Wednesday, April 13, 2005

It's official. Broadcast networks are now crapping in their pants.

After years of publicly claiming that the DVR was just an updated version of programming one's VCR to record shows, it seems the broadcast networks are finally getting honest with the public and themselves. In fact, you get the sense that they're now sitting in their offices with their heads in their hands, slowly moaning, "We're screwed. We're totally screwed."

Of course, they're not totally screwed. They're big, they've got cash, they've got inertia. But they're really going to have to think themselves out of the mess they're in and when you examine any recent broadcast network primetime schedule, you realize that thinking may not really be their strong suit. What's more, the DVR is only one part of their problem. There's also things like filesharing and BitTorrent and gosh knows what else on the horizon. How many times does any network — broadcast or cable — executive have to be reminded that about 400,000 people saw Jon Stewart skewer Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala on CNN while more than 20 million people viewed it on the Internet?

Here's an example of how DVR changes viewing. We have a client who recently got one of the machines that has these network executives so worked up. Our client is a bit of a foodie. He had seen a show called Good Eats with Alton Brown a few times on The Food Network. He liked the show, but he never matched his life to the broadcast schedule. In other words, if he was plopped on the couch and it was on, he might watch it, but he wasn't about to adjust his life for it.

Enter the DVR. He set the machine to record the show. He watched it when he had time. He enjoyed it even more than he thought he would. He went to Alton Brown's web site. He read his blog. I think he bought a T-shirt. And yes, when he watches the show on his DVR, he skips past all the commercials.

The question, of course, is who will pay for Good Eats if advertisers decide it's a waste of their time? Will the advertising shift to Alton Brown's web site and blog? Will Alton Brown have to sell a billion T-shirts in order to make any serious dough?

Of course, some new, financially viable model will eventually emerge. There's just too much money to be made by satisfying the basic American need for entertainment. The cool thing is that the turds like Bob Wright, Michael Eisner and Bob Iger might have to watch from the sidelines.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Make that 20 million and one, Dean. I hadn't seen the "Crossfire" clip in its entirety. Thanks for the link. It was a great piece. Stewart is a hoot. And, finally, someone calls Tucker a dick. Priceless.

12:14 PM  
Blogger Black Lab Five said...

Glad to hear that I could help. I think Jon Stewart deserves some sort of Congressional medal for getting Crossfire and Carlson off the air. Although tonight, as I watch The Daily Show, I'm finding Stewart is laughing a bit too much at Dennis Miller's jokes. It's a touch sycophantic. Oh, well. We all make mistakes. Pre-Miller was great as usual.

8:26 PM  

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