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 its upcoming fall and mid-season television shows for advertisers, the press, and the other networks. The annual upfronts for broadcast television generally occur in mid-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 7 PM to 11 PM. The application called WALLe (Walt’s ABC Lineup Loader for Executives), 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 the 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 secure 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. WALLe 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 WALLe in use.
Phase II – Operational. The second phase was the development and implementation of an 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 workflows between the Programming department, Studio Production, and Talent Acquisition.
Phase III – Data and Metadata. The last and most important phase was analytics and forecasting. The identification, collection, ingestion, normalization, and consolidation of programming/scheduling data and rich auxiliary metadata such as Nielsen ratings, streaming viewership, content synopses, financial budgets, marketing budgets, genre, producing studio, and associated talent (e.g. writers, directors, producers, actors) to provide near real-time reporting and data visualizations for all departments and personnel to consume for their business needs.
Sample use cases:
Heat map overlaying 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
This information can be subscribed to, automatically emailed, run on a schedule or run as-needed on-demand.
The Next Generation Reporting & Data (NGRD) project is a major initiative to build and establish an enterprise-wide reporting and data platform for Disney Entertainment.
The existing 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
We’ll approach this project in phases ultimately migrating all existing reporting systems onto the Amazon Web Services infrastructure creating one unified reporting platform, portal, and self-servicing data uploader for our Disney business units.
Phase I – Proof of Concept. Prove that AWS infrastructure will meet our needs as well as utilize AWS elasticity. AWS elasticity is the ability to acquire infrastructure resources as we need them and release resources when we no longer need them. Our processing power and needs fluctuate throughout the year. Reporting systems are busier during the end of a fiscal period. In between these periods, we don’t need the raw computing power required for a quarter close. We only pay for the computing power when we need it (pay as you go).
Phase II – Rationalize all current reports. All reports needed to be analyzed and validated. We reduced the current number of reports down from 1403 to 798. There were many reports that were no longer utilized or the business needs had changed and a report was no longer relevant.
Phase III – report migration. The development of an API and portal was instrumental in consolidating our reports in a single location. The API enables the creation of a data pipeline to any back-end data source, whether on-premise, in the cloud, or in a vendor environment. It also affords us the use of any front-end reporting tool (e.g. MS SSRS, Tableau, Power BI, Snowflake, etc), and business units are no longer limited to specific reporting tools.
NGRD is a hybrid, cloud-based (AWS), and on-premise reporting and data platform that consolidates current reporting portals into a single flexible, extensible portal that enables any back-end data sources to easily connect with front-end reporting tools.
Credits Consolidation, Composition, Planning & Organization (C3PO) would streamline workflows 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. The web portal also allows specific access to individuals outside of the Credits Administration business unit for legal reference and audits.
Phase II automates 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 develops 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.