Live Bait: Small TV Concepts Dream Of Big Profits

One theory has it that big event television programs always starts as small, modest ideas.

Lobster fisherman? Motorcycle builders? Pawn shops? Hoarders? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. History channel made big history with "Pawn Stars," recently pulling in a big 6.4 million viewers. But the show started off as a more modest affair. Now, "Stars" draws comparable viewer numbers to that group of kids gelling and yelling on the New Jersey shore.

So don't laugh when you hear there's a new show built around the drama of an family aquarium business or another about a company that has its customers wading into waters to grab a catch-fish -- by hand. Give TV development executives credit for sifting through every possible dust-collecting, edge-of-town seemingly boring-corner of American life.

Mostly it's cable networks trolling for ideas. Animal Planet will now offer "Tanked," a show about a family business that custom makes high-end aquariums; as well as "Hillbilly Handfishin'," which takes us into the wilds of Oklahoma waterways looking for catfish. (And no doubt, dinner? Animal Planet finally meets the Food Network. We knew it would come to this.)

The secret sauce to this light menu: Animal Planet offers up a blink-and-your-gone six-episode series for "Tanked" and seven episodes for "Hillbilly Handfishin."  What this means, business-wise, if it doesn't work, a show can land and depart before viewers and advertisers know what hit them. And perhaps complain about them.

There's another positive: It's not just good for business but sating everyone's increasing short-attention span. Maybe "Jersey Shore" started as a light afternoon repast.

No matter that TV business executives work with smaller budgets and thiner margins; they always dream of catching the big one. The journey means there's always drama to tell, experience to gain, and now, small fish to feed



1 comment about "Live Bait: Small TV Concepts Dream Of Big Profits".
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  1. Jonathan Mirow from BroadbandVideo, Inc., February 23, 2011 at 1:32 p.m.

    Yeah, it's called niche content. People on this thing called "the internet" have know about it for years - "broadcasters" are just starting to figure it out...

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