Trends in Media and Entertainment: the WSA Perspective

The WSA Media and Entertainment panel consisted of leading women from multiple media platforms including broadcast and cable TV, print publishing and the Internet. We asked panelists to discuss how shifting platforms for information and entertainment have impacted the future of each industry and current managerial decision-making.

We were fortunate to have S. Christopher Meigher III, CEO of Quest Media Communications and former president of Time, Inc. magazines, moderate our panel. His remarks focused on how significant current technological advances are relative to advances in the past decades. In his opening commentary, Mr. Meigher quoted Thomas L. Friedman’s “The World is Flat,” saying: “Whenever civilization has gone through one of these disruptive, dislocating technological revolutions – like Gutenberg’s introduction of the printing press – the whole world has changed in profound ways.”

The panelists shared perspectives and emerging trends from their sectors. Andrea Wong, EVP of Alternative Programming, Specials and Late Night at ABC Entertainment, created the popular series “The Bachelor,” as well as “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (which won an Emmy), and the recent hit “Dancing With the Stars.” As a pioneer in the reality-TV movement, Ms. Wong is of the mindset that no matter the platform, content is king.

Dorothy Kalins, executive editor of Newsweek and Budget Travel, added there are great opportunities to enter the media industry through meeting consumer demands for niche content. She has also seen a rebound in online advertising, making print online platforms profitable. Mrs. Kalins has achieved numerous nominations and awards in the publishing sector, including the Matrix Award, the National Magazine Award for Metropolitan Home and Saveur, and 29 awards from the Society of Publication Designers for her relaunch of Garden Design.

Nickelodeon EVP of Strategy and Operations Sarah Kirshbaum Levy said she believes the industry is at a turning point and must find a way to monetize content across different platforms. Phiderika Foust, VP of Strategy and Business Development at Scripps Networks, agreed that media companies, for the first time, are being asked to think outside of traditional lines of business. For instance, in response to consumer demands, the Food Network will launch branded restaurants in the coming year and may provide recipes on mobile devices. In 2002, the American Business Journal named Ms. Foust a “Top 40 Under Forty” business leader.

Karin Gilford, director of On-Demand Services at Yahoo! Music, is in an industry that has had to painfully cope with shifting platforms. Yahoo! believes there are ways to monetize digital music files through ad revenue and subscription services. Having been a CPA prior to entering the media industry, Ms. Gilford offered the audience tips to pursuing their dreams in an industry in which they have no prior experience. Similarly, Nisha Kumar, VP of Mergers & Acquisitions at Time Warner, Inc., provided valuable advice about managing one’s career path. She said it is more like sailing a boat than climbing a ladder – there are always moments that you get thrown off course, but when you have passion for your work, you will eventually end up in the right place.

Ms. Wong received her MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business. Ms. Kalins received her BA from Columbia University. Ms. Foust received her JD from the University of Virginia. Ms. Gilford received her MBA from University Southern California. Both Ms. Levy and Ms. Kumar received a BA from Harvard College and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Mr. Meigher also received his MBA from Harvard Business School.

Joanna Baker, Amrita Ahuja Media & Entertainment Panel Co-Chairs, Dynamic Women in Business Conference