It’s Academy Award season, so we’re going to talk movies and entertainment with Jennifer Sargent, CEO of Hitfix.com.
Download the podcast from iTunes, or play it below:
Ah, the movie season. It’s been a good one, filled with blockbusters, dramas, and a controversy surrounding the producers of “The Hurt Locker.” I recorded a podcast on March 2 with entrepreneur Jennifer Sargent, and we discuss everything from the favorites for who will be thanking the academy, to how different industries approach piracy.
Describe your unique path from Electrical Engineering student to the CEO of a cool entertainment company.
Jennifer explains that she wanted a more social career than being stuck in a room as an EE looking at microprocessors, so her path led her to investment banking, focusing on the intersection of media and technology. She later went to Doubleclick to learn about monetizing online brands, but wanted to start her own company.
Like any good entrepreneur, she focused on how she could use her skill set to work on something she was passionate about. After Harvard Business School, she worked at the parent company of Variety, growing the traffic on entertainment sites, and loved the combination of entertainment and technology.
She founded Hitfix in December 2008 to bridge the gap between gossip sites (like TMZ) and trade publications (like Variety).
In a crowded entertainment area online, what does Hitfix do to distinguish itself?
1.Â Â Â Â Â Team of proven journalists that break news about TV, Music, and Movie coverage (insider scoop without the gossip)
2.Â Â Â Â Â Event forecast calendar technology (location-based tool that lets users discover new events, set reminders, download to calendars, and sync news with events)
Example:Â The Spiderman franchise reboot. First they break the news: Tobey Maguire is out, shakeup of the storyline. Then, the event: Release date is no longer September 2010, instead, 2012. The action: Set your calendar!
What is a typical day and challenges of a CEO charged with pushing the business forward?
Professional: Drive traffic, stay nimble, accelerate growth, integrate with social media and partner sites
Personal: Find the time to see all these shows and events
What is the best method for marketing a site like Hitfix?
A large percentage of traffic is referring sites, so breaking news leads to people coming to the site. Insider scoops on Facebook and Twitter help as well.
– Discuss “Lockergate” – Hurt Locker producer breaks Academy ethics rules
– How are the Oscars and Golden Globes like a political campaign?
– What was the reasoning behind the expansion to 10 nominated films?
– What is the role of social media in movie reviews, and what does that mean to advertising campaigns by movie studios?
How are studios getting in on the social media conversation early? Why it might not matter what people say.
Example: Snakes on a plane. Famous one-liner was added after reading buzz on the message boards.
Also: Huge numbers panned Avatar and hated Transformers 2, but they still went on to make millions.
How can studios operate like a hedge fund?
How have the outlets to reach potential viewers changed from print and TV to online, social media, and mobile?
They’re more measurable, more efficient, and they get a better read on ROI.
Has the thinking against piracy changed at all, or do the movie studios and music industry still believe that all piracy, all the time, is 100% evil?
What is your pick for Best Picture and Best Actress?
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