NAB 2015

Top Of Mind For Fox Affils: ‘Empire,’ TVE

Meeting in Las Vegas, the affiliates hear good news on the network’s break-out hit and talk about how to hasten progress on the new TV Everywhere offering.

The Fox Affiliate Advisory Board told Fox representatives Monday they’re eager to capitalize next season on the success of Empire.

And Fox officials indicated the hit series will almost certainly run for longer than the 13 episodes it had in its inaugural season this year, when it emerged as network TV’s most talked-about new show.

“Empire” was one of the topics that came up for discussion as the Fox Affiliate Board met with Fox executives in advance of a full-affiliate meeting scheduled to be held Tuesday during the NAB Show in Las Vegas.

The other most talked-about topic at Monday’s meeting was TV Everywhere, and what it will take to hasten its implementation. While Fox’s TV Everywhere has been available to affiliates for a while, only the Fox O&O’s have launched it. Since it’s not widespread, consumers don’t know about it and, therefore, aren’t exactly demanding it, said Fox Affiliate Board Chairman Jeff Rosser.

“There was a lot of talk [at the meeting] about, well, is there a demand?” said Rosser, SVP of Raycom Media. “There usually isn’t a pent-up demand for something that customers don’t know anything about. But when local affiliates start to promote TV Everywhere, when we begin to invest in TV Everywhere with Fox network, I believe there will be demand for that product,” he told TVNewsCheck after the meeting.

Rosser said everyone at the meeting seemed to agree that the pace of rolling out TV Everywhere will accelerate when more affiliates of all networks start signing on to provide it. That will give station groups greater leverage in their negotiations with local MVPDs whose participation is vital for the planned TV Everywhere services for which cable authentication is required. But Rosser’s description of the situation seemed to imply that a stalemate seems to be in place as affiliates wait for other affiliates to get on board.

BRAND CONNECTIONS

“I think when more CBS affiliates have signed up with CBS All Access, when more NBC affiliates have now come to an agreement with NBC, that’s when groups like Raycom can go to MVPDs with all of our affiliates and do a deal with them,” Rosser explained. “If we have to go to the MVPDs and we have only four stations, that’s not a lot of leverage in the discussions. Once we get to mass with CBS affiliates having agreements, NBC affiliates and Fox affiliates having agreements, then we have something to talk to the MVPDs about.” Other than discussing it at the meeting, Rosser did not indicate whether any possible solution to the problem of getting affiliates to sign up was offered.

On the subject of  Empire, Rosser noted that a year ago, affiliates were very concerned about the weakness of Fox’s primetime lineup. That’s not the case now, Rosser said.

“Here we are a year later talking about how do we maximize Empire,” Rosser said. “The affiliates are fully behind it. [Fox has] asked us to do everything we can to promote it and keep it alive and we’re certainly happy to do that.”

Among the Fox execs at Monday’s meeting, which was held in a meeting room at the Encore Hotel, were Jon Hookstratten, EVP of broadcast distribution for Fox Networks Group, and Mike Biard, president of distribution.

Rosser said the meeting was cordial. He said relations between Fox and its affiliates right now are “good.”

“I’m going to describe it as a good business relationship,” he said. “Fox representatives made some remarks in this meeting just now that gives us greater confidence that they do see this relationship being a long-lasting relationship.”

Read TVNewscheck’s other NAB Show digital coverage here. Find our full convention coverage here.


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