Posts about tv

Hey CBS News: Free the Stern tape

Here’s a suggestion to my friends at and 60 Minutes (you know who you are, Dick and Larry):

Take the outtakes from the very good 60 Minutes story on Howard Stern and put them online. Good on you for putting up the segment itself. But Howard’s huge audience wants more.

Howard talked this morning about asking 60 Minutes for the video to put it on his pay-per-view channel. Thanks to damned Cablevision, I don’t have that yet.

But if you took all that material — more of the Howard interview, his trip to Roosevelt, interviews with the staff, scenes from the studio and office — and put it all up in separate chunks with permalinks to each, you’d get incredible traffic. Howard said this morning that 60 Minutes on Sunday got 17.5 million viewers, up from 10ish million usually (please comment and correct those figures if they’re off). And you can bet that the age demographic took a pleasant dive that day.

So you can attract that large and young audience to if you’ll offer more of Howard. You’d also find yourself getting tons of links; you’d be in the conversation.

Now if you really wanted to be revolutionary and modern, you could take all those segments and put them up in downloadable form so people could remix their own segments on Howard. But I don’t want to push it too far. We’ll get there.

: MORE: Paul in the comments reminds us that for a higher cause and purpose, Jay Rosen also tried to push CBS to publish full interviews here.

Cheesy Broadcasting Corporation

We have three PBS stations in New York. Tonight, in pledge time, one of them has a diet show and two have cheesy violinist Andre Rieu. That is PBS’s dirty secret: They aren’t supported by high-class culture but by low-class cheese. Hey, whatever pays the bills. But why not just start the all-cheese-all-the-time channel to raise money for the real channel? Or why not just take ads? Are they really worse than Andre Rieu?

So bright

Brightcove, Jeremy Allaire’s new video-serving company, had lots of big news today: investments from AOL, Barry Diller’s IAC, Hearst, and Allen & Co. They also made a deal with AOL to distribute its video there. (Full disclosure: I think I’m on Brightcove’s board of advisors and I’ve introduced them to some companies.)

What I like about Brightcove — besides Allaire — is that they enable many models: ad-supported video, pay-per-view video, subscription video, and free video (that is, paid for by the producer). They make publishing and playing the video easy thanks to copious Flash (remember that Allaire sold his company to Macromedia and was there for sometime).

What will be interesting is seeing how this works with all the other means of video distribution that are popular: Bittorrent, of course; plus iTunes; plus TiVo to iPods and PCs…. There is no question that there is pentup demand for video among consumers and even more among advertisers, who’ve wanted to turn the internet into TV from day one. They want the motion and excitement of video. They also want the ease of buying TV upfront, but those days are over. Over.

Says Iconoculture‘s newsletter today:

Last month ABC and Apple started offering next-day downloads of major primetime programs. It started with Desperate Housewives and Lost for $1.99 per episode, and sparked a reaction (long in the works) from NBC/DirecTV and CBS/Comcast to offer similar content on demand for only $.99. Then, just this week, AOL/Time Warner decided to up the ante by opening up their back catalog of television content on AOL’s online network for free.

How did this on-demand flash happen? Wasn’t this level of à la carte TV consumer control and access supposed to be years off? No; not really. Consumers have already been building their own level of mix-and-match programming and TV personalization with services like BitTorrent and a flood of new independent and user-created content via the web. Learning from the music industry’s late 90’s struggles with Napster and its brethren, broadcasters and studios are offering their content before consumers get too far ahead of them.

From a TV ad and affiliate sales point of view, these developments are like reversing the rotation of the Earth, flipping the script in terms of traditional appointment viewing assumptions. What that means for the next several years is a continued shift toward far more targeted marketing campaigns and a dependence on consumers to invite ads rather than merely accept the ones pushed to them. To get those invitations, advocacy, trust, and customization are the price of entry.

My emphasis.

: Frank Barnako writes about this today and is nice enough to link to my exploding-tv posts. The newer ones are here; the older ones (from the old blog platform), starting in June last year, are here.

: Now Viacom is in talks with Google about video search and VOD. [via Thomas Hawk]

Vlog-it lives

Long-promised, Vlog-it — the lite version of Visual Communicator — is out and it costs only $49.95. Visual Communicator gives you a teleprompter on your PC and lets you drag-and-drop inserts of audio, video, graphics, and such onto your script so, as you record it, they are recorded, too, eliminating the need for post-production and editing. Unfortunately, it works only on Windows.

