Patricia Handshiegel

Digital Dish covers the ins and outs of an Internet executive moving into the television arena. Disher Patricia Handschiegel is the founder of Stylediary.net, which she sold to Stylehive.com in November 2007. She has a background in Internet infrastructure and technology business, was an advisor to Kaboodle.com (sold to Hearst in 2007), and has contributed as an entertainment/media business writer for Venturebeat.com. She’s also been an early visionary of professional Internet TV content since 2005 and is currently an advisor on several entertainment/Internet projects. Always an entrepreneur, she had a highly profitable babysitting monopoly at 11, lent her writing skill to students at 17 and landed her first published national article at 23.

She has also worked as a ghost writer for a national TV correspondent. At 22, she was recognized nationally for promoting the growth of women’s hockey and advised companies on creating hockey products for women. She’s been quoted and profiled in dozens of media outlets since and is currently developing two book concepts. A serial entrepreneur, she plans to continue to build Internet, entertainment and media companies, with the goal of promoting social change and charities. She is currently involved in the use of technology to help find missing and abused children, and has contributed financially to TheJoyfulChild.org and other organizations. She is the founder of Look|Shop|List.com (in development).


Digital Dish

October 2008 Archives

More on the Economy and Web TV

October 31, 2008 5:27 PM

While entertainment has been said to be recession-proof by some, Web TV may be another story. It seems that every other day there are layoffs at some of the top Web 2.0 sites, with companies across the board either talking about lower revenues, or the anticipation of lower revenues, from advertisers.

It comes at the same time that many are hopeful for a boom in product placement and sponsorship in Web TV shows.

As anybody in Web TV content can attest, making even the simplest of shows can cost money.

It has a creator-producer like myself wondering: Will the downturn in the economy hurt Web TV? Or will the fact that consumers will be tightening budgets mean more people will seek entertainment online?

And most of all, will brands will keep spending on the Web?

Only time will tell. Over the past few weeks, many top minds and voices in Internet business, from venture capitalists to bloggers and media, have been sharing thoughts about how to weather the storm. But since much of Web TV has sponsorship baked in at the front end, before launching, I’m not entirely sure existing shows will be all that affected.

However, will it hurt the innovation and development of future Web shows?

I don’t think so. A lot of Hollywood creators have the ability to self-fund their ideas, and while brands are expected to scale back in spending money, it’s unlikely that they’ll cut spending overall. After all, they still need to market and advertise to some degree lest they lose their audience. With Internet entertainment continuing to grow, I wouldn’t be surprised if the money they do spend will be online, especially as big names like Ashton Kutcher, Seth MacFarlane and other creatives get in the game.

One thing I can say is that I definitely started watching more television while homebound with a broken ankle this past month. I barely watched any one show consistently before this, as my schedule was so busy. But once my mobility was limited, I was parked in front of shows like “Oprah,” “Heroes” and many others day after day each week.

Who knows, maybe the downturn in the market will be exactly what the Internet needs. Studies have suggested that if push came to shove, consumers would be more apt to cut their cable TV than their Web access.

It’ll be interesting to see how things play out.

A Sneak Peek at My Idea

October 29, 2008 1:07 PM

This week, I finally grabbed a copy of the sizzle reel on my broadcast TV project. I know, I know, I should have had this in my hands weeks ago. But remember, I’m not the only one who goes in on network meetings.

Having it available has meant I’ve gotten to show it to colleagues, friends and other people. So far, everybody has said they love it, though of course this could be more about their relationship with me than anything. Nonetheless, it’s still exciting.

Our early test market of women in general had a very positive response as well, but what really matters is what the networks think about it. Will they fall in love?

We’ll see. As I watch it with others, it’s hard not to feel charged either way. Six months ago, I was new to the television business. Just a girl with an idea. Today, seeing even a tiny slice of that vision in that two-minute reel is almost as rewarding as if it were on TV. If it never makes it on the air, I still feel so lucky to have had the chance, and to work in such an incredible industry.

While it all still remains to be seen whether it works, what do I think makes it sizzle, so to speak?

