I was in Chicago recently and recalled that when I worked there, the waiting list to bring your child to see WGN’s “Bozo Show” was so long, some people gave moms-to-be tickets redeemable years later.
Chicago is kind of local-crazy, it’s true, but it dawned on me that unique engagement and, in a crude way, interactivity, was available for TV stations everywhere. In the early days of TV, TV stations used it. They actually believed the FCC cared about serving local communities, and sometimes, their management cared too.
So, in cities across the country, kids shows were immensely popular, or family movie shows with a homey hosts. In Cincinnati, one station, WLWT, aired several daytime variety shows and they gave a flavor to that city you couldn’t find elsewhere. Soupy Sales and Shari Lewis were household names in New York, and eventually everywhere else. That’s what happened to Phil Donahue, too, but he came out of Dayton, Ohio, from WLWD, that was owned with the one in Cincinnati.
Now, stations do news, or some 21st century parody of it. The community knows the anchorman and the weather woman and maybe the reporter they send out to the bad neighborhoods to do the live stand-up from in front of the yellow crime scene police tape.
If local stations really wanted to help themselves now, they could use their studios, their local branding and online video to resurrect local TV in a way that would probably be efficient and economical and now, truly interactive.
And they probably could do it with local talent that would do it for nothing, the way most YouTube talent starts (and ends).
Those people, obviously, could create their own YouTube channels, but local stations could so simply create the platform on their own site or YouTube. Unlike the old days, when stations had to hire talent, now the talent is ready to go and right in their audience.
For as much as we’ve all come to believe online video and YouTube in particular let all kinds of new, individual voices find audiences, few online video sources are really identified with a cities. I think it’s a great big opportunity for somebody. Is anybody doing something like that?
TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING: By now, it’s kind of established fact that nearly everybody in a household at any given moment is on some kind of device. New research from Parks Associates says 40% of 1,000 U.S. broadband households it studied have trouble with their wireless network, and more than half would be happy to to use a wired solution to fix that. The study, I should note, was sponsored by the Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA).
Parks research discovered that in the problem group, 87% have experienced slow connections or dead zones, and 63% still are. That equates to 15 million households. Put that on top of all the Web ads seen by nobody and it would seem, that’s a significant number of unreceptive (literally) customers.