Yesterday I had a dentist appointment. Nothing serious, but just a cleaning (and for you fans keeping score at home - NO CAVITIES). When I got unto the chair, playing on the TV was this ad for the Tobi Steamer so I didn't pay much attention to it. After a few minutes I looked up again and saw more ads for the Tobi Steamer which got me a little upset. Come on I'm a captive audience here so I stopped my dental hygienist and said "Why do I keep seeing an ad for the Tobi Cleaner?" "Is Dr. Goodkin getting a $5 kickback from every Tobi Steamer that the patients buy? That's a little unfair because I'm a captive audience"
After she stopped laughing with me, she called Dr. Goodkin into my room even though it wasn't time for me. BTW - Dr Goodkin is one of the top 5 nicest people you'll ever meet and a GREAT dentist. If you are in the Long Valley area you should stop in. Here's their website. After I yelled (jokingly), he said "No, we aren't taking kickbacks but I know exactly what you are talking about. It seems that Channel 4 runs this infomercial everyday at 11AM." So after some more jokes we flipped on MSNBC.
So, I was thoroughly confused that this wasn't a one time event and that NBC-NY actually runs this infomercial more than a few times as Dr. Goodkin told me. What happened to some game shows or reality TV shows like some crappy judge or some talk show. Don't tell me that NBC actually figured out a new model for the 11AM slot. So I consulted the TV Guide and found such behemoths as Price is Right and The View in there but the rest of the channels looked pretty lame. Well maybe not as lame as a 30 minute commercial in the middle of the day.
Seriously, can't NBC figure out something else other than a commercial to run in that slot? I know it is probably making money for them, but WHAT's the point of having a TV station if all you do is show a commercial the whole time? I wonder at what point it costs NBC money to serve that ad for them?
Wouldn't they be better off putting a show in there, even if it is reruns and then use Google TV to fill their unsold inventory on commercials. Dr. Goodkin uses satellite so it might fall back to DirectTV for that, but you understand where I'm going. Seriously, how lame is daytime TV now? It is lamer than root canal. OUCH.
Now this is a new Google product I can get into. At first I thought it was a dog of a product like Google Print or a product like Google Audio that political campaigns couldn't use, but alas I was wrong when it comes to Google TV. I had a meeting in Crystal City and I came out of the meeting very impressed. Here's what I liked about it:
I walked away from that meeting very excited. This puts the power of TV, albeit on Dish Network only, into the hands of small advertisers. And, if you don't have any commercials, Google will give you a $2K credit to spend on building the ads if you agree to spend $2K per week for 4 weeks on Google TV.
If you have the money and don't get the attention you need from your media agency, you should give this a shot yourself. It is also great for testing content and ads on different shows before you go big nationally.
The only problems I can find with Google TV are that there is limited geo-targeting available today and it is just available on Dish. The geo-targeting is more problematic since it excludes local markets, but there might be a way to get around it by choosing a specific network (New England Sports Network), but that is a poor method for approximating geo-targeting. Other than that, I'm so pumped on Google TV that I might run my own ads!
BTW - I know I'm about a month behind on this, but I didn't think it was a big deal because of the problems we ran into with Google Audio. After the meeting last week, I'm a believer.
My beta invite finally came through for Hulu.com and I'm really into it. For the longest time, I really haven't been watching much prime time TV primarily because I didn't like sitting through bad shows, couldn't find the time to figure out what I should watch, and most of the time we watch shows that the entire family could watch. By the time the munchkins were a sleep, I was well on my way to a DVD for a movie or World of Warcraft. Now that is changing with Hulu.com. Here's why I really like Hulu.com
Right now, Hulu.com is not bombarded with ads - sure every 5 minutes or so there is a 15 second inserted into the show, but it didn't annoy me, just seeing the same advertiser over and over again (Intel) was annoying. The site isn't loaded with banner or search ads either so it is nice and clean.
Sure Hulu.com doesn't have the community that YouTube has and it certainly doesn't have user generated content. However, for me, I like watching professional clips more so than user generated ones and if I want consumer content I know where to go - YouTube. Hulu differentiates itself from all of the other video sites on the internet with what they all desire - professional, copyrighted material. I doubt Hulu will eat much into YouTube's viewership, but it sure will help hasten the migration of watching professional shows from the big tube to the little screen. Plus, I wonder how this impacts copyright lawsuits in progress. Anyway, nicely done Hulu.
