Friday, September 4, 2009
Why Television Needs Heretics
In about an hour from now, I am going to be meeting with a group that recently purchased a television station.
They are not a network affiliate. And in some ways, that’s cool.
I am not sure that if I won the Lottery this week that I would take the dollars and invest in a television station.
Don’t get me wrong… folks today still enjoy watching programming.
Shoot, it could be on their television, their PC, their portable video player, their iPhone or even a panel on their dashboard.
It could be transmitted live or playing from some source of stored programming.
No joke… I actually spend many a primetime viewing hour cruising through YouTube and with an average of 55,000 new videos launched on the site launch just that day. Needless to say, the choice is rather diverse.
Yesterday, I had an interesting discussion with my cable provider.
When I had called about why the monthly fee was going up, the rep I was speaking to quickly told me that in about three months, they will be offering their customers the option to select any 10 or 20 stations of choice for a reduced monthly fee.
That’s cool. Will be interesting to see how this new form of packaging will affect how the ratings will be calculated and how the advertising will be sold.
And while I am really not sure if I will include any of the original three nets (ABC, NBC & CBS) in my selected set of stations of choice, the main focus of this week’s blog-logue actually evolves around these three nets.
I strongly encourage any one reading this to take a day off from the work routine and turn on the tube around 11am and watch the programming through the afternoon.
While the programming is certainly an anthropological window into a culture set… the advertising is even better yet.
Something tells me that there’s a large inventory of daytime television that the ad reps have to unload. There’s a whole set of the ads you will see that I would wager to bet were scripted and filmed by the station affiliate.
There’s another set of ads in which the ad director and/or the media rep purchased one of those cost-savings/extra value frequency schedules. That terminology is actually fancy wording for what’s really called ROS… or run of station.
The best commercials are the ones that are truly targeting the regular audience groups that actually watch the daytime programming.
There’s a set of ads promoting the lawyers. Their copy lines are rather similar. They also all showcase a picture of the lawyers in the spots. It’s odd, but nearly all of the lawyers are men.
There’s a set of ads promoting places where you can go and get cash for your car title. It’s interesting how so many of the people in the ads who cash in their car titles are really wearing nice clothes. Maybe it’s that belief that seems to float among advertising agencies that lots of people aspire to be better looking than they really are.
There’s a bunch of ads for old people things. Things like wheel chairs, hearing aids, reading glasses, diabetes monitors, inconsonance padding and emergency alert devices. Now I know that there are others using these that may not be old, but so many of the folks in the ads are old.
Yes…there are pharmaceutical ads too, but from what I saw, there just didn’t seem to be as many as you see during the 6pm news. Maybe the ad agency for those pharma’s has insight that most of those older folks watching the news at night are in the midst of taking there afternoon nap during daytime programming.
From my perspective of working with some of the cable nets, there’s always a desire among the programmers to work on prime time programming.
Yet… there is actually three times as much of a time block to fill with daytime programming as there is with prime time programming.
When you look at the ratings numbers, these daytime programs don’t generate the high double-digit ratings…but then again, very few shows in prime time generate double digit rating any more.
I did go into our mostly recently released Nielsen numbers along with our lifestyle groups and it looks like daytime network television is still popular with groups bearing the nicknames of “Country Music & Car Seats,” “Traditional Seniors,” “Main Street Patriots” and “Struggling Elders.”
Maybe the advertisers running the ads are actually right on target.
The interesting aspect is that I also flipped through the dial (how Boomer is that phrase?!) and watched some of the programming on ESPN2, HGTV, Travel Channel and Food Network.
First of all… the programming on the cable nets wasn’t all too different from the same programming that airs during prime time at night
Second…I didn’t see many…actually if any…of those same advertisers running the ads on the nets…on the cable stations.
(Break… now have to go to the meeting… but will pick back up afterwards with the blog-logue)
I was very enlightened from our meeting with the television station team with whom we met.
They have a vision in their mindset of who they ultimately want to be. I must say that it is progressive, but interesting.
The journey of getting there may not be easy.
There is no question that if they do some things that need to be done, some of their colleagues will label them as industry heretics.
I remember when I started in the business; there was a guy down in Atlanta who just started up a cable network that was the talk of the town.
Many thought he was a nut case.
Later in my career, I actually had the opportunity to work for this guy. One day in a meeting he started talking about doing something I though was a very crazy thing to do.
I learned quickly that he was right on target with his thinking when I thought about it later that afternoon.
The guy starting that network was Ted Turner.
The network was CNN.
Some still think he is a crazy man. And they may actually be right.
But it is that type of thinking that generated what the three core networks have become today and what launched the cable nets that make up my top 10.