Monthly Archives: December 2010

Seth Godin (kind of) on network programming

I watched this TED talk (below), an archived talk from marketing guru Seth Godin. The main message of this one was advertising and marketing is no longer about the in-your-face stuff. It’s about being remarkable to the early adapters — the people who are actually seeking something to care about. The obsessed. The fanatics. The nerds.

Because eventually, those people will tell their friends and family about this really awesome pair of sneakers they came upon, and then those people will at least check them out and consider them, if not buy them.

Basically, I see the same ideas really working in television and films. Just as I wrote about earlier, marketers and programmers can’t expect everything to be universally appealing to everyone. Why do some networks go after the big ratings numbers as opposed to going after key fans who are incredibly engaged to the programming? I am completely aware of how advertising works, but doesn’t broad programming turn away people who would be true fans of a show if it skewered its humor or its action in a way to capture a truly captive audience? I understand that more eyes = more $$$, but when you have a truly engaged, albeit smaller, audience, aren’t they more receptive to the advertising and brand messaging crafted around it?

I am a true, true fan of the show Mad Men, and I don’t see them caving in to the pressures of its fans or of advertisers to be a certain way. Is there integrated advertising on that show? You bet. It’s a show about advertising. How could they not have integrated advertising. But I’m much more engaged watching that than, say, an episode of Two and a Half Men playing in the background of my living room while I tidy up around the house or clear out my inbox…

So basically, we’re talking about two of the most successful shows in the country, but their success is measured in two different ways: Two and a Half Men, while it has won an Emmy here and there, is basically your standard mass-appeal show of obvious jokes and sitcommy situations. But still, it beat all of the other shows in the ratings last night with a rerun! Mad Men is a show for true fans; no, they’re not slaughtering the ratings, but it garners high-end advertisers, awards, acclaim, and engaged fans who go out and buy merchandise like DVD box sets.  No one goes to work pining to talk with their coworkers about last night’s episode where Charlie did _______. Personally, I don’t want to go to work on Monday if I haven’t caught up on Mad Men, because I know someone will spoil what happened to Joan.

I think I know which camp I want to be in when the time comes…


Tiffany and the Peacock

Yesterday, I read the chapters on the establishment of the big networks: NBC, CBS, ABC, and then later FOX and the WB/UPN/CW. And then this morning I watched two episodes of the PBS doc series, Pioneers in Television — one on the early sitcoms and the other on the evolution of the late night talk show.

One of the more interesting things I garnered is how those networks’ early personas (specifically the big 4) are still somewhat evident today. NBC was seen as an early innovator, trying new formats (like the Steve Allen’s Tonight show), and it was the first to transition its radio stars over to television, bringing in an already-engaged audience. They also had an advantage in that NBC was owned by the very company to bring this new form of  technology into homes: RCA. The company sold televisions, and was able to have an edge on branding, marketing, and innovate technology like color TV. I can still see this effort of early adaptation (clearly not as highly innovative, but prominent nonetheless) with the network’s embrace of web access and use. NBC was one of the first to start adding exclusive content on their websites and was an early adapter  of Hulu, an innovative force in allowing networks to capitalize in the revenue it was losing by people illegally downloading or posting shows of theirs online. As far as programming, NBC has had some of the most influential, unique sitcoms of the past, as well as the last 2 decades ( as well as some obvious duds hahaha): Seinfeld, Friends, Cheers, The Office, 30 Rock, Law & Order, Saturday Night Live, The Cosby Show, A Different World, Mad About You, Wings, Frasier, Will & Grace, My Name is Earl, ER, Hill Street Blues, and Scrubs.

And as much as I like NBC programming, they are still balls in ratings.

CBS, on the other hand, is basically uncool to me. This is the network of grandmas everywhere. There are shows on CBS right now that I know are pretty funny — in fact we have a friend who works on one of the network’s most successful shows. But still, nothing to me makes me HAVE to tune in or record anything that’s on CBS. It just doesn’t feel right to me. In the early days, CBS got by on its broad programming, a staple that is very clearly still its mission as the most-watched network on television.

And then there’s ABC, which started off as NBC’s severed conjoined twin, and then FOX, the loud, brash one of the big four. Each has their merits, but for some reason, I have always been partial to the peacock.