Yes I'm in a foul mood. The Yankees are down 2-0 and in game 3 they are losing 3-1 as I write this. And not only isn't that bad enough I can never find TBS on my DirectTV lineup, I can't stand their announcers, and their commercials for a major series like this is just a step above house ads. Pretty much the only reason I ever watched TBS was back about 15 years ago when you didn't have 57+ channels with nothing on and you could enjoy an Atlanta Braves game back when they had Maddux, Smoltz, and Glavine pitching.
Speaking of house ads I am already fed up with those FrankTV ads. Are you? I actually think Frank Caliendo is funny and like other sports fan have enjoyed his impressions especially of John Madden. However, the frequency of these house ads are ridiculous. It is like the marketing geniuses at TBS forget to cap the frequency of these ads to something high and annoying like 10. Seriously, it feels like I see an ad for FrankTV after every other half inning. It is really annoying especially when you try and watch baseball live instead of via TiVo.
I don't know if the show is any good and it may be very funny, but I am so sick of these ads I will never watch this show. Couldn't care less and would just wish someone at TBS had a clue as to how to get a good frequency without pissing off a potential audience.
We've migrated to our shore home and of course the house we have doesn't have TiVo which is quite a rude awakening for my kids, especially my daughter. She has never watched any significant amount of TV without the use of TiVo which has been in my house for like 4 years.
Just the other day, she missed a part of a cartoon and asked my Mother to rewind it. My Mom said we can't which was met with boos and hisses from the kids. Wow, imagine if they had to get up to switch a channel or watch only about 5 stations. Anyway, speaking of rude awakenings, we've also had to endure TV commercials and these are my observations.
And those are all I remembered even though I was forced to watch commercials for the past week. Nothing else resonated or caused me to take any action. Without TiVo I was forced to endure hours of crap and all I have to show for it is AT&T wasting dollars promoting phones that are sub par to the iPhone, Maytag ads for someone that doesn't need their appliances right now, a food additive to help meatloaf taste better (I don't need it because my wife's double secret meatloaf recipe is yummy), and Transformers. That's it. It's too bad the Maytag repairman can't fix what ails the vast majority of TV advertisers - go od creatives that drive action.
(FYI - READERS COMING OVER FROM ALL THINGS DIGITAL SHOULD SCROLL DOWN TO THE PREVIOUS POST)
The FCC and Senator Jay Rockefeller (Democrat from West Virginia) have nothing better on their mind than to continue to try and figure out how to control what gets piped into your television set. I've wrote about this quite a few times including, The FCC Thinks Your Parenting Skills Suck and Really The FCC and Senator Jay Rockefeller Think Your Parenting Skills Suck. I just don't get why the Senate continues to try and waste their time with this cooked up scheme by the FCC's Kevin Martin.
What got me fired up on my train ride back from DC was when I read this article by Amy Schatz from the WSJ called Television Violence gains Focus in Congress. Amy wrote a good article, but what surprised me the most was that it was buried on page B4 in the bottom left almost like the Journal didn't think it was very important. What kills me the most about this crappy Kevin Martin idea is what they think should be censored or not. If this Rockefeller Censorship Bill would pass it would give new Censorship Czar Kevin Martin the ability to enforce rules on airing violent programming between 6 am and 10 PM when children could be watching. It would exempt sports, news, and documentaries.
That's the problem with bills like this. The Government should not be intervening and deciding what is violent or not. They should set guidelines and ratings that inform parents about what they can expect. When the Government decides that News and Sports are exempt it is their attempt to control what you should see. Let me repeat this. NEWS IS THE MOST VIOLENT SHOW ON TV BECAUSE IT IS REAL.
As the folks over at televisionwatch.org have written 92% of parents believe they should be the ones who control the TV not the Government. There is a ton of information on their site including polls and tools for parents. Get involved. Do something other than lay on the couch and let Rockefeller and Martin control your TV. How about something simple as write your Senator? You can find the list and contact information at the NRSC.org website.
