News, Notes & Commentary on the world of HRTS

HRTS Member Profile: Albert Cheng

by Taylor Hotvet

AlbertCheng-headshot1Albert Cheng is Chief Operating Officer of Amazon Studios. I recently had a chance to interview Albert to discuss what’s new in the digital world, favorite movies, and how to spot game-changing opportunities.

What was your first job in the industry? 

-Jeff Shell gave me my first job in the industry as Director of Business Development, Fox/Liberty Networks (now known as Fox Cable Networks)

What led you to HRTS?

-in the past, I became a mentor and mentored a number of talented individuals in JHRTS. Now, Amazon Studios is a member of HRTS.

What is your favorite memory from your career thus far? 

-having Steve Jobs sit down to meet my product and engineering team that put ABC shows on the iPad and to compliment them on a job well done – it was an incredible achievement for them, taking 5 weeks to build the app on top of our own video platform with no pre-market iPads to work with.

RECODE described you as “the guy who helped bring the networks’ TV shows to the internet”, referring to your work at ABC that led the way for modern viewing habits through streaming and digital platforms. That takes incredible foresight! Where do you see TV & movies expanding to next?

-over the internet, networks like Amazon Prime Video are global brands where consumers can get their TV and movies streamed anytime and anywhere!

What is one aspect of storytelling that has yet to be figured out? 

-I’m interested to see how a generation that has grown-up on YouTube starts to view or think about long form programming – will the narrative formats and storytelling devices that we currently know need to be different or will they stay the same?

From your experience working at both, what advantages does a platform like Amazon have over a traditional studio?

-we have the ability to connect our viewers with content creators in a more direct way. We can have a closer relationship with our viewers and engage them in different ways. We’re just getting started.

A trend within the industry seems to be to get consumers to interact and/or experience a single piece of content, with possible variations and/or extensions to the same story, across multiple platforms. What sort of predictions about the future landscape of the industry do you draw from this?

-digital platforms open up many more possibilities to engage fans across many mediums – the key is making sure that it’s organic and a natural extension to what viewers are looking for and where they typically find it. It has to be authentic and it has to be worth their time.

Do you have any tricks for spotting untapped opportunities that you can share? 

-always ask what can be done easier, better, or cheaper. Always assume that the rules of your world don’t apply to the next generation and the generation thereafter. I still see Boomers and some Gen Xers believe that Millennials will adopt their same habits and points of view – they won’t…ever… Very soon, they will be the dominant media viewer.

What are the 3 most important skills one should have to succeed in this rapidly changing industry? 

-read, learn and experience the new.

Lastly, what have been your favorite movies and or TV shows from the last two years? 

-the latest movie is Logan and latest TV show for me is one of our own originals, Patriot.

Taylor Hotvet is a coordinator in theatrical brand marketing at Universal Pictures and an HRTS volunteer, contributor and JHRTS member. She likes 1940s movies, 1960s music, and 2010s coffee.

She can be reached at Taylor.Hotvet@nbcuni.com

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