If u watch TV intently or with “high engagement” as marketing analytics salespeople will say to war budget levels brand marketers when signing them up, there are some discernible post text message UR_evicted, forensic crime investigationary, or mcwhatever hospital themes that are seeping out, largely in response to these cautionary recessionary times. Let me riff a few insights as I have to go to Melbourne today and see if I can connect trends to commercialism. Then I will tell you the future of Television and Twitter Living Happily Ever After!
As with person attempting to frame an argument, I better start with disclosing the source of my data. Checking my TV snatchlist, VLC Playerlists, Flickrstreams, and (Tweet hashtags eg #the7pmproject), examples of shows capitalising on recessionary drivers are : (Locally) #Masterchef #7pmProject #TalkingAboutYourGeneration #ThankGodYou’reHere #Idont_really_knowany_other_aussieshows + (Globally) #Hung (by HBO, Divorced Gym Teacher’s house burns down, attempts to become straight male escort) #NurseJackie (by Showtime, same channel as Dexter I believe with Sopranos Carmela AKA Edie Falco, hospital drama med-abuser with a Don Draper husband and kids at home, with a pharmaco-enabler boyfriend in hospital)
So my theory, with me quickly running out of time to get to Melbourne, hence expect a very condensed, almost collapsing to simplicity exposition’ere : There are lots of Fruity + Banana connotations to a Paul Keating derived “Recession” - It relates to TV execs trying to be The Player and develop new programming that successfully caters to the times, probably 1-2 years in advance from when the concept is first elevator pitched. So the current trend is lots of talk about an embrace of positivity in new programming... Cant really say I buy that, other than when it comes to death of negative based Gen-Y live in a house / play musical instruments type Reality Television - which now is trying to extricate itself (or milk the last dollars) from the text messaging rivers of gold.
Cut to 2009 in Australia, we have cooking shows like Masterchef and quiz shows like Talking about Your Generation - where enough has been written about how everyone is happy pay, all positive to mothers of 3, Gen Y’s get on with X’s and Baby Boomers, and other implausibly positive notions. So let’s suggest it isn’t all a No Reservations - Anthony Bourdain Kitchen Confidential type world. The Home Cook can beat the Celebrity Chef; Some networks like Ch_7 have tried to connect the growth of “positive programming” to drama, such as their “Packed to the Rafters” which they cited. (so i learn at the gym running on treadmill at 630pm with 8 LCD monitors to choose from) This I do disagree with.
While a show like Masterchef, with Australians going into Winter, will pickup as it hits the Zeitgeist, Hawt Hashtags and ClicksnMortar Water Coolers. But entertainment must always progress forward : One dimensional drama a guaranteed success because it’s positive I dont think so. But shows that were greenlit a few years ago such as Dirty Sexy Money, or even Desperate Housewives, possibly Sex and the City - wouldnt likely hit the Trending Topics hotspot, unless the talent/script etc was timeless and knockout.
HBO, not that the channel is available on Australian monopolist offering overpriced cable, which I also dont have, but a sample of their new shows as they try and find successors to heyday of The Wire, Sopranos, Six Feet Under etc. So we get shows like #Hung (divorced gym teacher money troubles), #EastboundAndDown (kenny powers ex baseball player burnout loser returns to where he grewup)
And it’s not just HBO - Fox’s #Glee (which premiered in Australia after Masterchef) is also about a financially challenged school teacher (who like in Hung married the head cheerleader only to find out down the track major compatibility issues esp around dollars - she wants him to have more for starters) Made by the NipTuck creator.. the #Glee pilot has been very popular around my way. and must say its another starting in September show which is looked forward to…
And then as Showtime try and find a new Dexter, they dont do the predictable and fund a PG tween twilight The Vampire Diaries (which interestingly is going2 show on the new Ch9 Gen Y free digital cable channel called GO!) - Instead they develop #NurseJackie - Now I’m as sick as hospital shows as the next bloke, and even an estrogen’d up femme is going2 have troubles watching the 2nd 18 team of Greys Anatomy. Boring grey indeed; Does any of the cast even want to be on that show… But on the other hand, they also dont want to parody #House.