Assignments for the Week of Dec. 27

Kwanzaa Day 1 by B I R D

Happy Kwanzaa! Thank goodness I get a week off from work…

American Film History: Read Chapters 4 (Griffith) and 5 (Mark Sennett and the Chaplin Shorts).

– Writing the Half-Hour Spec: Revise outline

– Social Media and Short Films: TED Talk: How to make a splash in social media | Evaluation of Wainy Days

– Television and Society: M*A*S*H | Read chapters 19 (The Largest Media Companies), 20: The Next Level Down, 18 (the rise of big media)

And, because I’m soooo excited to learn more about Chaplin, here’s his famous table ballet:

Week in Review

I’ve taken Media Law as an undergrad, and then again when I was considering getting an MA in journalism a few years ago and took a class online at the University of Missouri. I’ve also learned a lot about the legal dealings incorporated with launching a company, copyright, contracts, and all that good stuff through my UCLA class that I took last semester. So I am not really feeling like I need to learn it all on my own. So I’m just not gonna. In the interest of concentrating on what’s important, I’m dropping my Entertainment Law course.

I’ve basically done all of my reading/viewing assignments for the week, so that’s been good. I still have not had a lot of time to work on my Modern Family Outline, either, but I have the whole week off to hone it.

All in all, I’m still pumped on this whole project. I’ve received a bunch of great things from friends and family for Christmas that’ll help me with my learnin’: a couple of gift cards, and the DVDs, Directors: Life Behind the Camera and the PBS documentary, Pioneers of Television.

Ok, go be viral, then.

Personally, I find OK Go’s sound to be pretty, um, OK, but their genius is in their music videos. And rightfully so, since the music video might be a dying art. While music streaming on YouTube had been a highly controversial endeavor, the viewership is there for licensed music videos on sites like YouTube and Vevo. An interesting 360, when you consider many televisions or TV devices include apps that allow viewers to stream web video onto that big old TV you bought in 2005.

Adam Sadowsky, an engineer, and his team constructed the highly elaborate Rube Goldberg machine for the song “This Too Shall Pass;” the official version has garnered nearly 22,000,000 views. I recommend watching the how-to, and then the (much clearer) YouTube version below it, if it’s been a while since you slapped it up on Facebook.

Get a Clu

For my birthday, the hubster and I went to see Tron and eat wings. As far as Tron goes, I had a few problems with the movie itself but there were some amazing elements to it:

– The music. I really like Daft Punk ever since since my friend and former roommate Katie introduced me to them in college. The soundtrack is spot-on and just damn good. Daft Punk even makes an appearance, so that was fun.

– The costume design. Now, I’m not going to be really studying costume design here on SGFS until the summer, but I HAD to note the beauty in Tron’s costume design. I came across an interview with Tron’s costume designer. First of all, Michael Wilkinson and Christine Clark, the film’s costume designers, had a lot to look up to. The first film led to Oscar nods for costuming (and sound, which are both probably warranted this year, as well). Clark told the LA Times they used nothing organic, even for Jeff Bridge’s character who was all Mr. Zen-ish. Everything was made of some sort of synthetic fiber a la leisure suit.

I was insane about the shoes. All of them. And I’m not a necessarily a shoe freak. I mean I can admire a great pair of shoes, but I wear sneakers about 90% of the time. But the boots on Olivia Wilde mirror boots that I had a dream about in 2005, and can’t find them anywhere. But since Disney (the studio behind the original and he sequel) is looking to launch a fashion/accessory line based on the film, my dream may come somewhat true. The original dream included almost the exact same boots she’s wearing (shown above), but in brown suede, and without the fancy light-em-ups. If those go to market, I’m getting them, and no one is going to stop me.


Other than that, the story was a little too weak (eh, it’s a Disney movie), and predictable (again, it’s a Disney movie). Jeff Bridges-but-younger didn’t look too bad, except around the mouth, which looked a little sluggish and ghosty. That’s when you know he’s got a CGI face. The “climax” was more like a loud whimper, and the resolution could have happened like 15-20 minutes earlier than it should have.

Still, highly enjoyable, visually stunning, and incredibly fun.


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