The competition for viewership between the major broadcast networks is fierce. As television audiences start to decline due to the internet, Networks continually shift and move their television shows to fight for the coveted Nielsen rating. The base lineup of the Prime Time schedule is the foundation for the ABC Network Ad Sales organization to sell advertising space against. This lineup is announced collectively for all major broadcast networks (e.g. ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX) at the annual upfront events at Ad Week in New York.
In the television industry, an upfront is a gathering at the start of important advertising sales periods, held by television network executives and attended by major advertisers and the media. Each major television network previews their upcoming fall and mid-season television shows for advertisers, the press, and the other networks. Annual upfronts for television generally occurs in early May.
Product Road Map
Phase I – Strategy. This first phase was the creation of a strategic planning tool for ABC Network to aid C-Level executives (e.g. Bob Iger et al) in crafting the Prime Time schedule (aka lineup) at the series level. Prime Time is the block of broadcast programming which takes place during the middle of the evening for television between 7PM to to 11PM. The application called Wall-E (Walt’s ABC Lineup Loader – Entertainment), was the first of its kind enabling users to easily manipulate and create planning schedules with almost zero learning curve. During the development of this system Bob Iger was busy launching Shanghai Disney resort so he wasn’t present for all of the planning sessions. One of the key requirements for this system was the ability to collaborate securely without the use of video conference technology since the technology at that time did not provide security encryption. The ABC Prime Time schedule is the basis and foundation for all ABC Network Advertising Sales and key marketing partnerships; a breach in data security would be financially detrimental to Ad Sales. Wall-E is browser agnostic and is built around a secured messaging system that allows any user viewing the website the ability to control and collaborate with other users securely in “real-time”. Click here to see Wall-E in use.
Phase II – Operational. The second phase was the development and implementation of a operational planning tool to manage the day to day Prime Time schedule at the episodic level. This application was called EVE (Evaluate, Verify & Ensconce) which streamlined and automated the daily operations of programming and production work flows between the Programming department, Studio Production and Talent Acquisition.
Phase III – Tactical/Contingency. The last and most important phase was tactical and contingency planning. The identification, collection, ingestion, normalization and consolidation of programming/scheduling meta data such as Nielsen ratings, online viewership, financial budgets, marketing budgets, associated talent (e.g. writers, directors, producers, actors) and content synopses to provide near real-time reporting and data visualizations for all departments and personnel to consume (with approval) for their business needs.
Sample use cases are:
Heat map overlayed on a programming schedule illustrating viewership activity by date/time for programming strategists.
Budget map for financial analysts to understand upcoming quarterly financial demands.
Key content release schedules for marketing and creative development to understand overall releases to avoid competing conflicts or leverage gaps
These reports can be subscribed to, automatically emailed, run on a schedule or run as-needed on-demand. All reports have controlled access and are tightly secured.
The Next Generation Reporting & Data (NGRD) project is a major initiative to build and establish an enterprise-wide reporting and data platform for Disney General Entertainment.
Old reporting portals and tools were disparate; on antiquated technology stacks; not built in a scalable manner; required a large overhead to support and maintain.
Product Road Map
The phased approach will ultimately migrate current reporting systems onto the Amazon Web Services platform as well as create one unified reporting portal for the company.
We will create a hybrid, cloud-based (AWS) and on-premise reporting/data platform that consolidates current reporting portals into a single flexible, extensible portal that enables back-end data sources to easily connect with front end reporting tools such as Microsoft SSRS, Power BI and Tableau.
Credits Consolidation, Composition, Planning & Organization (C3PO) would streamline work flows between post production business units as well as centralize episodic television credits into a single source system.
Why do we show credits at the end of movies and television shows?
Credits refer to a list of acknowledgments of those who contributed to the creation of a movie or television program. Production companies are legally obligated by the guilds (e.g. WGA, DGA, PGA, SAG, etc) to display credits. In certain circumstances there are legal contracts to the order of how their name appears (e.g. special credit at end of primary cast display) or their title (e.g. Executive Producer).
Credits were manually tracked on disparate Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, eMails, post-it notes or worse in people’s memories. Credits displayed incorrectly result in financial penalties. C3PO would address these pain points.
Product Road Map
Phase I create a web portal to capture, consolidate, review and approve Credits eliminating the managing of Credits through disparate and manual methods. Web portal also allows specific access to individuals outside of the Credits Administration business unit for legal reference and audits.
Phase II automate the creation of Credits, calculating guild timings against remaining Credits time. Drastically reduce the time, expense and potential typographical errors incurred with manual creation.
Phase III develop distribution functions to generate 30 second .MOV files or single frame images of Credits for delivery to post-production video facilities.
Executive Vice President CTO @ MGM Studios
Gordon was responsible for managing the companies global deployment of our document management system. His attention to detail and strong client/customer focus was instrumental in the success of the project.
Global CIO @ Christie's Auctions
Gordon was part of my west coast team in my 2nd role at Disney ABC TV Group and served as a Business Technology Partner to many strategy business units in Burbank, CA. Gordon was highly skilled at developing deep relationships with his internal clients and understanding their business processes and systems in support of their strategic objectives. Calm, honest, charming, technical, accountable, and always outcome-oriented, everything you want in an IT/Tech Business Partner. Highly recommended.
Executive Director @ Walt Disney Studios
Gordon manages the interaction with ABC Business Units and was responsible for the IT Project Management, Customer Relationship Management, and coordination with technical support teams. The work was focused on delivering a diverse suite of tools used in the support of the ABC Network Operations.
Gordon has a great understanding of the television business and what is needed to move the business forward. He interacted with the business teams and leadership on a daily basis and ensured his team was meeting the demands of the segment. Gordon works with limited resources to provide systems and services which are critical the success of ABC. He was a trusted partner during my tenure at ABC.
Vice President @ NBC Universal Media
As both an Infrastructure Project Manager and the Director of Computer Operations, I have had the chance to work with Gordon Marantz, both in the development of new systems and the support of existing.
Gordon is an experienced manager with strong planning and communication skills.
Gordon is particularly good at working with clients to identify their IT needs, build a business case and develop implementation plans. He is able to work with demanding clients, while maintaining a productive and professional demeanor.
Executive Entertainment Strategist
Gordon GETS THINGS DONE. He does this with a three-pronged approach. 1) He listens carefully to the desired outcomes of our team. 2) He knows/stays up-to-date on every tech solution we have available and all the players who manage them. 3) He knows the rules and uses those insights to help us make great choices that can be sustained and supported. He is an absolutely great person to work with, smart and informed and delightful and committed, and that means that we are always excited to call him to strategize possible solutions for our needs and his colleagues are always happy to help when it's time to implement what we've devised together.
Sr. Director @ NBA
Gordon was a pleasure to work with, as he was a west coast based business tech partner, and I was an IT manager in NYC. Gordon has that special gene that allows him to translate end user requirements and time lines into realistic technical deliverables keeping both the development team and end users happy. Gordon has also been very good under pressure and was always someone I could go to for a true, honest picture of the current environment.