Web 2.0: Bright Cove

Jeremy Allaire just revealed his new video company, Bright Cove, also featured in today’s NY Times. I met Jeremy and saw the company many months ago and loved it then, for it enables the explosion of TV: People can use his Flash-based player and system to serve video under various business models: ad-supported, pay-to-view, pay-to-serve. He’ s making it easy and big. (Disclosure: I liked what I saw so much that I’m likely to join his advisory board.)

Poor woman’s West Wing

Boy, I’m unimpressed with Commander in Chief: speeches that make Bush sound profound, silly and anachronistic gender-role-reversal gags, cheesy plotting, cardboard characters. C-

The golden age of TV

We’ve been watching the real golden age of TV lately on HBO.

This week’s episode of Six Feet Under was a wonderful exploration of the pain that death not only causes but exposes in a family when we leave them behind.

In The Times, Virginia Heffernan tried too hard, as she does, to intellectualize her reaction to it. I’m not sure whether this is an attempt to raise up the lowly arts of TV and TV criticism or to give TV credit for being more than some think it is.

In choosing among these idioms of mourning, Lionel Trilling’s great series of lectures, “Sincerity and Authenticity,” published under that title in 1972, comes to mind. Sincerity – what Trilling calls “congruence between avowal and actual feeling”- once seemed (to the Romantic poets, x say) like an exalted state of existence that could be achieved only with conscientious attention to the heart.

And what dorm do you live in?

She goes on:

But the ideal of sincerity has long ago been devalued, rendered commercial or quaint. Today, for example, it is associated with Coldplay, mewling God-and-country Republicans and weepie cable-television dramas like “Six Feet Under” that appeal mostly to women and gay men.

Heffernan gives sincerity one star.

Oh, well, I liked it.

I also liked Entourage these last two weeks, especially in its skewering of the potential for egotistical corruption in citizens’ media, mocking an online movie blogger (a la Ain’t It Cool News) as a power-hungry star-f’er.

The MT Law Blog wonders why I’m not enraged. Enraged? Hell, no, I’m entertained.

I only wish that The Comeback was a tenth as good as these two have turned out to be. It is as cringeworthy as they are memorable.

Tag the greatest — but not obvious — TV shows

Do a friend a favor and list your favorite 10 TV shows ever — but not the dutiful ones, the ones you like for a reason — in the comments here or better yet, on your blog with the tag: 10shows (following Steve Rubel’s example of the 10blogs tag… just link to “” when you create your post).

I can’t stand the dutiful lists that include Milton Berle (rude, egotistical, and not terribly funny) and The Honeymooners (sorry, gang) and The Simpsons (never grokked it).

I will claim the right to change my faves — because, after all, such lists are as meaningless and meltable as Silly Putty. But to get the ball rolling:

: Cheers. When it went off the air, I argued that it was the perfect ensemble sitcom.
: Picket Fences. In its early days, it was an amazing show with imaginative writing, characters, and messages. In its later days — when it suffered from David Kelly’s chronic creative ADD — it got awful. But it had its moments.
: David Letterman. He set the comic tone of his era, like Johnny Carson before him and Jon Stewart after him.
: The Daily Show. OK, in a few years, or even now, this may be a dutiful choice. But it has changed news by poking a pin in journalistic ego and we needed that.
: Cosby. Yes, in the end, he became an insuferable sermonizer (and he sent me poison pen letters when I said that in People). But at the beginning, Cosby not only resurrected the sitcom and with it prime time but he also had a direct hand in the best decision I ever made, though one I resisted: having kids. He made having a family look like fun.
: This Old House. TV is so useless but how-to TV is useful and This Old House (along with Julia Child) created the genre and, brilliantly, added in the drama of the dorky homeowners. Was this the original reality TV show?
: The Sopranos. Who has pushed the form farther?
: The Wonder Years. Because it was the story of my youth (except for the beautiful brunette neighbor).
: Jeopardy. Who says TV is dumb?
: You convince me of the 10th. I have many nominees: Star Trek, China Beach, Roseanne, Garry Shandling, MTM, Hogan’s Heroes, Hill Street, M*A*S*H, but I fear they are too old (like me now) and so I want something more contemporary (and my Total TV reference work ends when I stopped being a TV critic, so I don’t have current grids to jog my memory).

I’ve shown you mine. Show me yours.

: Comments are coming in already. One added a very obscure favorite of mine: Good Neighbors. I had such a crush on Felicity Kendall.

: My friend Matt Drapkin asks how the hell I could leave off Seinfeld. Right, he is. I’d say that’s the missing show. My son would say it’s Friends but I’ll take Jerry.