Yes, I'm about 5 days behind making this post, but other things caught my attention and I do have one full time jobs and a couple of side things that keeps me busy (BTW - that's why I don't consider myself a full-time blogger). Anyway, the NYTimes had an article called MySpace Mini-Episodes, Courtesy of Honda and I went through the entire article and test drove the TJ Hooker episode and I think this is an absolutely wonderful idea. Here's the basic idea:
Seriously, it is brilliant. I can't really see it hurting DVD sales and to be blunt it may even help. How many of you are going to run out and buy the Facts of Life in DVD? (Did anyone else have a crush on Nancy McKeon besides myself while in school?) Plus it introduces these shows to a generation that will never see them because they've probably outlived their TV syndication usefulness .
I watched the TJ Hooker episode and you could definitely get a feel for the show and the plot. That is, bad guy on the loose, James T Kirk chases him but fails at first, Heather Locklear make it look easy being sexy, and then Kirk fights the villain and wins in the end rescuing his partner. It was enjoyable, fast watching, virtually commercial free, and looked great on the little screen.
The only concerns I might have is limiting it to MySpace only for now and how Honda will judge success. The sponsorship for now is 6 figures and as the article mentions, Honda is trying to sell the Honda Fit. Also found in the NY Times article is this "Lauren Mehl, associate media director at RPA in Santa Monica, Calif., said the agency would evaluate the subsequent sponsorship opportunities based on how the commercials perform their run on MySpace."
I wonder what Honda will deem success. It fits in with their positioning of their car, but other than boosting awareness and visits to the site, I think they'll have a hard time proving car sales are being generated from these ads, but maybe they have some other measurements.
This is clearly a homerun product and besides being available on the web, you can bet the format will find a home on your cell phone in the future as well as other online properties. Hopefully, more studios will follow the lead.
No, despite my rant from last night after getting screwed in the ending (yes I fall on that side of the debate), I did not drop HBO because of the Sopranos ending. I've been planning on dropping it for months now, but refused because of the Sopranos. Why?
Back in the day, you had to own HBO if you wanted to see any decent movies. Now? There are so many things that vie for your attention that you can pass on it. The movies are useless unless you need to see the same movie over and over again and none of the shows except the ones mentioned above grabbed my attention and that includes Deadwood and 6 Feet Under.
The Sopranos besides being compelling TV year after year, was HBO's one holdover from an era when it was must-pay-for-subscription TV. It was the link to its glory days as a channel and sadly broadband, NetFlix, DVD sales, World of Warcraft, and the multitudes of viewing options has reduced this once proud channel to a monthly service charge on your cable bill that reminds me of AT&T's Carrier Cost Recovery Fee.
Oh, one final thought to everyone that thinks this was so brilliant of a move by HBO and Chase regarding the surprise ending. Will it stop HBO disconnects or increase subscriptions? I doubt it because what does the show ending have to do with selling the HBO franchise. It may help with DVD sales but that's at least 6 months away (my guess) where the cache of the non-ending will have worn off. All of that buzz and traffic? It may help David Chase and immortalize (if it wasn't already) The Sopranos, but HBO? Other than DVD sales, it won't provide help. Heck, A&E which plays the reruns will get more out of it.
But that ending was terrible. Leave it up to the viewer to decide? Come on. That was lame. I paused the show about 53 minutes into it and said to my wife, nothing can happen because he doesn't have enough time. 10 or so minutes of a setup for nothing...what a waste.
I have a much more detailed thought to describe what this ending was like but I can't go into it because some day my kids will read this blog. However, let's just say it involves something ending WAY before you planned it to while in the bedroom...
Look David Chase, we didn't need you to leave it up to us to figure out our own ending. That's not what we pay you for (yes via HBO). We want to be entertained by a professional. Probably the only thing good about this is The Sopranos can now live forever in user generated content and video. BA DA BING.
Sure some people will say it is brilliant and say he got what he wanted, people talking about it. (BTW - you can read Sepinwall's column and at 12AM 17 out of the top 20 Hottest Trends on Google were for The Sopranos) And, they'll also tell you, that's what David Chase does. Perhaps now that Chase and Company have left it up to the viewer, it can spawn all sorts of endings from Sopranos fans. Good luck HBO you were a good thing, but now we're........(see PS Below)
BTW: I dropped HBO this morning via DirecTV. It was fast and painless and completely automated. I wonder how many other people dropped it today?
