At a bar in downtown Havana, Cuba on a recent weekend, on a lone and outdated television set, images of locally edited news updates flickered. There was a story about Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, several stories of local interest only, but virtually nothing of international note except for one story that dominated the hour. It was constantly repeated, capturing a full 25% of the total news hour. It was the story of Paris Hilton.
You've got to hand it to the peacock network - the "ostrich" network it is not. NBC has always been at the forefront of creative thought in addressing ad skipping and efficacy. Most recently, new NBC Entertainment Co-Chair Ben Silverman came out of the gate, handing some of the content's creative process -- and responsibility -- to advertisers.
Bearing in mind the number of references we've seen on the TV Board in recent months to DVD viewing of favorite TV series (often specifically to avoid ads) and how often I hear students talking of their preference for the same type of viewing (often driven by the need to accommodate a schedule that doesn't allow for regular TV viewing), it strikes me that the DVD is in many respects something of an undercover DVR -- what you want, when you want it, pause-able, reversible, fast-forward-friendly and decidedly ad-free.
I recently met the CEO of hip-hop video destination site SandboxTV, Manu Lawrence, a dreadlocked fellow who, in the course of conversation, used many interesting terms that I was not familiar with. "Co-opetition" was my favorite. I figured it was some form of radical slang. What would I know -- I'm a 55-year-old, Caucasian male. Instead, it turns out that the term was originally coined by a Harvard professor, Raymond Noorda, and later expanded upon in the 1996 book "Co-Opetition" by Adam Brandenburger and Barry Nalebuff. You've got to love a guy who can back up his terminology with sources, ...
I am a woman of a certain age who can actually remember the content that is being showcased on the Minisode Network which, in and of itself, is scary. Why? Because if you were to try and average the year of production for the content that is being showcased, it would likely fall somewhere in the early to mid-seventies. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but, well, how is this relevant to today's MySpace users? Has the age skewed that high already?
My commentary last week titled "Save Studio 60: Fans Need to Take Action," struck a responsive chord, generating more response than any previous Jack Myers Think Tank and more than any previous MediaPost TV Board blog. As much as I would like to see "Studio 60" renewed for another season, I'm more interested in sending a message to all the networks that there is an audience for intelligent drama that provides debate about the issues confronting the nation and the world.
The developments of the past 12 to 18 months regarding commercial ratings have certainly been fascinating to follow. With continued pressure from advertisers for increased accountability, it's encouraging to see the industry getting closer to more precise and relevant data. However, in the industry's mad dash to obtain average commercial ratings, I believe a crucial issue has been overlooked. Specifically, how compliant are members of Nielsen households in "punching out" on their People Meters when they leave the room during commercial breaks?
In just these few days I've had a number of conversations about the differences and similarities between American and British TV. The bottom line is that despite the oft-stated declarations of our unique national identities, in terms of TV at least, we really aren't all that different. So I wonder if Americans would be willing to pay for their own version of "quality" national programming, the way the British pay a "licence fee" for the BBC.
Most articles I read about the television business, if not all, prognosticate about the demise of the 30-second commercial: viewers hate commercials; given the opportunity/technology, all viewers would fast-forward through commercials; people use going to the bathroom and seeking out food during commercial breaks as a desperate excuse to legitimize their avoidance of TV commercials; commercials are too long; and generally, as reported by industry pundits, the creative sucks. OK. I've been listening to this looping litany since I began in the industry in the mid-'70s.
That was the quote from Bravo President Lauren Zalaznick about Bravo's 4-D model, where the network will literally surround the consumer with Bravo-branded virtual and experimental media -- ergo the "swirling mass of information." Huh.