ABC’s Steve McPherson…Speaks!
Broadcasting & Cable’s Melissa Grego did a lengthy interview with ABC Entertainment Group President Steve McPherson which is probably most notable just because it is an interview with Steve McPherson. Unlike some of his brethren, he doesn’t talk to the press much.
He’s happy with Modern Family and reading between the lines it looks like they’re still waiting to see what happens the rest of the season with Flashforward and V. He didn’t seem completely sold on either to me, particularly FlashForward which is no surprise. But I didn’t get huge vibes of bullishness when it came to V either. Admittedly, I might be reading to much into it.
How much of a credit to your Wednesday comedies is the fact that Fox moved up Idol against them this month?
It’s kind of odd. Because Modern Family is the same company. [20th Century Fox produces Modern Family and, like Fox, is part of News Corp.] So much for vertical integration. I’ve often said that I think the broadcast networks spend far too much time beating up on each other. I was actually happy to see Glee move to a different night from Modern Family, because I appreciate those shows. But the Idol thing is the Idol thing, so we have to stay consistent.
Now that Leno‘s been on the air for half a season, what has been the impact on your business and on the broadcast business overall?
We look at it as a competitive advantage that we’re able to program original scripted programming in those hours. I hesitate to say we’re happy to see the struggle there because we all want a vibrant broadcast network landscape. We don’t really want to see that. It’s like if we’re the New York Yankees, is it good news that the Boston Red Sox decide to stop playing baseball? No. Competitively you want to beat them, but you want to beat ’em at their best. I really think that is the genuine feeling out there, in the advertising community, in the network community, that we want all the networks to be healthy.
It’s a good sound bite, and while I don’t really think any of the broadcast networks have a problem with NBC flailing and constantly being pummeled, I do think it’s true that it’s likely better for all the nets if broadcast is healthy across-the-board.
And sure, I really wish Grego would’ve asked him “So, two out of the five days on night’s Leno was on, you programmed scripted content that performed worse than Leno. Scripted content that performed WORSE than Leno 40% of the time! What’s it mean?”
But in fairness, McPherson gives a lengthy answer on the nature of disappointment when it comes to programming TV in a business where most of what they launch fails. And he uses another baseball metaphor which always goes over well with me.