If Steve Jobs Ran A TV Network...

Steve Jobs seemed to know what consumers wanted -- even when they themselves didn't know. Is there someone out there who has the same pulse when it comes to TV shows?

Jobs wasn't perfect -- but he was pretty good. As the failure rate of TV shows seemingly getting worse, it begs the question: Are TV networks just programming safely, or are they really doing something different? You know Jobs would have done it differently.

Some say shows like AMC's "Breaking Bad" and HBO's "True Blood" and "The Sopranos" did just that. Others say creating good TV is really complicated -- you must consider casting, the right line producer, the proper network, a good time period, and perhaps marketing, including a good social media plan.

But this is where Steve Jobs actually excelled. He took everything that was available and somehow made it all work. Yes, he tinkered -- not exactly revolutionary when looking at specific activities -- but the overall product was different.



What if Steve Jobs ran a TV network? Sure, it might have had clean, white graphics -- with simple-to-comprehend marketing. Consumers would judge the cover of the book as well as the sentences and precepts of the stuff inside.

Branding a broadcast network with attitude?  Over a decade ago, ABC pushed out its tongue-in-cheek yellow "TV is Good" campaign, which had tremendous appeal. (Too bad the network didn't have the programming to back it up).

TV station executive and consultant Mel Taylor recently synthesized some theories about how Jobs as a TV executive might have worked: 1) Remove the bozos; 2) Simplify. Identify; 3) Dump the market research; 4) Break down the silos; 5) Impute; 6) Cannibalize your business; 7) Play by your own rules; 8) Share your practices; 9) Tell it like it is.

TV executives might say they incorporate some of this stuff. But they would also say networks don't sell one product, but many shows -- and that it is almost always complicated.

Could Jobs have created a buzz that would seem to bring a network to higher ground -- like walking into an Apple store for the first time? Yes, Jobs did have failures, including Apple TV ironically, as well as Newton way back when (but it was a precursor to the iPad).  The successes, however, vastly outweighed the failures.

Attitudes? Egos? Not having the best or most helpful management style? Oh, yeah. He would have fit right into a television network. Most importantly, he would have figured out exactly what TV advertisers needed.  For viewers, Jobs already had a strong sense of what they needed and wanted -- an easier way of getting all the shows they wanted.

TV executives with their own fiefdoms? With  Jobs in charge, unemployment in Hollywood would have increased. 

Perhaps Jobs would have made the world of television more tactile -- something you could touch, and not just with social media and the like -- in areas we have yet to realize. 

Of course that is always the fantasy for some: better TV in our Apple-like dreams.

2 comments about "If Steve Jobs Ran A TV Network... ".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC, November 22, 2011 at 5:04 p.m.

    I thin TVs challenges are all of the things you mention.

    But I doubt that Jobs would have cracked the code in TV. He was a product guy - who knew how to get physical products built that satisfied people in fresh new ways - and often with intuitive or instinctive appeal.

    But all of the arts (TV, visual art, fashion, etc...) live by different criteria --- there's tremendously more randomness in their success. You can't plan to touch people in the ways that art touches people. All you can do is make the art and hope that people respond to what you have to express.

    That makes network execs more like curators than product developers. Their challenge is to find stuff they think will have that magic and put it on their networks. That job takes a lot of ego and quite often that ego is misplaced or leads them astray.

    But fundamentally, I don't think Jobs created art. He created high functionality that was executed with quality artistic sentiments. And thats far different.

    Great post Wayne - and very thought provoking.

  2. Chuck Lantz from, network, November 23, 2011 at 4:20 a.m.

    Steve Jobs would have lasted two or three months as the head of any major network, if that.

    He'd either be sabotaged and back-stabbed out of his job by the middle and upper-management bottom-feeders who actually run the industry or forced out by brain-dead board members.

    Broadcast television is dead. It commited suicide long ago. The few remaining quality shows are all accidents.

Next story loading loading..