Thursday, October 30, 2014

Tune In Tips From Ted Turner

Early in my media career, when cable networks were popping up like weeds and innovative tune-in strategies were needed, my clever boss, Ted Turner, mandated that all shows on TBS would start at five minutes after the hour, thus ensuring that such programming jewels as Gilligan's Island, Andy Griffith and colorized black and white movies, would stand out in TV Guide and the local newspaper programming listings.  (All the shows at 8:00P were listed together, but only the TBS shows
at 8:05)

Ted,  a media visionary, albeit often leveraging awful programming, was delivering what today a sponsored ad on Google, Facebook or Twitter might also do - help stand out in an ever-crowding media landscapes

Clever tune-in strategies and tactics are needed more than ever as TV and digital video audiences are carved into thinner and thinner slices.  Between Memorial Day and Labor Day this year, over 80 new cable and broadcast TV shows were launched.

Based on my daily reading of Cynopsis, something approaching 1,000 new web series launched from large media companies and consumer brands in the same period.  Add to this the millions of  User Generated YouTube videos uploaded every day.

There is clearly too much video supply.  I wouldn't put it in such apocalyptical terms as Michael Wolff did in a recent USA Today Column:
Here we are. Living in a time when nothing is so abundant as visual stimulation and narrative message. Media is no longer an appointment we make, but instead the totality of our lives — transforming us.
But into what? Who are we then? Are we advancing or sinking? We are only at the dawn of the age of immersive and total connectivity, of living in a world that is once-removed, created, produced, reflected, enhanced, packaged, filtered, shared.
Moving aside the social and psychological implications he raises - as only we media people can do - how does good content find and build an audience amidst such total abundance?

It is certainly much more difficult than it was in the early days of cable when cable networks had distribution monopolies to rely on, and the internet was still in its infancy.

The NY Times, in an article on Facebook, describes a new "world of fragments, filtered by code and delivered on demand."

Ultimately, it's just much harder than it ever was and getting harder by the day.  It requires a team that includes not only great storytellers, but nimble PR and social media execs, data and analytic geeks, and biz dev wolves who are on the prowl for the next new platform and distribution partnership.