TV explodes

TV explodes

: What’s fascinating about the Jon Stewart takedown of Crossfire is not just what he said but how his message got distributed.

Terry Heaton reports that there have been almost 400,000 downloads of the segment at iFilm (which is how I saw it) … in addition to countless (literally, countless) BitTorrent downloads. This was a flood of viral distribution that came from viral promotion.

Welcome to the future of TV!

In old TV, a moment like this came and if you missed it, you missed it. Tough luck. In new TV, you don’t need to worry about watching it live — live is so yesterday — because thousands of peers will be keeping an eye out for you to let you know what you should watch (we call that metadata now) and they’ll record it and distribute it.

The really stupid thing is that CNN didn’t do this themselves: Hey, we had a red-hot segment with tsunami star Jon Stewart strangling our guys with a bow tie; you should watch; here, please, look at this free download because it will promote our bow-tie boy and our brand and our show and give us a little of that Stewart hip heat. That’s what CNN should have done. Instead, they’ll charge you to deliver a videotape (what’s that?) the next day.

Listen to Martin Nisenholtz, head of NY Times Digital, at Web 2.0, saying that the best way to market a news brand may be to distribute its best stuff for free: a downright visionary view.

CNN should put up all its segments when they air because, after all, once they’ve aired, they’re just so much video fishwrap. Then it should allow viewers to download and distribute them. It should collect metadata — most downloaded, downlowed by whom, etc. — so you can get recommendations on what you want to watch. It should set up RSS feeds so you can subscribe to shows or segments or topics or the hottest segments: CNN goes podcasting! If CNN were bandwidth poor (which, of course, it’s not), it also could set this up on BitTorrent to save money. Hell every live TV and radio network should do that.

There’s no harm, there’s only the opportunity to have the audience promote and distribute your brand and content for you.

And, oh, yes, you can have ads, too. There’s revenue in them thar hills.

: Separately, a few commenters below have called out Stewart for continuing to hide behind his comedy-show status. I agree with them. Stewart is not providing fake news. He’s providing real news with an attitude. Just as he said to the boys at Crossfire: He’s part of the conversation now, too, and he doesn’t get a out just because we can hear his audience laughing.

: Updates: See John Dowdell on sync vs. async TV. See Doc. And Rafat .