At Fortune Brainstorm Tech in Aspen this week, the most enlightening part of my interview with CBS (CBS) Interactive president Jim Lanzone and NBCU EVP Lauren Zalaznick came when they riffed on the companies that are upsetting their old TV worlds.
On Netflix (NFLX): "The future is very bright," said Lanzone. Zalaznick announced "a personal plea to Reed Hastings to keep the long tail alive."
On Amazon (AMZN): "Jealous of Prime," Lanzone admitted. "Can't get enough of Amazon," said Zalaznick.
She called Google "awesome, scary, can do anything they want," while Lanzone confessed he worries most about Apple (AAPL).
These two TV execs directed their most provocative comments, though, at YouTube--the subject of Fortune's new cover story. In the piece, my colleague Miguel Helft casts YouTube as an irrepressible mainstream entertainment platform and says that following the broadcast and cable TV eras, "the new era is the web incarnation with tens of thousands of channels tailored to niche audiences." He calls YouTube "the next generation Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Cox Cable rolled into one."
Zalaznick, who works for NBCU owner Comcast (CMCSA), essentially agreed, noting that people today are saying about YouTube today as they did 30 years ago when cable TV was dawning. "Everyone saying 'there's too much choice, nobody wants that.' That was 30 years ago," Zalaznick said. "'Amateur content, nobody wants that.' That was also 30 years ago. And 'Advertisers will never want that.' That was also 30 years ago."
"The dissimilarities are the finances, which were very strong at the very dawn of cable," Zalaznick added. But someone will figure out the finances, she believes. "To use a youthful phrase, it's all good. Because when there's that much energy around audience consumption, you have to be there. And you will find a way to commercialize it."
She's out to prove her point about YouTube's transcendence: Next week, Zalaznick plans to take her daughter to VidCon, the world's largest online video convention. That's a YouTube fan's dream ticket--and her daughter's high-school graduation present.
Here's the full transcript and video of my interview with Lanzone and Zalaznick--and a correction since during the session, I erred in quoting some Nielsen stats from Fortune's YouTube story. These stats are correct in the story: Americans watch 34 hours of TV and one hour of online video weekly. But habits are shifting, as 18-to-24-year-olds watch 23 hours of TV and two and a half hours of video online.
"If Twitter is the telephone, we're the conversation."
That comment was a highlight of Fortune Brainstorm Tech's "Future of Television" discussion on Thursday—even though the person who said it wasn't in the room.
No offense to the panelists on stage: Disney (DIS) Media Networks co-chair Anne Sweeney, CBS (CBS) exec Nancy Tellem, and NBC Universal's (CMCSA) Lauren Zalaznick. But the remark--which moderator Jason Hirschhorn said former MTV Networks (VIA) CEO Judy McGrath MOREPatricia Sellers - Jul 22, 2011 11:35 AM ET
by Patricia Sellers
Back in 1987, Charlie Sheen was starring in the movie Wall Street and on the cusp of a big career.
And when we at Fortune challenged the Wall Street cast to a softball game in Manhattan one night, Sheen struck us as a cocky 21-year-old who ogled the girls and wagged his butt at the plate.
He didn't seem terribly threatening when I pitched against him that night. But he MOREPatricia Sellers - Mar 3, 2011 3:23 PM ET
by Patricia Sellers
I was visiting Gina Bianchini, the founder and former CEO of Ning, in Silicon Valley last month, and we found ourselves randomly wondering: Why are boycotts, so common years ago, not a popular product of the Internet era?
With social networking all the rage, we thought, how easy it is to organize impassioned people and mobilize.
Which brings to mind an idea: Can we boycott Charlie Sheen?
The boycott--a word coined MOREPatricia Sellers - Mar 2, 2011 1:32 PM ET
Sarah Palin changed the game for women and power, and it'll never be the same again. So say a few well-known women -- Arianna Huffington, former vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, White House Project president Marie Wilson, and More magazine editor in chief Lesley Jane Seymour -- who met in New York this morning for "The Spin Room: Gender, Politics and Media in the 2008 Election." The lively panel was MOREPatricia Sellers - Nov 13, 2008 1:44 PM ET
"Go vote now. It'll make you feel big and strong."
-- CBS (CBS) News Washington bureau chief Bob Schieffer shared this advice from his mother last night, as a closer to the final debate between Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain. In these tumultous times when we can feel so powerless, voting is one way that to make our voices heard. There is a consensus that this was the liveliest MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Oct 16, 2008 5:24 PM ET
"One thing I've learned playing with people at the top of their game, from captains of industry to rock stars, is that they want to do the things that unsuccessful people don't want to do. They want the risks and the responsibility, whereas others want the comfort in mediocrity."
- David Feherty, CBS Sports golf analyst shared this with me in a conversation this afternoon, casting himself in the role of MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Jun 25, 2008 9:51 PM ET
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