Saturday, October 29, 2011

Is It Safe?


Szell: Is it safe?

Babe: Yes, it's safe, it's very safe, it's so safe you wouldn't believe it.

Szell: Is it safe?

Babe: No. It's not safe, it's... very dangerous, be careful.

There’s been a lot of talk over the last few weeks (driven mostly by the dismal Fall ratings at the CBC) about when might be the better (or best) time to release Canadian content.

Some believe these series should have debuted in late October or November to avoid the massive marketing campaigns that accompany the launch of new American series.

Others predict they’d do better if they were held until the dead of winter, when the thrill of the other new had worn off, or maybe in the Summer, or on the nights major networks program repeats, perhaps even in non-Prime-Time hours, or maybe…

Oh…Stop it! Just stop!

You’re all starting to sound like Dr. Christian Szell, the Nazi war criminal in William Goldman’s “The Marathon Man”, trying to figure out if he can safely retrieve his stolen cache of diamonds.

I’ll be publishing several posts next week with my take on why Canadian show numbers are so anaemic this season. But I wanted to make one point first.

No time slot on television is safe. They’re not supposed to be. That’s the whole point.

The entire system was built to support the needs of the advertisers and the audience. The audience wants to be inspired, entertained or shown something they’ve never seen before. The advertiser pays producers to do that in order to reach the largest possible audience.

No islands of safety were embedded to serve the mediocre, the less entertaining or those who just feel they deserve a shot.

It’s a system that does not guarantee that the “Best” shows succeed. But it is one that makes sure that the audience always has a choice.

Maybe that’s not “Fair” to those who struggle to make TV shows and maybe it goes against our Canadian penchant for treating everyone with equanimity. But that’s just the way it is.

And it’s only going to get LESS fair.

The wide open Summer season of repeats has been closing for a decade. Upstart cable channels kick off new series every month of the year, maybe every week.

Netflix now has more than one million Canadian subscribers and will DOUBLE the smorgasbord of content it offers before Spring.

Others (like the Google Megalith) are about to launch their own viewing alternatives that will further fragment the audience.

And then, late Friday, Youtube announced a massive increase in their streaming channels, literally offering something for everyone.

Just what kind of channels? Here’s a partial list:

Alchemy Networks
Alli Sports
Bedrocket Media Ventures, Official Comedy
Bedrocket Media Ventures and Full Picture Productions, Look TV
Bedrocket Media Ventures & Wasserman Media Group, Network A
BermanBraun, theLOGE
BermanBraun & Rodale Inc., Vigor
BermanBraun & Rodale Inc., Taste
Big Frame, BAM
Bleacher Report
Chopra Media/Generate, The Chopra Well
Clevver Media, ClevverStyle
Clevver Media, ClevverNews
Clevver Media, ClevverTeVe
The Comedy Shaq Network
Cooking Up a Story, Food Farmer Earth
DECA, KinCommunity
Demand Media, eHow Home
Demand Media, LIVESTRONG
Demand Media, eHow Pets & Animals
Digital Broadcasting Group (DBG), Spaces
East of Center Productions LLC, YOMYOMF
Electus, Pop Culture Channel
Electus NuevOn, Latin Channel
Electus, Food Channel
Emil Rensing International, Auto Channel
EQAL, u look haute!
Everyday Health TV
FAWN by Michelle Phan
Fine Brothers Productions, MyMusic
Frederator Networks, Channel Frederator’s Cartoon Hangover
FremantleMedia Channel, Pets & Animal
Hearst Magazines, Fashion & Beauty Channel
Hearst Magazines, Car and Driver Television
Iconic, Life and Times
IconicTV, 123UnoDosTres
IconicTV, myISH
IGN Entertainment / Shine Group, START
Intelligent Television
Jon M. Chu, Dance Channel
Katalyst, Thrash Lab
Knights of Good Productions, Geek & Sundry (with Felicia Day)
Lionsgate, Lionsgate Fitness Channel
Magical Elves and InStyle magazine, Little Black Dress
Maker Studios, The Maker Music Network
Maker Studios, The Moms’ View
Maker Studios, Tutele
Meredith Corporation and Meredith Video Studios, Digs
ModernMom Channel
Mondo Media, New Animators
monotransistor, werevertumorro
My Damn Channel: Live
New Nation Networks
Pharrell Williams, i am OTHER
Philip Defranco, Sourcefed
Pitchfork TV
PMC Entertainment News
Radical Media, Education Channel
Red Bull Media House North America
Roadside Entertainment/BAC, The NOC
SB Nation
Seedwell, American Hipster
Slate News Channel
Smart Girls at the Party
Smosh/Alloy Digital, Smosh Animation
Soccer United Marketing & Bedrocket, KickTV
SoulPancake Productions, SoulPancake
Source Interlink Media, Motor Trend
Steve Spangler Science, The Spangler Effect
TakePart™ TV
TED Conferences, TEDEducation
The Bowery Presents
The Nerdist Channel
The Onion, Onion Broadcasting Company
The Wall Street Journal
The Young Turks, Town Square
Thomson Reuters,
Tony Hawk’s production company, 900 Films, Inc., RIDE Channel
Uncommon Content Partners, The Conversation Channel
Uncommon Content Partners, Taste & Access
Varsity Pictures, Awesomeness
VICE, Noisey
Vlogbrothers, CrashCourse
Vlogbrothers, SciShow
Vuguru & POW! Entertainment, Stan Lee’s World of Heroes
Walter Latham’s “Kings of Comedy”
WWE Fan Nation
Young Hollywood, Young Hollywood Network

If you’ve purchased a HD television in the last year, it likely came with “Smart” technology, meaning it can pick up anything streaming over the Internet, be it Netflix, or Youtube, so you can watch it right on the big screen from your usual spot on the couch.

If your TV isn’t so smart, you can increase its IQ for $99 by purchasing one of these at any place that sells television sets.

Television producers never had any business making programming that was just designed to be filler or made in the hope it would find some oasis of safety, where it didn’t have to compete on its merits with whatever was programmed against it.

Now, there is absolutely no place to hide.

And that’s a good thing. A very good thing!

1 comment:

creeboy said...

Let me just pause for a moment to count the number of scripted Canadian programs I have seen advertised somewhere other than the network it is airing on... uhm... Oh yes! the answer is zero. Does that have anything to do with it?