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Notes From NAB: OWN’s Digital Head Tells It Like it Was

Social media is important to programmers? Stop the presses!

ALSO READ: "FCC Chairman: Mobile Crisis Looms in U.S."

I hate to be cynical, but — no wait. I actually like to be cynical.

And I think that’s going to be a big problem for the likes of Rob Tercek, president of digital media at OWN, Oprah Winfrey’s coming-soon-to-cable network.

Tercek just wrapped an hourlong presentation at the National Association of Broadcasters on the painfully obvious: Social media is important.

To programmers. To marketers. To everyone.

As I sit here, a mob of 40- and 50-somethings is surrounding Tercek, congratulating him on a great speech (he’s the one in profile, below right).

Everybody under the age of 30 just flooded out the door, faces lit up with that iPhone glow (OK, fine, I’ll spot him those two over-earnest college students who stayed through the end).

Tercek made his share of points, the most interesting of which to me was that the future of television isn’t convergence with personal computers; it isn’t mobile; nor is it "TV everywhere."

Because those things have long since come to pass.

It’s that TV is the next frontier of social media, and that user-generated content is growing so fast that it’s about to swallow broadcast-quality programming whole. (I’ll believe it when it no longer takes 45 minutes to upload a two-minute clip to YouTube. But that day is nigh. Point to Tercek.)

"We have to follow our audience," he said, "down the (social media) rabbit hole."

It didn’t get much curiouser from there.

Everything else he told the 300 or so industry types on Tuesday rang painfully obvious: That programmers have to leverage social media to build audience loyalty. That they have to figure out a way to convert that into revenue. And that you have to stick with it to make it work. (That last point is especially delicious, since TheWrap just declared in a Monday story that Oprah is a below-average tweeter.)

Stop me if you’ve heard all this before.

But maybe that’s just me — and all those young folks who just streamed outta here — being cynical.

P.S.: You know what else is going to help the social media revolution? When the telecoms get their s— together. My signal in this place is a travesty.

Aaron Barlow writes about film, new media (especially blogging) and whatever else happens to pique his interest. Past owner/operator of a cafe, a store, and a gallery (among other activities), he began teaching at New York City College of Technology (CUNY) four years ago. His newest book is “Quentin Tarantino: Life at the Extremes.” Visit him online at www.aaronbarlow.com.