PS: More updates from the Sopranos message board over at NJO.com. Besides angry people like myself, there seems to be three schools of thought on the end scene:
Anyway, still upset with anything but #2 above. I don't go with #1 because there seems to be WAY TOO MANY enemies in the NJ restaurant to coordinate that hit and Tony made peace with NY. Sure Phil's relatives would be upset, but who are they working for? Finally, this from a post from NJFan26:
This morning I heard an interview with Frank Vincent, the guy who plays Phil. He said that the last scene was meant to symbolize that Tony would have to live the rest of his life being paranoid about who is walking in the door whether it is the FBI, a hit, or just anyone coming to take him away our take him out. That is his ultimate punishment. He can never relax without having to look over his shoulder.
Is David Chase brilliant and was the show over all these seasons brilliant? Yes and Yes. I still don't like the ending unless it was #2. Oh well.
Some more final thoughts for you folks that subscribe to #1. I replayed the ending on TiVo:
Yes, by now you know that The Sopranos is wrapping up this coming Sunday, but one of the unsung heroes associated with the show has been The Star Ledger's Alan Sepinwall Monday morning column called Sopranos Rewind. Well up until recently it was printed in the paper edition of the Ledger every Monday, but now if you need need your Sepinwall fix on Monday you had to go online to his column. More on that in a second, first let me sing Sepinwall's praises.
The wrap up was essential reading for any real fan of the show. He gave honest reviews that told it like it was, unlike other reviewers that shilled for the show. Sepinwall broke down the plot, filled in blanks on the show, unraveled some of the show's quirks (ex, when a character gets killed they almost always wear white shoes, except for Paulie who always wears white), pointed out where characters have been or the last time you saw them, and most importantly tied recent events with shows from years past. Truly a must read every Monday morning.
That was until a few weeks ago. It seems Sepinwall was missing the deadlines when he wrote his review forcing diehard readers like myself to go to the website to get the scoop from the previous day's show. And, like most news stories it is better online. Besides the excellent summary, you got great feedback from the fans in the comment section; not the message boards which are unfiltered and as typical message boards go, filled mostly with arguments and the occasional curse. Comments like this can be found at the end of Sepinwall's story which adds a tremendous amount to the fanbase:
You get the idea. This is a pure example of social marketing at its best with the Sopranos community adding to the discussion. However, The Star Ledger could have "forced" readers earlier to the website instead of waiting until close to the end of the show. I'm sure they were trying to balance out paper sales with online sales, only demonstrating that local newspapers still have a ways to go in figuring out how to monetize their online traffic. Its time for the Ledger to push more and more content to the web only - they might as well start now because once someone figures out how to put a newspaper in a large, but light handheld that's convenient to read in the Men's room, their paper sales will be toast.
My final words on the show (who can resist) which I've been saying since the second episode of this season. Tony Soprano rides off into the sunset. He doesn't die and doesn't turn to the feds to protection. The last scene will be Tony and his family sitting at Bobby's lake house somewhere in upstate NY looking at Canada.
Alan Sepinwall's column will be the second most missed part of the long running HBO show. Thanks Alan for making your NJ reader's Monday morning extra special by making the show last just a little longer for all of us.
Did anyone catch Real Time with Bill Maher the other day? I know it was a re-broadcast from March 16th but I'm not an avid fan of the show and was only desperate to put something on TV Friday night. The reason I don't watch regularly is that the show gets most of its laughs from ripping on Republicans and when he has a decent one, Bill seems neither funny nor intelligent. Anyway, I wasn't trying to go out of my way to rip the show in general, only Dan Rather and Martha Raddatz.
In his panel segment with those two and Jason Alexander (who was very funny), Bill asked the panel what they think of media today. Dan Rather says that the internet is a supplement for news and even called it added value which prompted Raddatz to chime in an say that journalists don't get to determine what is the most important story of the day. Here watch for yourself courtesy of YouTube (and as a side note, pay attention to the fact that a) you didn't pay to see this and b) you probably won't pay in the future to subscribe to HBO to see it and c) who gets the advertising opportunity in this case).
