What’s new in home tech?

I try to stay current on the latest in home entertainment technology. This helps me and my team to understand how our audiences will view and discover their television content.  With that in mind, I visited the annual CEDIA conference — Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association.

These are the folks who design and install home theaters, media rooms, whole house audio and video and home automation.  This year’s expo floor was filled with plenty of big TV’s, digital projectors and screens, comfy theatre seats, home networking and connected devices, remote controls, amps, speakers and automation devices.

A wild TV set up with speakers at the CEDIA Expo.

A wild TV set up with speakers at the CEDIA Expo.

Everyone had an “app” for just about anything.  The biggest change from years past was in the amount of horizontal growth in devices like locks, automatic shades and curtains, energy monitors and lighting and climate tools.  More vendors offering more choices and each with their own operating system — app based — rather than vertically integrated systems like Crestron or Savant or Control 4 where you buy the whole ecosystem from them.

homeseer-e1380725554629-300x225As always I used this as a great opportunity to catch up with my friends from HomeSeer Technologies.  Rich, Mark, Rick and Jon were in full force. HomeSeer is a terrific home automation product  — it’s flexible, easy to use and highly expandable. I have used mine for over a decade — always growing, improving, and learning.  As I say, I don’t fish and I don’t play golf, so my leisure time pursuits are working with home automation and watching sports on TV.  HomeSeer continues to give me a lot to play with.




Curtain up!

It’s here. The week we’ve all strategized and prepared for since May. When America gets to see the new CBS shows for the first time, and gets to find out what’s next on their returning favorites. It’s an exciting time for all of us in the business: the anticipation of a new season ends and the magic begins as the remotes all click on. After all the hype, the attention, and the reviews, here comes the reality: America decides what they want to watch.

What new shows and characters will people fall in love with? What will audiences respond to? We’re about to find out. For those of us in entertainment marketing, it’s a night-by-night grind-it-out battle. Every tenth of a rating point could mean millions of dollars in revenues. Every new show franchise that becomes a hit could last for years and years and become a valuable asset in our content library. The stakes are high. So is the anxiety. But hey, that’s network TV! I’m so proud of what our marketing team delivers, year after year: innovation, creativity, and smart strategy. Here we go! Only CBS!

(Credit: CBS)

Summertime…and the living is busy

This is when normal people take vacation, but in the network TV marketing business, summer is our most intense period.

From May 16 when we announce the new fall schedule at our Upfront presentation to September 24, premiere week, we are laser focused on one thing: launching our new shows.

The process starts with watching pilots, meeting with producers and programmers, listening to research findings, and then translating all that into the science and art of entertainment marketing campaigns.

On-air promotional spots, print ads (see my previous blog post) radio spots, billboards, digital campaigns, interactive displays — you name it, we’re doing it. And there’s as much strategy in the media that we buy as there is in the ad creative itself.

2012-2013 Series Key Art

Watch the show previews on CBS.com.

What’s the “secret sauce” at CBS? We’re a tight-knit and totally integrated team. Programming, marketing, publicity, and research — we all work together focused on our message and on our marketing strategy. And when it comes to the constantly changing world of tech, we all understand that technology serves our programming, not the other way around. People watch shows, not platforms!

To get them to watch, we harness the momentum from our very solid returning schedule, so the promo spots about new shows are seen by millions of TV fans. And we bring a huge amount of marketing muscle to the game using the massive reach of the CBS TV Network, CBS Radio, CBS Interactive, and CBS Outdoor to support fall launches, in addition to lots of off-network media that we buy.

Then our added “secret weapons” are our more than 200 CBS affiliate stations — they are our local marketing partners on the front lines in communities across America. All of these elements work in tandem all summer long.

Last week we sent out the creative for all of our billboards and print ads. New TV spots are produced every week. Trailers about our shows are running in thousands of movie theaters this summer; that’s all part of our strategy for reaching entertainment fans while the Olympics dominate network TV. And as the weeks progress, consumers will be seeing more and more of our marketing messages on every platform imaginable, so get ready!

In addition to placing promos and ads on owned and paid media, there will be apps, tweets, and posts galore in the social sphere. There’s a saying in our business: just when you are sick of hearing about something is when it is just starting to break through to everyone else. So get ready, and as always, stay tuned.

A TV New Year’s Eve to remember

Guy Lombardo, 'Mr. New Year's Eve,' the Dick Clark and Ryan Seacrest of his time. (Credit: CBS)

Guy Lombardo, ‘Mr. New Year’s Eve,’ the Dick Clark and Ryan Seacrest of his time.
(Credit: CBS)

Early in my career, I was assigned as the production supervisor for CBS New Year’s Eve with Guy Lombardo (look it up, people under 40).

My assignment was not the fancy Waldorf Astoria where Guy and the band entertained high-paying New Year’s Eve revelers. I was the “guy” who was freezing his butt off across town in Times Square at our little CBS mobile unit on 45th Street and Broadway.

The Guy Lombardo New Year’s Eve special was the No. 1 New Year’s Eve entertainment special for more than a decade, simulcast on TV and radio well before Dick Clark came on the scene for ABC.

My job was to hold the fort in the middle of the chaos so our cameraman, stationed on top of our van, could get the best shots of the celebration, and our guy on the theater marquis could shoot the ball drop.

Like me, the director was a young guy who drew the short straw with this less than cushy assignment, and he had a plan to make the most of the night in the blistering cold away from his loved ones. He told me to get cardboard and a marker, write “Happy New Year Sue!” (his wife) on it, and offer some lucky kid outside the van the chance to be on national TV if he held up the sign in the middle of the crowd.

Not to be outdone, I inked a similar “Happy New Year Katie!” (my wife, watching at home) and ventured into the pre-midnight madness to find some likely suspects to do our bidding. Two guys from Jersey, already well into the celebration, happily handled the signs for us. With a few minutes until midnight, the shot from Times Square was a closeup of these two signs, pulling back to reveal the happy scene of midnight mayhem. What a business!

Coincidental to this New Year’s Eve of my early career, the same Katie for whom I made the sign has posted some very interesting stories about the history and tradition of the New Year’s Eve Times Square Ball drop on her site.

Wishing you and your loved ones a happy, safe, and healthy 2012, and as always, stay tuned!

Hollywood meets Hawaii

Just a few short days until the broadcast premiere of “Hawaii Five-0.” To help get America psyched up, we put together a music video featuring Hawaii Five-0 series stars Grace Park and Daniel Dae Kim along with the USC Trojan Marching Band performing the theme song.

We shot the music video both on the band’s home field in Los Angeles and on picturesque Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, when the band traveled to Hawaii for the September 2 kickoff game of the 2010 college football season between the USC Trojans and the University of Hawaii Warriors.

Through the years, the Trojan Marching Band has appeared in more than 100 movies and television shows and multiple times on the Academy Awards and Grammy Awards. What better way to support an iconic brand than with an iconic band. Take a look, and don’t forget to tune in on Monday night!