CCW 2014

Landgraf: Legacy Television Will Survive OTT

The migration of TV to platforms like the Internet represents a "massive transition in technology, user interfaces and the nature" of the television industry, says FX CEO John Landgraf. "As long as we and others are able to innovate and invest, it's great for the consumer” since competition will result in "the best possible work."

Although it seems like radical changes in the business are underway — and, to a large extent, they are — the head of FX Networks says he believes traditional broadcasting and cable brands will survive even once the industry revolution has occurred.

“We all know it’s an absolutely fascinating, exhilaratingly scary time,” John Landgraf, the CEO of FX Networks and FX Productions, said Wednesday. The migration of TV to platforms like the Internet represents a “massive transition in technology, user interfaces and the nature” of the broadcasting and cable industry, he said.

However, Landgraf, the keynote speaker at the CCW-SATCON conference in New York, says how broadcasters manage that transition over the next, say, 30 or 40 years, will be key to their success.

“The questions is which companies today are thriving will still be thriving in the next couple of decades,” he said. Yet Landgraf, who believes in 40 years the majority of programming will be delivered over the Internet, is not pessimistic.

“Nobody has a crystal ball,” he said. “But those who thought television would [cause] the demise of radio may be surprised that radio is still a major medium.”

While broadcasters and cable are facing more competition — he estimates there are currently about 60 outlets producing 400 scripted shows — and complexities than ever before, Landgraf said “in many ways it’s the best of times the television business has ever seen because it’s a seller’s market.”


“It’s such a competitive environment that we have to take massive creative risks,” he said. “As long as we and others are able to innovate and invest, it’s great for the consumer and it’s great for me,” he said, adding that competition fuels his search for “the best possible work.”

Landgraf said he also believes that the current period of investment and expansion will be followed by consolidation, so that instead of hundreds of TV outlets providing, say, one good show, fewer of them will offer a wider range of desirable content.

He said he believes that will ultimately bode well for known outlets as consumers will seek out brands that are “meaningful mediators” to help them navigate the transition.

“When you leave all this technological change behind … can you still basically maintain through an editorial voice … marketing … a brand that is still meaningful enough for the customers that they will seek it out? I am relatively optimistic that the answer to that is yes.”

Read more CCW-SATCON coverage here.

Comments (10)

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Gregg Palermo says:

November 13, 2014 at 9:25 am

Radio survives because it’s local, live (sort of), and mobile. TV, not so much. Much of the content on radio and TV can be had with an app. Surviving and prospering are two different adjectives. And when the weather guy attempts to tease me at 9:00 with “will it rain tomorrow, I’ll tell you at 11” I just smile and whip out my cell phone to check the forecast so I can go to bed earlier

Clayton Mowry says:

November 13, 2014 at 9:36 am

Really, radio is live? (Not really) and local. Why is radio, specifically commercial radio any better that Spotify, Songza or Pandora for $35.00 a year without screaming car dealer commercials. Not to mention Sirius/XM if you have $120.00 per year for your in-car entertainment. Get your head out of the sand. Thanks to Cumulus and Clear Channel radio is an automated jukebox spun out of servers with little investment in local personalities.
Rustbelt, rust has seeped into your brain. And I suppose radio does enterprise reporting, why don’t they just buy an app for that? The dinosaur graveyard has a headstone ready for you.

E B says:

November 13, 2014 at 10:16 am

“Radio? Is that what I’m streaming?” – actual comment from my 20-something dunderhead daughter.

    Brian Bussey says:

    November 13, 2014 at 11:08 am

    Clear Channel has distroyed local radio. The only local live stuff is far right wing trash designed to pimp the fears of old bigots to keep them listening….

    Terry Dreher says:

    November 13, 2014 at 11:52 am

    The Left tried commercial radio and could never gather enough listeners to make the programs viable. There’s only so many times that fellow citizens can have their perspective be put down time after time before they choose another format. It’s why the Left is mostly on public funded radio – they can’t sell their own ideology to the masses.

    Just Fine says:

    November 13, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    Or, and this may go over your head, the Left isn’t interested in the 24-hour news cycle as much as the Right is. The Left doesn’t need white knights to tell them how to think and would rather be entertained at all hours of the day, not informed with what the conservative media calls “news.” Which is why radio is so cluttered with the same old voices whining about how the government is evil when Republicans aren’t in control and good when Democrats aren’t in control. The demise of TV has been written about since the first experimental signal was played in the 1930s, so I don’t write off television so easily.

    Keith ONeal says:

    November 13, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    No wonder NPR sucks!

    Wagner Pereira says:

    November 15, 2014 at 3:50 am

    Or perhaps, as a MIT Professor/Government Health Care designer stated, Americans are stupid. Of course, it was only the Right Wingers who realized it. So much for The Left knowing how to think on their own…..

Clayton Mowry says:

November 14, 2014 at 9:06 am

When FM came along in the 70’s AM was going to go dark. When VCR’s came out in 1978 for $1,000 bucks, a hell of a lot then, TV was over. TV was over is the 60’s when cigarette ads were banned from the airwaves. The “sky is always falling for TV’. 500 cable channels (with nothing much to watch was the end. From VHS tapes to the threat of digital to OTT and personal DVR’s, add skipping etc, etc, Broadcasters for years have been hearing about how no one will watch TV anymore. IT is the most efficient point to multi-point way to delivery content to large groups of people simultaneously. Go look up what happen with the 2013 streaming of the Academy Awards. TV has its place, Wall Street is just always enamored with the internet because the 20-something little MBA brats think that everyone uses media like they do. Wall Street’s strangle-hold on the psyche of American business is way out of proportion with the way things work and the way people live. By most people’s definitions, we should have already torn up the railroad tracks, because interstates and trucking rendered rail freight irrelevant. And so it goes….

    Wagner Pereira says:

    November 15, 2014 at 3:52 am

    Don’t forget how VCR and cable was out to kill the Movie Studios and local Theaters.

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