Wow, that really shocked me. Added value or a supplement? First, sitting in front of a TV all day waiting for some smart person to come and tell me the news is so old fashioned , slow, and one-sided. The days of only have three networks to choose from has long since passed and deciding how someone gets their news is also wrong headed. Why TV or print? It doesn't matter really. All that matters is that the content you receive is reliable and if you wanted it delivered via the web than that's what's important. Plus, if a community of people decide that article A is more newsworthy than article B, than that's what should be put up front.
News shouldn't be decided by a few experts centrally located somewhere who really only care about fame, fortune, and advertising revenue. Dan Rather does have a valid point when he says that to be informed on an issue that you should read a variety of sources. I just don't think the variety should be the format it is delivered by, but the source of the news and story. During the day I read multiple sources of the same story and different views of the same story especially when it comes to politics. I personally find that the truth is somewhere in the middle.
Hey Bill, newspaper readership is down because you get it faster elsewhere and you sometimes don't even pay for it. Plus, if you want to read the NY Times, but do it online you still can get the same news reporting. Finally, aren't you more well informed when you get to look at many different angles and have the community provide feedback on the story. One sided news is a thing of the past.
I saw this post entitled ZeFrank Nails it Again over at Jason Calacanis' blog and I thought to myself, why bother? Why should a successful video blogger have to move over to main stream media (MSM)? As Jason writes "Will someone give this guy a 30 minute slot on f-ing TV already." I also started thinking about Amanda Congdon and her departure from the popular video blog, Rocketboom (link purposely withheld because it is not the same without Amanda) and what her future might lead to. I'm sure a lot of people are pulling for her to land on MSM, but I keep thinking why? Why should popular video bloggers, podcasters, and the like want to end up on MSM?
I often test things out on my wife to see what she thinks. She is not glued to the internet like I am, but is very net and PC savvy. When I showed her the controversy over Amanda leaving she was unimpressed. When a cool video comes along or I show her a page with a tremendous amount of visitors she often says "how do these people have the time?" As a final test, I watch my parents and my in-laws stick like glue to the evening news and the Weather Channel. That's when I start to think, is the whole world so different? You know there are a ton of people that still turn to TV and newspapers for the main news source and often they are older.
I had a district manager at AT&T in Vance LaVelle's consumer calling card division who was often at odds with the rest of the organization. I'd often say that David W. was in a basketball court shooting hoops wondering why everyone isn't here instead of playing baseball. And, that's what I think about when people write, when is MSM media going to pick up a guy like Zefrank? You know what they won't and I don't think that is so clueless on their part. The people that love him and Amanda are online viewers and are the same people that get their news from the internet.
They should keep plugging away without the constraints of TV. Sure, they may be missing some dollars right now, but my gut tells me that in the long run they'll be better off. See with more broadband penetration and younger people that don't view the Evening News with Walter Cronkite as their only source, the mass population will join these already built internet celebrities. People will join the community rather than move it back to TV. I don't think they should want to move over to MSM, they instead should wait for the masses to join them.
P.S. No Jason I'm not trying to pick a fight nor am I being overly negative!!
Do you think that right before the last T-Rex died that he knew it was over or did it just become a pre-historic ostrich, sticking his head in the dirt that would soon become our oil? That's what I think when I read this article over at MediaPost called ABC Looks Beyond Upfront to DVR, Commercial Ratings Issues which includes an interview with ABC's President of Advertising Sales Mike Shaw.
Does anyone really believe this strategy of forcing people to watch ads? I guess Mike Shaw can't wait for Phillips to build a TV that is commercial proof. My guess is he would give it away to boost sales. Seriously, do you know anyone that doesn't ignore or fast forward through commercials unless they are being aired on the SuperBowl?
Too busy to read the article? How about these kernels of wisdom:
Look I'm getting sick just typing those quotes. It is a warped sense of strategy. Why not handcuff people to their couches and force them to watch lousy commercials so ABC can sell at a premium. Look, people avoid ads all of the time even without having to skip them. People read books, get something to drink, and even surf the internet.
