Television is a battleground, and TV executives are aiming right at viewers -- especially the slower-moving consumers.
"We have a sniper focus on 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. to drive a power audience flow," said Ben Silverman, co-chairman of NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios, during a panel at the National Association of Television Program Executives meeting on Tuesday, in response to NBC's radical prime-time move by having Jay Leno running 10 p.m. five days a week, thus trimming the number of hours the network needs to program.
Somewhat along the same lines, Lionsgate chairman Jon Feltheimer said during a NATPE keynote that more niche targets are the answer. He noted the slices for the big TV cake are seemingly getting thinner and thinner. But that's not bad news.
Feltheimer called for more risk-taking because, while the entertainment business is being sucked into the weak economy just like every other industry, there are actually more people watching more TV than ever before.
All this amounts to nice feel-good statements for an industry that has seen almost 80,000 jobs lost recently across a number of large media companies.
Entertainment can be recession-resistant -- you just have to pick your spots. NetFlix, the mail-order DVD rental company, had its biggest fourth quarter ever -- with its stock soaring 15% on Tuesday. Why? One analyst says the results were "driven in part by consumers substituting the far cheaper Netflix service for theater viewing."
Does this speak to the niche, sniper focus needed to win in this media business environment -- or just sluggish, cost-conscious entertainment consumers not willing to leave their couches or homes for entertainment?