McPherson: New Platforms Must Meet ABC Requirements

Jan 21, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Before ABC offers its content on new platforms, certain criteria must be met, Stephen McPherson, ABC entertainment president, said during his network’s executive session at the Television Critics Association press tour.

“First of all, it has to be a great consumer experience,” a standard the Apple iPod meets, Mr. McPherson said Saturday at the TCA Winter Press Tour in Pasadena, Calif. “We absolutely have to have digital protection. Third, it really has to complement our brand. We also look at how it complements the network. How does it become additive? And we look at it from a monetary standpoint.”

Like his counterparts at other networks, Mr. McPherson said new technologies must go back to “complementing the mother ship” — the network.

The heavily promoted midseason comedy “Emily’s Reasons Why Not,” which performed poorly in its first Monday 9 p.m. (ET) outing and was quickly pulled from the schedule, “never got on track,” Mr. McPherson said.

“We felt like, unfortunately, it was not going to get better, we needed to make a quick change, and we saw life in ‘The Bachelor,'” he said, noting that the network is pleased with the performance of the encore episode of the reality relationship series that’s currently replacing “Emily’s Reasons” at 9 p.m.

Scheduling “Grey’s Anatomy” for after the Super Bowl made sense for the network because ABC “believes it is going to be a huge part of our future,” Mr. McPherson said. “It is an asset that is only growing.”

Although he said he loves the show, he called it a “long shot” for ABC to take on Fox’s “Arrested Development.” “We would certainly have interest if there’s even a possibility,” Mr. McPherson said, adding, “I don’t see that happening.”

ABC might put its in-development telenovela project on Mondays, but Mr. McPherson said the concept is still in the exploratory phase. “We’re really interested to try and see how to translate that to a broadcast network like us,” he said, noting that the Spanish-language networks put on the telenovelas for as little as $35,000 an episode.

“That’s craft services on one of our shows,” he joked.

While “Desperate Housewives” may have started slow at the beginning of its second season, Mr. McPherson said the story lines have built momentum recently. “At the beginning of the year we answered so many questions from last season,” he said of the highly serialized “Housewives.” “We got away from the heart and soul of that show.”

In terms of the network’s 9/11 miniseries, Mr. McPherson said he hasn’t scheduled it yet because he has not seen a completed version. “It’s a very ambitious piece,” he said. “It’s a very special piece.”