Whether you are selling advertising space on TV, radio, or the internet it is all about content. If the content is better than you'll have an audience and if the ads are interesting people will pay attention. The fact is people have been ignoring ads for years, it is only now that marketers can measure how often they are being skipped, so that cats out of the bag.
Welcome to the digital enabled world of 2006. Perhaps someone should remind ABC that you need to adapt or you'll end up in someone's fuel tank.
In Monday's Wall Street Journal there was an article called Local TV Stations Struggle to Adapt as Web Grabs Viewers, Revenue which I found very interesting, if not for the very long title. Basically it talks about how buying a local TV station is not as cracked up as it used to be as the web has grabbed viewership, especially from the local news segment.
In the past, people got their news from their local TV station (6PM or 11PM) which is relatively cheap to produce while using the main programming to grab viewership. You remember that model right? Watch Law and Order and then stick around to check out the news and weather. How many of you can still name your favorite weather person or sports caster (Let's go to the video tape).
Well, according to the Journal that model may not be playing out so well anymore. I don't know about you, but I can't remember the last time I sat around waiting up to 11PM to get news. If I want news immediately, ummm, I go to the internet and see what is going on - that's especially true for sports and weather. Heck, weather.com turns me into the same weather bunny that appears at 11PM and if I want to watch TV then (ok - maybe the bunny reference is stretching the truth a bit :-)
What's a local news station supposed to do? You can't stream the video of the latest TV shows because all of the major networks are already doing that and running reruns online runs into the same problem. The best thing to do is go back to the future.
They should stick with what worked well in the past - proprietary local news. They can still produce the local news content, but instead of just relying on TV, stream it online and build your content out on your website. You can also start an online community with blogs, wikis, social, etc that only your local audience will really be interested in. Heck, you can even throw in a Meetup strategy. Then with traffic get your local businesses, like the local drugstore to advertise. Today, these advertisers don't have a viable, cost effective alternative for advertising online because they can't rely just on IP targeting to grab their local consumers. Basically, build on the local community, provide the content to keep them, and get the advertisers to join in the fun.
Yes it looks like a sad state for local TV stations who bought into an old model that may not work as well in the past. Instead of sitting around wondering where the traffic went to, try joining the conversation online. If you can't beat the movement, join it. Local TV stations might actually take the battle to the local newspapers.
You've probably already seen the announcement, but Disney plans to offer many TV shows for free on the web. Literally, this is the BIG news of the day, even making the front page of the Newark Star Ledger. There are a ton of articles out there including The Wall Street Journal's Disney's Web Move Shakes Up Decades-Old TV Model, Ad Age's ABC Readies Non-Skippable Online Video Commercials, and MediaPost's Disney Launches New Site. The Wall Street Journal also reported that Disney gained 26 cents, or nearly 1%, to $27.79 and wrote "the test marks the first time a broadcast network has made multiple prime-time shows available free online to consumers." Wow, this is pretty exciting, isn't it?
You can read the articles for yourself and draw your own conclusions, but let me point out a few interesting factoids found in the above:
In the same Wall Street Journal from today, there was another article called Sony, Samsung Bet Big on LCD-TV Demand that you probably missed, but thank goodness, yours truly found it for you. The article talks about how Samsung and Sony are betting that the market for big TV (more than 40 inches) will grow sharply. Big TVs, HDTV, etc are hot consumer electronics right?
Hmmm - let me throw a little cold water on the BIG Disney announcement. The TV shows and commercials will be retro-fitted for the web, but the Sonys of the world are building bigger and higher quality TV. Doesn't something have to give here? (TV reference - I'm in this contest and something has to give, right)
You know what I think? This is all about the last few feet to the TV box and until someone figures out how to get great quality internet broadcasts on those big fancy beautiful TVs, this will be confined to mobile viewers. Sure, if you are traveling or stuck in an airport or a long boring meeting, you can catch your show on your laptop.
Personally, I'm betting that until you can get that last few feet to the TV set issue solved, this is all about shrinkage. When I'm home, I have my BIG TV set with a DVR and when I'm traveling I have the small screen. Anything in between is just a waste of time for now. Enjoy the big announcement, at least someone is trying to move in the right direction.
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