Sam Toles, Senior Vice President of Digital and New Platform at MGM, is on a mission to extend the studios legacy into new digital properties. In this first part of an interview recorded at the DEW conference in LA in February, he talks about how a show-centric approach the key to success.
Chapter 1: MGM is re-inventing itself online (0:35)
Mr. Toles heads all of MGM’s efforts online. He says that MGM’s mantra historically has been “do big, do it right, do it with class.” He aims to do the same with MGM’s online services and efforts. He’s looking for new digital talent to help him take existing MGM properties and reimagine them online.
Chapter 2: MGM won big with Hulu (1:50)
Hulu is the first digital streaming platform to be awarded the best drama Emmy for Handmaid’s Tale. The show was produced by MGM’s scripted television group under the leadership of Steve Stark.
Chapter 3: MGM is going direct-to-consumer (2:25)
MGM has traditionally distributed shows through partners. However, Mr. Toles explains the company is beginning to step into direct-to-consumer services. The company purchased EPIX from the other partners in the project. It plans to add new shows and content to the channel and expand its digital presence with vMVPDs and others.
The company is also bringing to market new services which focus on smaller niches. The company’s first foray into the approach is with Stargate: Command. The DTC service includes the original movie, all the TV series, and a new exclusive series called Stargate: Origins. Mr. Toles says the online service is a place fans can come to watch the shows and talk about them with other like-minded people. And the discussion is a key difference between the old world and new. He says that digital is a conversation while traditional media is more of a monologue.
Stargate: Command is not using a standard subscription model. People pay a one-time fee for a defined period of access.
Chapter 4: MGM focuses on the fans and the shows (4:30)
Mr. Toles says people talk about shows, not channels. Re-orienting around show brands makes a lot of sense to MGM and viewers. MGM, he says, is the first studio to embrace this approach.