View from the hit makers of Modern Family, Glee and more

At the Banff World Media Festival, Dana Walden and Gary Newman from Twentieth Century Fox spoke about their hits and the trends they see in the television industry. They did stress that when they went strategic (ie. filling a slot) rather than going with their passion and backing the creative, they haven’t been as successful.

This year there will be more comedies on networks. Walden and Newman believe it is because of the incredible success of Modern Family. The characters on the show are water cooler talk and every network wants a hit like that for themselves.

The talk turned to the challenges of producing in a multi-platform universe. Twentieth Century Fox produces Glee which has been its own cottage industry. Glee has had more than 30 million i-tune downloads from their passionate fans. The producers see their role as brand building where they treat each show as a separate independent business.

Surprisingly or perhaps not, Walden and Newman were a bit skeptical about about newer platforms like Netflix. For them, it is a real balance between the push of a network launch and giving audiences what they want when they want it. With production costs rising, they just didn’t think the emphasis on newer platforms can financially support high quality programming.

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