Broadcasters need to innovate faster and smarter to remain on top of a marketplace in which connected and autonomous cars, smart speakers, smartphones, streaming audio and video and podcasting are rapidly changing the way consumers access media. At a NAB Show session “Entrepreneurship in Digital Media: Developing and Scaling New Opportunities for Broadcasters,” panelists discussed ways in which the industry can best incubate new ideas.
“The media landscape used to be straightforward. Now things are up for grabs,” said moderator Rick Ducey, managing director of BIA Advisory Services. “Giant technology companies, platform companies and ecommerce companies have really changed the landscape.” Fortunately, with radio’s multiple platforms, including over the air, websites, social media, streaming and podcasting, opportunities abound.
Among the panelists was John Clark, executive director of the National Association of Broadcasters’ PILOT initiative. Its mission statement: “We are technology innovators, educators and advocates working to strengthen current broadcaster services and to foster new media opportunities.” He told the session’s audience that working with any number of partners, PILOT has been able to “create opportunities with broadcasters and companies that help everybody together.” And yet, when asked whether the industry is innovating enough, he responded, “No, never enough. There is a ton going on in many different pockets—and we have to deal with a lot of different steps to figure out what is going to make it to the ‘walk’ stage.” He characterized the effort as a wondrous and “chaotic kind of cloud of ideas, where we don’t know where one idea might lead to another.”
Rob Weisbord, chief revenue officer for Sinclair Broadcast Group, originally ran a cluster of TV stations for the group, before taking on local broadcast operations, national sales, audience network sales and digital sales and operations—while also focusing on advanced revenue solutions and analytics, strategic partnerships and potential related acquisitions. “We are not a group of television stations; we’re a content center,” he said. “That would pigeon-hole us, so you have to throw that thought process out. Innovation begins when we’re not just something that sits on the wall.”
At Sinclair, “my job is to disrupt the status quo. Sinclair is a culture of entrepreneurial product labs and content labs,” he added. For those looking to bring innovation to the forefront, Weisbord said, “Entrepreneurs have to be the evangelist. Think big, take calculated risks and really have a thick skin. You are going to be challenged to the nth degree—but don’t let anyone take that away from you.”