It’s like nothing else on television. I know the bar is high and network executives aren’t easily swayed, but my show idea was created directly out of what I saw the audience talking about in terms of what they wish to see. The majority of television programming for women plays on similar concepts and themes. Mine differs from this in many ways.

It’s believable. I’ve talked about what creates attachment on Digital Dish in the past, and I have a long history of designing successful projects for women and getting them involved/engaged. My show plays on the specific elements I think will work for TV.

It’s exciting. While fun and fantasy is great in TV, and we all wish we could be rich, privileged, etc., there’s plenty more things that get people charged up. I think a lot of what the show is about will do just that, and you won’t need to max out your Visa!

It’s multiplatform. I believe in today’s market, ideas need to cross boundaries and reach people in a variety of ways. Call it ancillary revenue opportunity or multiplatform, I baked a lot of this into the idea.

It’s passionate. It’s a fact that passion can sell. I sold somebody with this very thing the other day. Get in the room with the people behind my idea, from the production partners to the cast and crew, and you feel it. I believe this will pour through should it make it on TV.

Most of all, I am so thankful to have the chance to take a shot at the business! Would you like to take a peek at it? Let me know!

Women’s TV Has Anger Issues

October 22, 2008 10:14 AM

Every morning, my Google reader dishes me headlines from every TV trade along with tech, media and entertainment business news. It means that for the past few months I’ve gotten a bird’s-eye view of what’s being talked about in the industry, from new shows and reviews to acquisitions and business moves.

'Gossip Girl'

The CW's 'Gossip Girl'

I think the last five New York Times reviews of women’s shows have pointed out a redundant theme. No, it’s not the “I’m rich/I’m cute/I’m stupid” trend driven by people like Paris Hilton and Jessica Simpson a few years ago.

Now it’s “I’m rich/I’m vapid/I’m out to get you.”

Same little dogs, same big sunglasses, pursed lips and vapid, elaborate lives. Only now, instead of constantly shopping and walking around with a blank stare, it’s plotting with an evil sneer.

As a viewer, I’m not sure which is worse.

When I bring this up to friends in the industry, they say it’s what the audience wants. To me it seems like a lazy way to create drama and tension. How do you spice up an otherwise boring show or cast? Catfight!

But some of the best, longest-running shows didn’t play on that theme. Just look at “Friends.”
It’s said “Gossip Girl” is one of the CW’s weakest shows in ratings, that it’s only popular on the coasts. I think the cattiness has a lot to do with it.

As a woman, you know that overall, women just aren’t wired like this. Yes, in high school there are always those bitchy, insecure girls who pick on people, but there isn’t a woman I know who is vindictive, plotting or who hates other women. Far larger is the number of women who represent just the opposite.

Think of it as the difference between Janice Dickenson and Oprah Winfrey. Last time I checked, Miley Cyrus was out-earning Heidi and Lauren (of “The Hills”) by a long shot.

Maybe cattiness, anger and hate sells, to a point, but the bigger money sure seems to be in women being good. To a woman, a good woman is cool.

How Creative Can TV Be?

October 20, 2008 2:15 PM

I’ve been working on broadcast television projects for the past few months. When I think about how things can be produced and what TV shows can include, it’s exciting. I’ve already posted that about ancillary revenue streams and a Web/interactive element baked in, but it’s more than just that. Different camera angles, unique themes, etc. It feels like the possibilities are endless!
I’m new to the entertainment business though. I wonder: How creative will you get to be on your first projects in the eyes of development execs?

I’ve watched TV many years and it plays a part in the shows I am creating. A lot of my concepts also evolved out of feedback/chatter on and offline over the years of owning my social media company, Stylediary.net. I tried to incorporate some of the things that it seemed people wanted. For those who may be new to Digital Dish, I spent a long time in media before moving into TV (including owning Stylediary). I’ve been excited to take what I’ve learned in media into my television projects. Lots of what we’re doing has been seen on other shows, too.

It’s all very cool. But as I talk with my production partners, manager, etc., it seems that a lot of network executives play it safe and keep to what works. It’s said that there is little room to be creative.

I’m not surprised—even in the short time I’ve been directly in the market, it’s obvious that it’s difficult to know what’ll be a hit and what won’t. I know it’s also very hard to land a high-level, decision-maker role in the business.

