Marketing key to drama success says ABC’s Paul Lee

paul_lee_banff_1Paul Lee, the boss of US broadcast net ABC, has said that in the current fragmented media landscape, breakout dramas need a marketing hook to enable them to stand out from the competition.

“We live in a very, very fragmented and competitive world there are hundreds of other shows out there and hundreds of competitors so for a show to really break out it needs to be really marketable and you need to market it well,” Lee told a TV Fest Talks, part of the Edinburgh Television Festival, event in London.

“That may be casting, that may be by idea or that may be by hook or that may just be by brand that fits our brand. But a show that is unmarketable is becoming increasingly difficult to succeed, by the way, on any platform.”

He added: “That marketing hook – less important ten years ago, when the lead-in was everything, has become incredibly important now.”

Of ABC’s recent launches, Shonda Rhimes’ series How to Get Away With Murder is the biggest success. In terms of marketing, ABC airs it alongside two of Rhimes’ other series, Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal on a Thursday night.

Lee who has worked at UK pubcaster the BBC, BBC Worldwide’s US cable net and cable channel operator Discovery, also said that the big-character ob-docs that have enjoyed such huge success on US cable will start to transfer to broadcast.

“We’ve seen a number of waves of reality TV that went through cable and I was a part of a lot of this when I was at BBC America and inside the Discovery group,” he said. “You saw the makeover wave go through [to broadcast] and we saw the game show waves go through. The one wave that didn’t get to broadcast is docusoap and I’m sure that there is a way to do docusoaps in big broadcast television.”

He added that variety is another genre at which ABC is looking: “We haven’t seen variety recently so there are a number of different areas we are looking for,” he said.

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