Looks like we’re a month away from YouTube announcing as many as 30 new vertical channels, each one produced/programmed by a different entity. Lots of big-name producers and production companies connected to this effort, which YouTube and parent Google anticipate spending about $150 million on. The two TV questions to keep front of mind: Will this be the gateway to YouTube finally entering video-on-demand on the TV set, a capability available in more than 55 million households through cable and satellite? If not, will this be a prime promotional point for Google TV–especially if cable and satellite operators using Motorola Mobility set-tops lean affirmative–when version 2.0 gets deployed? Just asking.
After a month of the 2011-12 television season, a few thoughts:
- There’s no such thing as a megahit anymore on broadcast TV. Remember the days when a top 10 television program would draw 30 million or more viewers a week? The best result you now can hope for is around 15 million a week.
- Don’t be quick to declare a broadcast sitcom comeback, as some critics are doing. The only new com in the pack breaking through the top 20 is 2 Broke Girls on CBS. Free Agents and How To Be A Gentleman are gone, Suburgatory is doing modestly, Up All Night is borderline and Fox may have sabotaged New Girl’s promise for success by taking it off the air for three weeks. We’ve seen what can happen the last few years when rookie series on a fame track went into absentia for extended time–think Fast Forward, V and Pushing Daisies (thanks to forced absentia off the writers’ strike). No sight, no mind. Also, don’t get me started on Whitney.
- NBC could use a break–any break. Nothing is working for that network except Sunday Night Football. Major mistakes galore all over their lineup contributing to the low viewership, from two-hour programs like The Sing-Off, The Biggest Loser and Dateline that should be only an hour; The Sing-Off chosen to lead off Monday nights opposite Dancing With The Stars, and Community remaining on the air. Nevertheless, a few upcoming programs, such as the Rock Center newsmagazine and Smash, that can hasten a turnaround if produced and promoted solidly.
- Another great fall start for cable programming, including solid acclaim and viewership for Showtime’s Homeland and American Horror Story on FX. Sleepers worthy of more media attention: Jessie on Disney Channel; Lifetime’s Dance Moms; Restaurant Impossible and Sweet Genius from Food Network, and Reed Between The Lines on BET.
A pair of made-for-TV films tackling national issues, cancer and the spread of digital abuse, premiered last Monday night. Both–Five on Lifetime and Disconnected from MTV–flew shockingly under the radar screen of many TV critics and reporters. Why? On Five, you had a rare anthology film with a quintet of women directors, including musical superstar Alicia Keys making her directing debut. MTV also adopted the vignette approach to score points over dealing with or preventing digital abuse. That’s not enough to generate considerable coverage?
Want a model for how local news anchors should cover local news? Here in New York, we had that model in Vic Miles from the mid-1970s to late 1990s. For two decades on WCBS-TV, Miles presented and reported news in a direct, passionate and compassionate way, never overhyping and always on the lookout for people who made a positive difference in their lives and for others. No matter what, you always depended on Miles to be clear and straight with you. Miles passed away last week, leaving behind a family and two extended families: colleagues appreciating his work, and the rest of us fortunate to witness him in action for as long as we could.
Until the next time, stay well and stay tuned!