‘Modern Family’ Overexposed Online? ABC Exec Disagrees

Modern Family

When Turner Broadcasting CEO Phil Kent suggested earlier this month that the syndication-market value of the ABC (NYSE: DIS) comedy Modern Family was diluted by overexposure online, nary a peep came in response from the broadcast network. But if you’re curious how ABC sees it, there was a telling exchange last Friday at Hill Holliday’s TVNext conference.

When Rick Mandler, vice president of digital media at ABC, was asked what he thought of Kent’s comments, he offered a rather interesting dismissal of the overexposure theory–grounded in pretty basic math.

“When shows got 10 ratings and 30 shares, no one in the syndication market said, ‘Oh it’s overexposed, I’m not buying that.’ Now they’re getting 3 ratings and 10 shares, and a little extra viewing on all these other ancillary platforms–and suddenly they’re overexposed. It just doesn’t make sense to me.”

If you don’t understand the language of TV ratings, Mandler is contrasting the TV business of 10-15 years ago, when top broadcast shows amassed far bigger audiences than they do today, when the audience is hopelessly fragmented with competition from cable and the internet. Given that ancillary platforms that exhibit Modern like ABC.com and Hulu get a fraction of what even today’s diminished TV audience gets, it’s a bit absurd to deem that overexposure in comparison to yesteryear.

Amid all this hype over the rising flood of online video, it’s worth remembering tis’ but a puddle in comparison with the TV business.

You have to click to the very end of the Mandler interview below to see the exchange (go to 7:35 mark). And apologies to Hill Holliday if embedding this video impacts its value should the company be looking to sell it into TV syndication.

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