New Media Point to New Investment Sources

Ben Silverman

The tug of war between traditional broadcast revenue outlets versus finding new and attractive ways to monetize media across all platforms plays out in a myriad of ways in the content delivery world.

The media landscape has been turned upside down by the evolution of technology, which continues to impact business deals across the board for storytellers, content creators, distributors and brands. This transformation and its influence on investors will be explored in the two-day Media Finance and Investor Conference (MFIC), beginning today and concluding Tuesday.

Now in its third year, the MFIC is produced in partnership with Noble Financial Capital Market. The conference is geared toward investment bankers, financiers of new companies and the financial community as a whole, said Michael Kupinski, managing director, media and entertainment, for Noble Financial.

“I don’t think there’s a better opportunity to get a deep dive into the industry than the two days we have at this conference,” Kupinski said.

The conference provides attendees access to executive-level discussions. It features technological outlook panel presentations and facilitates one-on-one meetings between corporate executives and the investment community. One issue that looms large is the spectrum auctions, which will be addressed in a session later today, Kupinski said.

“It’s probably the biggest event in television history in terms of the amount of money that might be derived from spectrum auctions and how those companies plan to deploy those proceeds,” Kupinski said. “It’s going to be very important to investors.”

Another hot-button issue is over-the-top (OTT) television, which will be discussed during another session later today, Kupinski said.

“People are consuming television and programming by alternative methods, including Netflix, Prime TV, Apple TV and so forth,” he said. “So it’s a two-day dive to understand what the opportunities are, what might be at risk, and what investors can watch for.”

The keynote session will feature Ben Silverman, chairman and founder of Electus, which produces and distributes programs on multiple media platforms. The company was founded in 2009 in partnership with Inter- ActiveCorp.

Silverman is a giant in the product placement world and known for his innovative thinking and deal structuring while working as co-chairman of NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios, prior to founding Electus. While at NBC, he connected advertisers and consumers through content and worked with international partners. Prior to that, Silverman owned Reveille, a production and distribution company focusing on developing worldwide intellectual property rights through scripted and alternative television.

As both an Emmy and Golden Globe-winning producer, Silverman is credited with producing such shows as “The Office,” “Ugly Betty,” “Marco Polo,” “The Tudors,” “The Biggest Loser” and “Jane The Virgin.” Brant Pinvidic, chief executive officer of INvelop Entertainment, will interview Silverman during the keynote session. With an icon of television media in the hot seat, Pinvidic said he plans to draw a wealth of knowledge from the keynoter.

“Very few people understand the monetization of content and how content plays in the media world better than he does,” Pinvidic said. “He ran a successful production company with international distribution, selling that for hundreds of millions of dollars, and then moved into being the chairman of NBC. He’s been on both sides of the coin and every other side of the coin there is.” Pinvidic said he plans to ask Silverman to explore the difference between crafting content creatively and how to effectively craft content to positively impact the bottom line.

He will also find out “what that means to investors and people in the media business, particularly how it relates to what is being talked about as a decline in media in the traditional sense and moving to more digital and new media, and how big media still has a role to play.”

In addition to the keynote, sessions today include “Political Outlook,” 11:40 a.m.– 12:20 p.m. and “Advertising Outlook,” 1–2 p.m. This second panel will look at advertising for all mediums, including network television, local broadcasters and the Internet. One focus will be on political advertising, which is expected to raise revenue across the board this year.

The panel “Spectrum Update – What’s Next?” will delve into the FCC Spectrum Auction timetable. It runs from 2–2:55 p.m. Ending the day is “Cord Cutting and OTT.” Taking place from 4:30–5:30 p.m., it will explore over-the-top initiatives and how this will impact the broadcast television business model.

Tuesday starts out with “Leveraging Broadcast Television’s Infrastructure; ATSC 3.0,” from 8–9 a.m. Topical issues on the regulatory front will be discussed from 9:50–10:50 a.m. in “Washington Outlook.”

The afternoon session “How Programatic Is Changing the Advertising Industry,” 1:05–2:05 p.m., will look at programmatic ad buying and how traditional radio and television broadcasters can embrace it rather than fear it. Finally, the session “Perception vs. Reality: Can the Value Medium Catch a Break?” will discuss recent research on the perception of radio and what the industry needs to do to change its perception.

Pinvidic said attendees to this year’s conference will walk away with a working knowledge of the strong direction and commitment to creating media effectively in the industry.

“As content creators, we have a solidified plan to how to bring our product to the marketplace, monetize effectively, build substantial companies and work with our partners to move to the next level,” Pinvidic said.

As the MFIC begins its third year, Pinvidic said he sees this year’s conference as more action-planned, all led by keynoter Ben Silverman.

“From a guy who has bought media and run one of the largest media companies in the world, and from a guy who has created media at one of the highest levels, it really gives you a perspective on how this business works and reaping the monetization of it in all facets,” Pinvidic said. “He really exemplifies that. And now that we understand the investor and the attendees — and the types of information they are looking for and decisions they are making — we can cater a little more to how they’re going to respond.”