The Volume is Going Down


Sound Wave

Is the American TV public about to get the enjoyment of Television back? There are now two bills one recently passed in the Senate and another one in the House of Representatives that provide guidelines for the FCC to regulate the volume transition between television content and the commercials that interrupt and pay for the programming. Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif is responsible for spearheading this legislation.

What does this mean? For the industry, the art of television programs might be maintained which is the main concern besides the show and awe aspect of when one experiences the load show with explosions and even loader commercials. In today’s television climate does it matter? Has the DVR and the internet eroded most commercial watching anyhow? Maybe not for everyone, but definitely for some. The combination of the DVR and netflix/iTunes/Hulu changes the way television is experienced. The industry is aware but the income methods have not kept pace with the core audience. With the new metric tools this could change.

Will the other pertinent issues plaguing American politics be stalled while while the congress agrees upon the details to send to the FCC?? Who knows, but progress takes time. This is an issue that has been a long time coming and technology has caught up with concept. The time to act is now and the congress knows this. Hopefully this issue can be put to rest in the next year so we can work on the other issues of the industry. Tracking peoples preferences, finding the next successes, and teaching networks to take the content risks cable channels are, to appeal to the audience most networks forgot about.

Filed under:Regulation, Television

TV and the Superbowl


I still, have not bought a TV capable of the fab DTV signals being broadcast.  I may buy a converter box to test the waters, but I have been happy with my computer hooked to the TV for the past 4 years.  The internet gods have a lot to offer in terms of content, and netflix is still good and the streaming works too. The one day delay of content will kill the blog reading timeliness for me. I can’t stop the RSS feeds. I will probably just go get a box, that is if the House of Representatives don’t vote for the second Senate delay bill.  BTW don’t vote for it Carolyn B. Maloney.  The economy does not need any more bad decisions. So this brings us to Superbowl time!  I like football, but playing it more than watching.  My favorite part of the Superbowl though is the media coverage surrounding the commercials, not the game, not the players, but the commercials. It has been this way for some time, but every year it gets more involved.  The types, the messages, and even the sponsors themselves.  There are the cleverly timed publicity attempts like the PETA vegetable sex toy one What makes a great news story, controversy! So be sure to watch the game, or the commercials, or both if you are in to that sort of thing.  I hope you have a HD-capable TV to watch the game on.  If not, 18 days left until analog goes dark.


Filed under:Knowledge, Television

Silverman Lining


There were reports this past week that NBC profits were up 17% partly due to Co-Chairman Ben Silverman.  He sold content based advertising (product placement) and developed some good new content.  The caveat is that viewership is still down.

I as well as others in the industry see this race to the bottom for viewership amongst the network broadcasters.  Because of this decline, there needs to be a value added to the content for advertisers and sponsors.  I read Beyond the Box by Sharon Ross last week.  She talks about tele-participation from fans.   Since 2004 and the show Lost the idea for the value added is extra content, vignettes, and other participatory elements on the internet.   I think this is great for some people, the comic book convention people, the big fans.

There are the others though, which this has not worked for, truists.  Truists are those who want the whole story to exist within the content itself, a start and an end.  I cannot say if the majority of the people are part of this category, that would require some more research, but I would assume so.  There is a point that the story told by television ends and the imagination begins.  Advertisers understand this imagination.  They are hoping by placing their wares with the content when you think about the story, you think about them.  They also hope to start embedding their product in your conscious.  Repetition works.  It is a fabulous thing.  To go back to the original point, how does that add value?

The large questions is how will consciousness of these in content advertisements be tracked?  There are two points of view here, the advertsers and the regulators.  In the advertisers’ corner, there are also the broadcasters and producers.  On the regulator’s side there are the viewers and advocates.  These sides can help each other.  Oddly enough on TV like on the internet people want to support the websites or programs (shows) that they enjoy.  Those who use Adblock for the Firefox browser will enable ads on the sites they like.  On TV, the shows that are DVRed (Digital Video Recorded), one will watch the show’s commercials, instead of skipping past them.  If the list of advertisers for a program was published likely online, it would be easier for the advertisers to get in touch with the customers and potential customers because customers will find them. Yes there is a risk for sneaky advertising, but those days are pretty much over.  Honesty is still the best policy, and if everyone is forthright, everyone will win.

