Roma Khanna is the recipient of the first MIPCube Architect Of The Future Award. Khanna was appointed president, television group and digital at MGM in the summer of 2011. Previously she served as head of digital initiatives at NBCUniversal, and co-head of Chum Television in Canada.
Julian Newby: Congratulations on the Architect Of The Future Award. What does such an award mean to you?
Roma Khanna: I am very honoured to receive this award. Especially in light of the award’s focus on innovation and the future. On a personal front, I have always tried to work in roles that allowed me to cross between current and future media while focusing on growth. I like to build businesses and I like to do it in a way that can work in a changing media landscape. I believe that MGM is also focused on both innovation and growth. It is what attracted me to the company and the new management team. As a studio we want to build on a great legacy but remain a nimble and creative company. So on both the personal and professional front, receiving this award gives me hope that we are on the right path.
MIPCube is designed to ‘create new links within the TV industry’s community of game-changers’. Who are the industry’s key game-changers in your view?
> The exciting thing about TV today is that everyone has the opportunity to be a game changer. From big digital platforms such as YouTube, to studios such as MGM to the teenager in her mom’s basement, we can all reach our audiences in new and innovative ways and create a potential impact. The big change is that we need to look outside of our own immediate experience to connect with new ideas, new partners and new models. The next big thing could come from just about anywhere these days, so we have to remain open minded at all times.
It’s early days for you at MGM. But at this point what are your game-changing plans?
> MGM is at an exciting point in its history. We are in a strong financial position and have a new, energised leadership team that wants to deliver growth. That growth will come from creating new film and TV content and working closely with our partners around the world to reach audiences in a way that meets their evolving needs. All companies are looking at new ways to reach those audiences so the way forward will continue to evolve. And I am sure new players as well as traditional players will have an important role to play. Which means we are growing in the digital space. In today’s world we are all digital — so I think that is a distinction between players that will be less relevant with time.
How does one position – or re-position – an iconic brand like MGM in today’s crowded marketplace?
> I think the MGM brand speaks for itself. Our job is to deliver great content around the world – from new films such as Skyfall, The Hobbit, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Robocop, Carrie, 21 Jump Street, to new TV series and iconic library titles like Thomas Crown Affair, Rocky, Thelma And Louise, Annie Hall, Ronin, Silence of the Lambs, Legally Blonde, and many more from a list too long and rich to name. When that lion roars, audiences know that a great story is about to follow. I work with one of the greatest content brands in the world. And that makes my job a little easier.
What plans are there for new productions at MGM?
> We are building our TV production business and are excited about many new projects. We hope to add to the success of Teen Wolf with new series very soon. Stay tuned for some great announcements.
What does the evolving multi-screen multi-platform landscape offer content owners in terms of new business opportunities?
> Our new landscape gives us many new opportunities and advantages. From new ways of marketing to the creation of a socially networked dialogue around our content, we are engaging audiences with multiple touchpoints. And I think technology is finally at a point that we can deliver content experiences that are geared specifically for new platforms in a way that makes great business sense. We have so many iconic brands to work with over a broad range of genres; I am excited to look for ways to bring those brands to life in new and innovative ways. That might be games, social networks, video content delivered digitally, whatever. The options for new opportunities are endless.
There is — and will be at MIPCube — much talk about the second screen, and augmented content. What opportunities does this present to the industry?
> There is an opportunity to use these outlets to augment the viewing experience. We just need to be careful that we keep it connected to our storytelling and true to the audience experience. If we can do that, we’ll get closer to having our audiences’ full attention.
> This is the full version of the interview that appears in the MIPCube Preview magazine: out now! & read all the interviews with our future-shaping speakers here.