But I have heard more than once that television suffers as a result. For every “Heroes” or “Entourage,” they say, are a half-dozen scripted and non-scripted shows that feel redundant.
But with the down market, where people might be turning to the Internet and TV more, I wonder: Could it be a good time to put TV on blast and switch things up to generate a new excitement about shows?

UK television comes out with really interesting ideas that are often replicated here. What if American TV could turn it the other way around?

I would love to see it, not just as a creator/producer but as a viewer too.

But as ad revenues are expected to go down, I wonder if it’ll make it even harder for networks to take creative risks. Only time will tell—both overall and with my projects. I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on this.

Five Things Not to Love About the Biz

October 17, 2008 6:25 PM

While I’ve lived in Hollywood for six years, I’ve worked in an industry centered elsewhere for most of the time. It’s meant a lot of flights to New York and San Francisco versus sticking around town. Outside of a few meetings here and there for my first start-up, Stylediary, it was rare that I did any business in the L.A. area.

For the past six months, I’ve at last both lived and worked in town, as a producer of my own Web and traditional TV projects, and as a digital media/entertainment advisor and consultant.
I have to admit, I love it. The industry is such a cool mix of creative and business, and seems to have tons of opportunity for women. It’s an incredible challenge to put a project together, but like anything, the more you do it, the easier it gets.

But, for as much as you can love Tinseltown, there’s plenty about it that you learn to dislike. Love it or leave it, its part of the business, of course. However, if you’re newly entering a market, this is what you will go up against:

1. The Layers. A production takes a lot of moving parts and therefore a lot of people. But, the downside is that the industry is comprised of a dizzying amount of layers, a small number of which are decision markers. It can be hard to find your way–and do business.

2. It’s Expensive. For $8 (domain name) and any free blogging platform, you can launch an Internet business. TechCrunch.com is one of the biggest sites in the business world–and it’s a blog on Word Press. For $1k, I have a 2 minute sizzle reel. Unless the project sells, there’ll be no return on that investment.

3. It’s Time Consuming. If there is any place I’ve felt overwhelmed by the entertainment market, it’s been here. In my world (iInternet), a site can go live in minutes. In this business? Not a chance. Years later and you still may not have sold your show. It took months to make a sizzle on one of my projects.

4. There’s Rif Raf. Hollywood seems to have an enormous amount of people who say they work in entertainment but really don’t. It can make doing business here very tough until you find an ‘in’ into the system. It can also be expensive.

5. It’s Tight. There are only so many slots for shows at a network, and only so many networks. And then, those networks branch into niches, so you’ve got to plug into something from there. You then have to get that story on the arc, have all the tension, the organic connection….. It makes it very hard as a creator.

Field Guide to the Web Game

October 14, 2008 11:13 AM

This week, “Saturday Night Live” and HBO announced that they’ll be launching online video efforts, joining the ranks of other Hollywood types like Hulu.com, Strike.TV, etc., in providing content on the Internet. It came with excitement, of course. The more big content players in the category, the better.

Success for everyone depends on how well the industry as a whole can attract an audience. Big names haven’t always meant success online. In fact, historically it has appeared to be the opposite.

The Internet’s a level playing field where two guys in a garage eating Ramen noodles can outsmart a multimillion-dollar effort. Success and failure all depend on the ability to understand the Internet and how to drive people to your Web site. No amount of money can guarantee it.

So what do giant players like “Saturday Night Live” and HBO need to do to achieve YouTube-like success? I believe it all boils down to thinking more like the little guys when it comes to developing an audience and ultimately, growing a Web business.

Start-ups put an intense, relentless effort into generating presence and building an audience at a very hand-to-hand level. Go to any Internet event and you’ll find many networking, speaking, presenting and working the crowd. They pass out stickers; people work their presence.

I believe big companies need to see the Web in the same way. If nobody knew about you, how would you tell them about it?

Start-ups also can’t afford to make mistakes and don’t recover as easily from bad ideas, so there’s a cautious look-before-launching mentality. They work to know a category, what’s missing, and what people want, then design from there.

A lot of the best ideas online, like YouTube and MySpace, spun out of a handful of small people noticing something that everybody could use.