Mr. Silverman, give your customers permission to connect with your clients.  Let everyone win, and the profits will rise along with your CPM.

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Filed under:Knowledge, Television

Youtube, the President (Elect’s) Platform…

This is not an industry comment, but a social one.  President Elect Obama posted and says his will continue to post his weekly address to the nation on YouTube, in addition to the traditional media.  I want to thank president elect Obama for his foresight and his understanding of “my generation.”   This is something that the lame-duck president in office has never understood.   Obama may relate to the internet generation because those who voted and supported overwhelmingly for him were part of it.  We may not all be young, but we definitely grew up with internet technology, email, IM, etc.   I don’t believe I have ever listened to or watch a weekly presidential address other than when it interrupted a regularly scheduled program, or there were highlights on Meet the Press or one of my other Sunday morning political programs.

Obama has embraced the new media and changed the game forever.  Not only will US citizens be watching this, but the world.  If Youtube is the platform, does that mean Google will also get a bail-out if it can’t find a way to make it profitable?   Will the FCC start regulating what can and can’t be said, watched, etc. on the Internet or will it stay self-regulated?  What will the television network do online?    When will the networks realize that they are not limited by their own content and start promoting other quality programing which is not just supplemental to what is available through traditional broadcasts?    Where are cutting room clips?   Where is the behind the curtain web show?

Networks, we want more of the same, but more creativity also.  It is hard to be creative in a slow economy, but just like for the start-ups, now is the time to make the time investment, which can have the new revenue streams ‘rushing’ once the money starts flowing again.

Update: AOL TW’s social network, Bebo will be featuring content other than their own in an area called Bebo originals.  At least one of the mega-media players are forward thinking.  Based on my cable service I would not have thought they were capable.  Maybe the dinasaurs will follow suit once they see the potential for profit.

Think of the internet right now like the minor leagues.  They still draw in the crowds, make money for the owners and it allows a way to develop the talent before they are needed in the majors.  I am not saying that the Internet is not a viable platform on its own, and it is, but just that it would be more effective with major media support and marketing.

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Study says DVR use varies…we say duh!

TVWeek reported on a study done by Magna Global on DVR use, which says that there is a correlation between based on genre.   In research, there is almost always a correlation discovered.  That is research speak for saying that there might be a significance, but it can’t be proven.  It is a way of saying that the time and money doing the research was not completely wasted.   Correlations can be the basis for future research and this one surely will be studied.

What I would like to know is which networks are paying for the DVR studies?  Where are the bittorent and new media studies?  Why does it seem that the networks are way behind the curve as opposed to out in front?   It is true that the networks need to show addition CPMs to the advertisers because of the dwindling numbers, but do they really expect to get those numbers significantly from DVRs?  Granted, the last show I watched live was CNN on Tuesday night to see Obama’s win, but before that I can’t remmber.  Though,  I am a graduate student after all and don’t have much time for live TV.  Maybe it is the same with my entire generation.  I hope not, but it may be true.  Maybe it should be studied.  Maybe it already has been.  I have my thesis topic already, maybe I can research this one professionally.  Any takers?

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Filed under:Question, Research

Shocker, The Ex List Canceled

Oh CBS! You surely disappoint.  Don’t attempt to erase your first casualty of the fall tv season, The Ex-List.  I mean really?  Haven’t your marketing people told you that the interwebs have long memories even if your traditional TV viewer people do not?   There is no sign of the show existing according to your  website.  The link is gone according to you: But wait! Do a search on your site and just like magic, broken links! Ex-list search They have had it rough after the creator and executive producer, Diane Ruggiero, quit mid September.   Now, with the first sign of rating dips they pull the show?

It is no wonder viewers flee traditional TV like it is their duty.  Yes, there is some great content, but it is hard to tune in to a new show and get invested in the characters if the network is going to pull the program shortly after.  Network executives need to start thinking about television more like a book or a movie.   It needs to have a beginning and an end, not some cliff hanger content that provides no conclusion.

I am aware oof the possibility of the show returning at some random time to fill space, but I think CBS needs to take a lesson from Lauren Zalaznick of Bravo!.   She takes the marketing playbook seriously. Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat.  It works.  If you send you message enough times, people will listen. So here my message again, content needs to have a begining and end.

