In listening to Ben Silverman talk about “reinventing Hollywood” last week at Fortune Brainstorm: TECH, it was hard not to be impressed. The then co-chair of programming for NBC bared a strikingly similar disposition to Chris DeWolfe, circa Brainstorm: TECH 2008. In fact, Silverman has even called himself a “rock star television executive” in the past. However, it turns out Silverman and DeWolfe were also alike in having digital visions that didn’t mesh with their parent companies, and today that led to Ryan Seacrest breaking news via Twitter that Silverman was leaving NBC (how very 2009). More interestingly, he’s leaving to re-connect with Barry Diller at IAC (they worked together with Reveille).
As Richard Siklos chronicles over on the Fortune Brainstorm: TECH blog, Silverman and Diller were both in Pasadena last week for the conference, and although they appeared on different days, their messaging was already in-tune (Siklos maintains that they finalized the deal after Diller spoke on Friday).
On the “reineventing hollywood” panel Silverman spoke almost glowingly about NBC’s growing, interactive relationship with advertisers and treating them as campaign partners. Underneath Silverman’s watch NBC recently went as far as signing an NDA with Microsoft for Bing at the same time as Microsoft’s ad agency, in an effort to thoroughly plan how Jimmy Fallon could address / plug it. Silverman also was key in leveraging multiple channels with advertisers: selling campaign ads on TV and the Web which enabled companies to drive consumers both ways.
However, given what transpired less than 48 hours after his appearance, Silverman’s comments on technology may have been his most telling during Brainstorm: “Technology still isn’t changing the content but it will be interesting to see how it does in the future.”
What he meant by that is television shows are still using “phone-a-friend,” vastly limiting the interactive opportunities the Web presents. By rejoining Diller and CollegeHumor’s Ricky Van Veen on project Notion, Silverman will get to play with the future a lot sooner than expected. With Diller salivating over the future of hybrid, paid content on the Web, Silverman will get to try his hand at truly being creative with product placement that isn’t tethered to any channel or device and exists within highly interactive content (Think Final Tweet, but good).