Big companies can do the same. The market’s an easy read if you’re careful where you look. With “SNL” and HBO, they’re very different and so would be the strategy. It will be very interesting to see how both do.

Will the Economy Help TV and the Web?

October 9, 2008 8:40 PM

Historically, it’s said that during economic down times, the entertainment business has weathered the storm. As situations push consumers to lay low and spend time near home, plenty of signs have suggested that they turn to lower-cost entertainment like TV and movies.

It makes sense. It costs about $75 per person minimum for Thursday dinner at STK or Nobu. For $15, you can see a movie with friends.

For roughly $40 a month, enjoy television or engage and interact on the Web.

If consumers are cutting budgets and spending less, I wonder: Will it mean an increase in television viewership, movie ticket sales or use of the Internet?

Coutorture.com website

It’s always been chic among friends in Los Angeles to host small house dinners, football and other TV parties. Somebody always cooks and everybody brings something. Locals do it to avoid the hectic social scene in town but it’s also a good way to stay social on a budget.

Could this present an opportunity to Internet and media companies?

There have already been early signs of companies adjusting their mindset. Coutorture.com posted a round-up of its favorite “Feel Like Staying In?” this week. “Today” show style expert Bobbie Thomas gave tips on how to shop in your closet for those on restricted budgets.

Networks should consider promoting show-viewing parties and drive engagement on the Web. I bet it could generate attachment and viewership on shows across a wide range of demographics.

We’ll ultimately still need to find ways to entertain ourselves. Could this be an opportunity for broadcast, radio, print and Internet content providers to fill the gap?

I’d love to see it happen!

The Art of Attachment

October 7, 2008 1:56 PM

One of the reasons I wanted to create a broadcast television project like the one I’ve created was to challenge theories and thoughts of what drives attachment among audiences. I don’t mean just grabbing eyeballs on the street, because it can be easy to do that. I mean finding that idea that ignites the kind of passionate interest that moves and motivates people over the long haul, like what makes a Miley Cyrus or Oprah Winfrey fan.

We’ll look at something at least once, maybe even twice, regardless of what it is. But to become involved, to get and stay behind something – that is something different.

That’s attachment. As an entrepreneur, I want to explore creating projects from there.

While owning my first start-up, Stylediary, I was constantly inadvertently exposed to mass consumer conversations and activities on the Web: What people were talking about, what they were doing and buying, who or what was moving and motivating them.

After a while, there seemed to be consistency in the things people got fired up about – and what they didn’t.

I’ve worked to study this, and more importantly, capture it in the new projects I’m developing. What’s been interesting is that not only do these elements seem prevalent in what the public truly loves, it appears to take less effort to maintain it.

Only time will tell if we will get it right on my project. Meanwhile, what were some of the main things that seemed consistent?

Read More »

Web Show: Moving Right Along

October 1, 2008 11:01 AM

On Monday I told you I was starting to develop a Web TV project. I’ve been experimenting with producing ideas for several years now as a side effort, like the fashion news show (pictured) that I wrote for someone else a year or two ago.

Fashion News Weekly

My first Web TV idea was tied to my then-social media company, StyleDiary.net. It’s something I’m considering producing now (minus StyleDiary, which I sold last year), along with a few other ideas utilizing different show formats and concepts.

All play on what I think can succeed within the market and with the audience. What ends up being chosen will depend on what makes the most sense. I’m looking forward to the process of finding out what that is.

To prepare, I spent the past few months exploring and establishing Web TV industry and distribution relationships. This week has been all about taking things to the next step, talking with prospective partners, etc.

I mentioned having a goal to build the show with revenue baked in. It’ll be interesting to see if we can make it happen.

What I’m most excited about are some of the new distribution opportunities in the market.

What’s nice about Web TV is that the options are open. Starting a show doesn’t require the same (or as many) hoops that a broadcast project does. You can literally create just about anything at the moment.

If I owned a broadcast TV network, I’d launch or buy a little startup incubator/lab to experiment with Web show ideas. Maybe the production/development budget could come out of marketing until online ad revenue expands to offset costs.

Regardless, creating the project has already been very engaging. We’ll see how things progress this week.