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Filed under:Television

One TV, Two TVs, Three TVs, Four

sony kdl32m4000w

There are whispers this week of impending doom in the economy as the Dow drops further from the high achieved earlier in the year.  There is always a light at the end tunnel, and there surely will be one here.

As television viewers tune in for economic updates, the political race, and some good drama and escapist programming, there is something else on my mind. 
How am I going to watch TV on February 17, 2009?

I have not made the leap yet to a big flat screen TV. There was a great post in Gizmodo on how to shop for an HDTV which got me thinking and now every time I look at the 10-year old Sony trinitron 20″ CRT lots of concerns go through my head.

  1. Is the new TV going to match the apartment decor?
  2. Are there going to be any 30 – 40 inch sets that are white or silver made with good design?
  3. Can I see the white Sony television in person to see if it is really gray and a 3D drawing like it looks an their website?
  4. Where will the Tiffany vase be stored that sits on top of the TV now?
  5. Is the TV industry going to function like the computer industry where you will have to replace a $1000+ device every 2-4 years?
  6. What kind of antenna will work in my southern facing LES, walk-in-closet size apartment?
  7. Should I just give up and buy one of the converter boxes?  Is there a “good” one?

I may just give up and buy a big computer monitor and plug it into the custom tivo.  February is pretty far from now, but the Christmas shopping season just starting.  Any ideas?

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Filed under:Question, Television

Obama gets his own reality show…sort of

The big story in TV last week was about how the Obama campaign bought a half-hour of prime time television air time on both CBS and NBC for October 29th.  The question is will we be able to watch it online?

The campaign is smart to use television to reach viewers.  It still is a valid medium to reach many voters.   I know I will watch this political infomercial one way or another, but through what channels is yet to be determined.   Television ratings have bounced back this year after last year’s all-time low viewership.   Is it because of the economic uncertainty that people are electing to stay home and watch politics and dramady (drama + comedy)?  I think so, but what will it take for most people to give up the the corrals of time slot television for the open pastures of the internet?   Maybe the digital conversion of 2009.  Good times in a bad economy.  The Dollar is up versus the Euro this week.  It can only get better right?

Update: Link to the Obamericial

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Filed under:Television

Let me tell you about this great device…they call it television

Rosie O'Donell

Today in the New York Times, Brian Selter writes that NBC is planning a variety show staring Rosie O’Donnell, cleverly called Rosie’s Variety Show.  Fox is planning their own variety show with the Ozzy Osbourne family.  Surely this is a sign of the times when the networks resort to their successes from the days when the television industry was emerging from the decade of the picture box.

Television is being sponsored, variety shows are back, and soup is flying off the shelves of supermarkets with their stock prices going up,  while everyone one else goes down with the ship.  There is hope for the future, but the networks are looking to cut costs early the hedge their economic bets without another Survivor reality clone.  Its about time.  The cable networks like Bravo and Oxygen and … have taken the reality tv crown away from the networks for some time now.

I hope this bet pays off, but I hope even more that the economy can recover faster than you can say, “canceled.”

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Filed under:Television

Surprise! NBC says local advertising is down

Jeff Zucker, CEO of NBC Universal told Reuters that his networks are loosing local advertising due to the economy.  He says it is not on a national level yet.  This is a good thing, but it may only be the beginning.

NBCU, this past year made some moves to protect its interests and start investing for the future.  They launched Gemini Division an online program a little while back.  It seems more like an experiment than an actual plan of action.   The episodes are short, about 5 minutes, but then four of them are stitched together that makes it seem like a weekly TV episode, except for the production credits at the end of each short.   There is a lot of product placement, which is present throughout the story.  I think it is a fairly clever and successful way to make up the production budget, but there is a problem with this strategy.

The issue comes back to the advertising dollars.   As those monies dry up, NBCU will need some system to appease the affiliate stations around the country.   The internet only investments will be for nothing if NBCU plans many more internet only programs to hedge the economy downturn.   As the affiliates tire from their arrangement with the parent company, what will be their course of action?  WIll they have any at all?

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Filed under:Television