Milken hosted, and the other panelists were IAC InterActiveCorp chairman Barry Diller and Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick.

Kotick earned applause when Milken played a couple of commercials for the relaunch of Guitar Hero. The CEO then credited Pittman, a co-founder of MTV, for inspiring some of the new video elements in the revamped Guitar Hero.

Milken also showed a clip of Conan O'Brien setting up his profile on Tinder, a dating and social networking site owned by IAC. In the video, the 52-year-old TV host instructs underlings to narrow his search for compatible females to the continental U.S., and informs his assistants that the woman he seeks should be no more than 27 years of age. He then chastises them for using a photo that shows his wedding ring.

"I've never seen that. Funny," Diller said after the snippet ended.

Kotick also informed Diller that the CEO of Expedia, also a Diller company, plays Activision Blizzard's World of Warcraft two hours every night. "That's the worst thing I ever heard," Diller told Kotick.

Kotick said that his company invested "billions of dollars over a long period of time" to develop World of Warcraft and what he has seen of the upcoming film based on the game franchise is "spectacular." 

Milken asked if the hugely popular game franchise Skylanders might be turned into a TV show or movie, and Kotick said that while he's always "reticent" to make such a leap, he's nevertheless "considering it."

Another game, Call of Duty, Kotick said, is in more than 190 countries, though not North Korea, he noted. He then joked that Sony is trying to rectify that, a reference to the infamous hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment, allegedly orchestrated by North Korea in response to The Interview, a movie critical of the communist, totalitarian country.

Diller imagined North Korean leader Kim Jong Un — or as he put it, "that little monster" — sitting around playing video games, then quipped, "Now that I've said that, I will be shot."

Milken ended by noting the three executives were not college graduates, so he conferred on them honorary degrees from the "Milken Institute University."

Email: Paul.Bond@THR.com

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