Profile: Rick Mandler

Apr 23, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Title: Vice president and general manager of enhanced TV at the Walt Disney Internet Group.
Background: Before assuming his current position in March, Mr. Mandler was vice president of Walt Disney Internet Group’s Local and Broadcasting division, where he developed and managed the Internet efforts of the ABC broadcasting properties.
Enhanced-TV projects: “The big [recent] product for us is Oscar night. `Who Wants to Be a Millionaire’-that’s a big one for us. We just finished a run with `The View,’ and we’re preparing for Sunday [night football] and `Monday Night Football’ coming in August. … And that’s really the goal-to give people stuff that makes the TV experience richer rather than something that distracts them from the TV experience.”
ETV-friendly shows: “Game shows and sporting events are a natural. Awards shows are a natural. Your traditional sitcoms and dramas are harder. The challenge is creative. And from where I sit right now, I haven’t seen good creative concepts that will work for an entire run of a sitcom or drama. I see stunts that work for a particular show, but the key is the interactivity has got to be built into the show. And that means the producers have to be thinking about those kinds of elements as they are developing the show. Then there’s a chance for sitcoms and dramas to have more interactivity.”
ETV today: “What we do right now is in a lot of ways, baby steps toward true ETV-because it’s two-screen. But the reason to do it, apart from the fact that it is a profitable business, is that we’re learning a lot about what kind of interactions work, what shows lend themselves to being enhanced and being made interactive and what the audience likes and doesn’t like. So we feel like we’re gaining knowledge as programmers so that as we move toward the one-screen world we’re going to be able to take that knowledge with us and hit the ground running.”