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Rebooting the Entertainment Industry: Variety’s Look at the Road Ahead

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The Ad Council is proud to partner with Variety on season two of “Rebooting the Entertainment Industry,” a series of panels that explore the difficult road ahead. How will the industry reckon with systemic racism and inequity? What are the short- and long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic? What about streaming—will we ever go to the movies like we used to? And what will the stories we see on screen look like?

The final panel on October 15, “The Outlook for Future Growth,” examines various reasons for optimism: Maybe this time, the change is real. Maybe there is room for plenty of viable streaming services—and thriving theaters. Maybe innovative partnerships like the one between AMC Theaters and Universal provide a road map for collaboration. Maybe one silver lining of COVID-19 is that Hollywood will have no choice but to embrace new ways of thinking, new ways of telling its stories.

Maybe.

As we look ahead to that final panel—to those reasons for optimism—here’s a recap of those that have already taken place, which you can watch on Variety’s website anytime, and a look at the lineup for the October 15 finale, for which you can register at no cost here.

Episode 6: The Outlook for Future Growth
Panelists: Mark Gill, President & CEO, Solstice Studios; Greg Boyer, Partner and US Media & Entertainment Consulting Leader, PwC; Syrinthia Studer, EVP, Nickelodeon and Awesomeness Films
Topic: Although COVID-19 cases overall remain disruptive to the entertainment industry, there are plenty of pockets of optimism. An explosive streaming war didn’t completely materialize—happily indicating there may be room for the many newly launched and established subscription platforms after all. An innovative reaching across the aisle collaboration transpired between AMC Theaters and Universal Pictures to boost movie revenues. Certain films may launch internationally first to similarly follow the opportunity. How might the entertainment industry build on this momentum—can COVID-19’s challenges generate or possibly force successful new ways of thinking? What are strategies to continue to stoke audiences’ enduring high demand for film and TV?

Episode 7: Breakthrough Marketing Elite Roundtable
Panelists: Puja Vohra, EVP Marketing and Strategy, Showtime; Kathy Kayse, Chief Media Strategy and Partnerships Officer, Ad Council; Domenic DiMeglio, EVP, Distribution, Marketing and Operations, CBS Digital Media Group, CBS Interactive; Andrea Fishman, PwC Partner, TMT Tech-Enabled Experience Transformation; Tim Natividad, Head of Performance Advertising, Roku
Topic: An explosion of content launched in 2020 through unprecedented disruptions for consumers. Once out in the marketplace, what is critical for new shows and platforms to achieve staying power? What creative messaging best relates to the current consumer mood? What is breaking through our current expansive entertainment choices? Marketers share their stories for best engagement strategies now.

Episode 8: Success in Entertainment Production
Panelists: Randy Barbato, Co-Founder, World of Wonder and Executive Producer, RuPaul’s Drag Race franchise; Michelle Sneed, President, Tyler Perry Studios; Rob Wade, President, Alternative Series, Fox Entertainment; Derek Smith, Entertainment and Media Partner, PwC; Jessica Rodriguez, President, Entertainment and Chief Marketing Officer, Univision
Topic: After weeks of lockdown, select shows have returned to production, following new safety guidelines. What shows are succeeding in this new production environment? How might current production realities influence the look and feel of new content audiences will see in the near term? What new creative, remote tech, production skills learned during shutdowns are being utilized now? How are budgets being rethought to account for new safety measures being put in place? Production execs and creative talent talk about the new normal for TV and film production.

Episode 9: The Entertainment & Media Workforce
Panelists: Vernā Myers, VP Inclusion Strategy, Netflix; Christine Simmons, Chief Operating Officer, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; Craig Robinson, EVP and Chief Diversity Officer, NBCUniversal; Blair H. Taylor, Partner, People & Organization and Co-Lead, Diversity & Inclusion, PwC; Ben Lopez, Executive Director, National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP)
Topic: Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, advancing diversity and inclusion in the entertainment industry remains a significant objective. The Black Lives Matter protests are being taken to heart, as entertainment companies are creating more film and TV projects featuring underrepresented groups in front of and behind the camera. How is this D&I commitment being carried out within our industry’s executive ranks? With D&I objectives in mind, how is our ongoing remote work force impacting how we make our hires, and how we work to support our colleagues during challenging times for all? Entertainment industry executives converge about strengthening their ranks through COVID-19.

Episode 10: Sports Industry Leadership Vision during COVID-19
Panelists: Mark McCaffrey, Partner and US Technology Media and Telecommunications Leader, PwC; Adam Grossman, Chief Marketing Officer, Boston Red Sox & Fenway Sports Management; Fara Leff, Chief Operating Officer, Klutch Sports Group (clients include LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Ben Simmons); Marissa Daly, VP and GM Media, Los Angeles Rams
Topic: A look at herculean efforts major sports are taking to play during this global pandemic. How did audiences take to watching re-started baseball and basketball—how did networks work to program in an exciting way without in-person fans? What are thoughts from the teams—will they look seriously on these seasons, or are these asterisks as it relates to competitive play and final rankings? What is the future for sports venues who rely on in-person attendance?


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