Their Way Or The Highway
February 28, 2014
We've talked a lot in recent years about how radio, like other content producers, needs to put its wares out there in every form consumers want it, and how younger audiences are increasingly expecting to be able to access content where they want it, when they want it, how... um... oh, geez, we've run this into the ground, right? It's obvious.
Except that it isn't. I've lately seen some analysis that contends that making your content available in, say, online video clips or podcasts only means that those consumers won't listen to or watch your main means of monetization, namely your broadcast signal. I've heard the argument made that offering a podcast makes listening to a show unnecessary. I've seen criticism of NBC for continuing Jimmy Fallon's habit of creating bits that play well with YouTube viewers, saying that doing so ensures that those young folks won't watch the live broadcast, thus...
Well, what does that mean? It's true that if you can get a Jimmy Fallon bit online the next morning, you don't need to watch at night. And if you can hear a show on a podcast, you don't need to turn the radio on at 6 am and listen intently. The inclination of the critics is to say that this cannibalizes your audience and lead to financial disaster and ruin and dogs and cats living together -- mass hysteria. That's been the argument by the hardy few who held out against streaming broadcast signals, too. Gotta keep 'em listening to the moneymaker.
But the cannibalization is happening whether or not you offer the same stuff online as you do over the air. What the critics forget is this: Those younger, "entitled" listeners and viewers want their content on their own schedule and on whatever device they choose. If you say, well, our morning show is 6-10 am weekdays and that's all there is to it, and if you want it, you have to take it when we give it to you, they just won't listen, no matter HOW good it is. Try to restrict access to your content and they will either find a way around it (ask HBO with "Game of Thrones") or just ignore it. The exception is sports coverage, but there are no alternatives to that -- look, we love radio, but if people don't have the access to your funny morning show they want, no matter how good that show is, they'll find a funny show that DOES offer itself when they want it. (How many radio shows are left that people will wake up earlier than they need to, just to listen to every word?) There's no alternative for a Seahawks fan to hear or see a Seahawks game, but there are online alternatives to Dingo and The Baby or Crazy Ira and the Douche.
So, yeah, NBC is probably doing what it needs to do to reach younger viewers with the would-be viral videos from "The Tonight Show," just as Comedy Central counts on people watching "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" and "@midnight" in clips online after the fact, because you're reaching an audience that just isn't going to watch on your schedule. And radio would be making a mistake taking the advice to force people into listening to the broadcast signal on a live basis, because there are plenty of alternatives to broadcast radio content now to satisfy those listeners. In fact, it makes more sense to put more and more content, including what you produce for broadcast but also digital-only stuff, online, because that's becoming a different audience segment from the broadcast listeners. They're spoiled by the ease of access, the customization of their entertainment. I know, broadcast dollars are digital dimes, but your audience doesn't care about your sales and business plan, and they aren't going to play along. You can't force them to listen live anymore. Thinking you can is as old school as it gets.
Whatever delivery system you use, All Access News-Talk-Sports' Talk Topics, with hundreds of items and ideas for segments on your shows, plus kicker stories you won't see anywhere else, is an essential for prepping your show every day. It's all here. And the Talk Topics Twitter feed at @talktopics has every story individually linked to the appropriate item. Plus, this week, don't miss "10 Questions With..." the Flirty Flipper of Hannity fame herself, Jill Vitale, back at WABC/New York as Executive Producer of Curtis and Kuby.
And let me be the first to wish you a happy March and remind all of you dealing with intense cold and snow and ice and, here in L.A., heavy rain that March comes in like a lion and goes out like... well, this year, let's just assume that it'll be a slightly smaller lion. Lamb doesn't seem appropriate after this winter.