Last year at that time, Adweek asked several of the most iconic TV executives to speak out about the industry’s biggest challenges facing 2020. Of course, while their answers were insightful, none of them anticipated what was actually turning the industry – and the rest of the world – this year: Covid-19.
As part of our reporting on the year under review, we asked many of the key industry players to reflect on the greatest things they have learned since the pandemic began. What about the business that has changed permanently due to Covid-19 and how are they dealing with it? Your job was changed as a result.
Here's how 11 top TV managers who oversee broadcast, cable, and streaming outlets answered these questions. In the coming days, we'll also hear from sales directors, buyers and television advertising analysts about how the pandemic has changed business and what's ahead for 2021.
What's the greatest thing you've learned since the pandemic started?
Frances Berwick, Chair of Entertainment Networks, NBCUniversal Television and Streaming: My deepest insights over the past nine months have all focused on how innovative and creative we have become as an industry in the face of seemingly impossible barriers. It was really inspiring to see how quickly our in-house studios and third-party production partners were able to adjust to remote editing and restart production with full security protocols from Covid-19 and how our talent put their trust in us during these challenging times.
And I've learned that if we take the opportunity, our audience will follow us. From the 22 million Americans who watched Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on NBC to the launch of Bravo's biggest series premiere in nearly five years with the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, we put nearly 2,000 hours of original content on NBC. Our broadcast partners, our syndication studio and our six cable entertainment networks since the quarantine began. We delivered immersive storytelling and a heartwarming spectacle – and we were rewarded with deeper engagement and greater scope.
Rick Cordella, EPP and Chief Revenue Officer, Peacock: As individuals and as an organization, it's amazing what we can achieve from afar. At Peacock, we were able to quickly set the pivotal points and meet the deadlines we set before the pandemic, including a soft start on April 15 and a national start on July 15. Our people are spread across different countries and continents, but we are working as effectively and efficiently as ever.
Kathleen Finch, Chief Lifestyle Brands Officer of Discovery Inc .: The power to solve big problems can be released in intelligent, motivated and collaborative teams. With all the horrific events going on this year, it was incredibly exciting to find new ways to ensure our viewers got new episodes of the program they love – and need more than ever when they were stuck at home. We invented new ways of recording and editing our shows, flipping episodes within days, and doing everything we can to ensure that our networks provide a calming respite to a stressed nation. It was a daunting challenge, but we produced 500 episodes during the shutdown and it was the most enjoyable experience I've ever had in my career.
Andy Forssell, Head of HBO Max Global: The rapid growth in audience and hours we've seen on HBO Max makes it very clear that great storytelling is more important than ever – that in times of stress, whether dramatic or fleeting, entertainment plays an incredibly important role in people's lives .