New Media Mogul
If anyone exemplifies the old business adage that the “first to market wins,” it’s Herb Scannell ’79. The former longtime president of Nickelodeon, Scannell transformed the station from a small niche channel for children to a cable powerhouse. Under his creative watch, delightfully clever shows such as SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora the Explorer became sensations.
Since March 2007, Scannell has pioneered another venture, Next New Networks, the leading independent producer of online television networks. Scannell is co-founder and currently serves as executive chairman—overseeing 16 online channels. One network, Barely Political, presents a satirical blend of short skits and music videos and spawned the memorable characters Obama Girl and the Mitt Romney Triplets during the last presidential election. To date, Next New Networks’ offerings have tallied more than 600 million views—a testament to having an appealing product and staying ahead of the curve.
“Similar to the rise of cable, we’re experiencing a transformation in media again, and the Internet is becoming people’s first choice for information and entertainment,” says Scannell. “My hope is that Next New Networks changes the media landscape for the future.”
Below, Scannell brings to life more of his thoughts and reflections:
What is the most satisfying moment in your professional life?
I’m proud of my time at Nickelodeon—helping it become the top-rated cable network.
In your personal life?
Getting married, having two kids, and watching the ball roll through Bill Buckner’s legs in ’86—I’m a big Mets fan.
What is your best BC memory?
Senior week, though it was a blur.
What is your next goal?
To continue to find innovations in digital media that upend traditional media.
What is one thing everyone should do while at BC?
Join an activity that you love. For me, that was managing the student radio station, WZBC. I’m proud that we helped usher in some new music from local artists and punk bands.
How have you changed since graduation?
My hair color is different (it’s a self-described “steely gray”), and I’m living in New York City.
Why did you decide to attend BC?
Both my father and brother went to BC, and I liked the campus.
What is the secret to success?
Doing something you love.
Where is your favorite spot on the Heights?
The Dust Bowl on a sunny day, but I spent a lot of time in the McElroy basement [the location of WZBC’s studio].
What would you do if you were BC president for a day?
I’d try to lower tuition.
What was your first job?
I was a scooper at Baskin-Robbins.
Where did you live freshman year?
How do you relax?
I play Scrabble.
What was your favorite BC class?
A course on Shakespeare taught by Professor Luongo.
What was your favorite BC activity?
What is something your friends don't know about you?
I farm oysters at the beach near my house.
How much can you sing of the BC fight song?
Like 90 percent of others, only “For Boston, For Boston.”
Who would play you in the film version of your life?
Who would I want to play me? George Clooney. Who would play me? Philip Seymour Hoffman.
What was the best meal at the BC dining hall?
Grilled cheese and tomato at the Eagles Nest.