Elisabeth Murdoch touts social networking

CEO says youths willing to pay for premium experiences

LAS VEGAS -- Emphasizing the need for the TV industry to put on its "hard hats" and rebuild the biz for a new era, Elisabeth Murdoch offered up a blueprint which put social networking at the heart of the solution for successful content.

Addressing participants at the annual NATPE confab in Vegas Wednesday morning, the Shine Group chairman-CEO cautioned that broadcasters can't afford any longer to ignore "the profound paradigm shift" which has overtaken the audience in the last decade. The biggest upheaval in media has less to do with the fall-off in advertising or the broken broadcast model as with how people are now actually consuming content of all kinds.

With some recent stats at her fingertips, Murdoch argued that the younger generation -- in Europe, America, wherever -- is both watching TV and using their computers at the same time. They're also eating, Web surfing, doing their homework and chatting simultaneously, and are highly engaged and quite willing to interact with high quality, involving content, Murdoch said.

Moreover, and this was one of the keys of her keynote, they are also increasingly willing to pay for premium experiences. She pointed to some of the experiments with social gaming as in Pet Society and Farmville as experiences that provide for a paid tier.

Given just how much audiences have evolved and how much they now expect high-quality, multi-platform experiences that they can share with their friends, Murdoch suggested that creative models have to be rethought.

"Non-linear storytelling is out," she said. "Our audience is smart and we must meet their expectations. We need to join the party."

As the company behind such shows as "The Biggest Loser" and "Master Chef," Murdoch stressed that the most successful content now originates from the get-go as a socializing experience with entry points from various platforms. And, she added, the audience being catered for is not just teens and tweens. The fastest-growing segment of Facebook subscribers, she pointed out, is the older-65 set.

In short, she concluded, "we have to keep up with the audience or we'll lose them."
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