At the intersection of Business, Law & Entertainment
Welcome to the new year! Oh, and since we’re less than 365 days away from a year of lame 20/20 references, I thought you and I should get the pun party started early while taking a look at where we’re at in The Jetsons Future. TV is currently in bigger trouble than radio, and everyone can learn from what they’re doing about it.
Y’see, the good folks at Turner have dropped some serious bank on a sponsored content piece and a related website explaining their vision for the future present. How spot on is their vision? I love this quote from their We Make Fans website: “Viewers tune out, fans tune in.” Let’s take a deeper dive with some specific thoughts from Turnerstan? Here are their quotes with my interpretations in italics:
It’s funny how timing works. I’ve spent a lot of time lately discussing the “it” factor in a few different places, and just yesterday, up popped Steve Reynolds’ excellent thoughts on the subject on the Jacobs Media blog. I want to talk to you about it (and “it”) because there are a few key lessons here: (1) if you have “it,” your boundaries are limitless, but (2) if you don’t do the things a great talent does to succeed, boundaries will start popping up incredibly fast, and (3) even if you don’t have “it,” if you do some other stuff really well, you can go very, very far as a performing talent in any part of showbiz.
Who better than the least fashionable human being you know to connect the dots between distrust of the media and clothing, specifically down vests?
Don’t think I can do it? And here I thought you trusted me.
Anyway, here’s where I prove you wrong, so read on…but in case you’re too lazy to do so, here’s the takeaway: Cynics are everywhere. Great ideas are not. Don’t let the cynics hold you back.
I want you to listen to the best audio commercial I’ve ever heard. Two big shocks: there’s a twist, and I’m using the spot to make a point.
The twist? The spot is two minutes long. The point? It’s exactly what you think it is, and yet, you’re probably not really doing it.
This isn’t a story about politics; it’s a story about advertising. In particular, it’s about how you get your message out in 2018.
Something’s clearly fishy in Messagingland, and if a political candidate with a massive war chest, tons of structural advantages, and a clearly definable target audience couldn’t cut through the marketplace clutter enough to avoid a curbstomping, it’s probably time for you to take a long look at your messaging efforts.
Cliché alert: radio’s been…please, stop me before I use the d-word…disrupted. (And if you think I’m now filled with self-loathing for using the word-that-should-have-jumped-the-shark-five-years-ago, you’re probably right.) That said, I’d like to propose an extremely radical, but necessary, notion: terrestrial radio needs to completely rethink the idea of “competition.” (And yes, the same goes for the rest of the entertainment-industrial complex.)
For us radio folk, that notion is anathema to our very being. After all, you don’t get into the radio content biz unless you love intense competition. We’ve all got stories about “radio wars” we love to relive.
A couple of my war stories are after the jump, but here’s your spoiler alert: The radio station you used to consider your “direct competitor” is now your best ally.
A quote from the founder of the Local Online Advertising Conference set me off, and here it is: “[R]adio’s competitors are more interested in podcasting and smart speakers than the radio industry itself. That’s because those in the print and TV industries view the digital space quite differently than radio. Theirs is a ‘multiplatform’ strategy, meaning they’ll seize upon any new platform as a distribution method for their content. This extends to things like OTT video programming. How many radio stations do you know have an OTT program or even know what it is?”
Let’s talk about what OTT should mean for radio.
If you’re turning a profit with the content you produce, you’re sharing a ton of that profit with the distribution channels – y’know, the broadcast and cable networks – who are airing your content. Said differently: if you’re the NFL, and you can distribute all your content – including the actual games – to consumers directly, why would you share any of the revenue earned by that content with ESPN, a broadcast network, or anyone else? (And if you’re a popular syndicated radio host, you’re sharing a ton of your revenue with local radio in exchange for access to their distribution channels, which you call transmitters.)
Incredibly sad. That’s what a good goodbye should feel like. Seriously.
And you already know that I think there’s an important lesson in this reality.
Forgive me, but I’m about to get very personal with you. And, as with almost everything else, I’m going to use my personal feelings to talk about something I love: showbiz.
A family member was placed in hospice care a few weeks ago. I’m not talking about a human being, of course. I’m talking about a radio station, or said more appropriately in these parts, an entertainment brand. I’ve been thinking a lot about – well, everything – lately, and I’ve come to two sets of observations, both of them painfully obvious and yet not, all of which can be summed up by this reality:
One of the more remarkable things I’ve read lately is a piece that showed up in the New York Times last week in which Dean Baquet, the Times’ Executive Editor, answers questions from readers about changes to the way The Gray Lady is restructuring her editorial department, eliminating the copy desk and shedding some editors in the process.
There are two really important takeaways from the piece. The first is something I’ve been telling you about for years. The second will surprise you, but it shouldn’t.