What Edie Falco has done with NurseJackie to use an Idolism is “make it her own” - As has been mentioned, it’s closest to Don Draper being a nurse in anywhere from the 1980’s to present day : You never see them driving cars / talking or watching tv / using ipods.. it’s like a David Fincher infected vision of grey. And Jackie takes from the bad to give to the good, and clips her own ticket via her boyfriend enabled meds - but like Draper, increasingly finds it hard to keep living the compartmentalised life as it implodes interaction by interaction.
So now that I’m really running late I’m going to add one final point to my unfinished argument. The network television business is most likely a dog of a dead business. But if u look at the most downloaded torrents from the largest bittorrent search engine out there (well now that pirate bay has been neutered) - and TV shows are right up there as the most or equally most downloaded.
As well as being most popular torrentwise, the Australian twitter streams for #Masterchef (#2 trending topic for all of twitter globally Sunday night) + now replaced by #7pmProject -have been the most popular Australian Twitter Trending Topics this week.
Twitter-mobs around topics to jointly discuss in realtime after a days work is where it’s at and the fuson of discussable TV with 140 character iphone/laptop/sms/pc/etc cross platform compatibility is very synchronous if such a word exists. It’s so smart actually that no one Telco or Television or Internet executive could come up with it.
And luckily as Dave Winer would posit, No One Owns this Cross Media 2.0 Vision : Positive edutainment vertical (eg food) programming with group rich text.
What I would like, shock horror, back to my Recession Programming, Money Matters Driver - is more advertising in twitter. Now by advertising - I mean smart creative sponsors driven by smart agencies and/or individuals coming up with and executing LOL nonobtrusive engaging new formats and drive home messages, so clients start allocating $100k-$500K for twitter as part of new product launches and it becomes a standard part of the media schedule.
I dont’t think its a coincidence that close to 50% of the “Talent” on TV is now joining Twitter if they were too late. If they are also on radio and not on Twitter it’s almost too late. Fox Fm Matt + Jo are belatedly starting to post to Twitter and market their campaign on their prime time show because their competitors are so far ahead; Dave Hughes @dhughesy who is one channel across the FM band in the morning has broken well thru 50k followers. And he engages them, as a human being. And he twitters them before and almost during #7pm Project, which has approved 52 weeks at 5 days a week - not a tiny commitment by Channel 10.
Without Twitter, the7pmproject has no chance of success. (ironically their twitter exists but is fairly admin’y not as active as the individuals within it) I think Channel 10 know the importance of twitter. I hope they do. But either way, Ruby @RubyRose1 is also big with 20k+ followers (Aleisha her Melbourne replacement who got good tweet last nite is newish to twiter but what’s the bet she takes off online), Hughesy, Charlie (10% of huughesy following) etc are active and have strong followers, that as a basis will be a good start. I didnt watch the show till the file arrived this morning in off peak download quota (dont ask, its australian draconian isp rules) But last night’s #7pmProject live tweetstream was almost as good as the show. So 1+1 definitely equals 3.
Ironically, the weakest link on #7pmProject was is she meant 2b_Rove funny grrl or str8 newscaster Carrie Bickmore - She is also on Twitter, but still has no Updates; A bigger faux pas there is not on twitter, to join the community, but contribute nothing - yet use Twitter as yer lead story last night due to some breaking terrorism news.
So I reckon Hulu(less) Australian TV just became interesting again, thx in part2 twitter… but which TV network and exec will connect those recessionary dots…
Now I really better get to Melbourne and get feedback on whether products meet market needs or whether they are in the nice, but no cigar bucket. I’d prefer, as in HBO’s to not be in the Happiness Consultants space. Money is a good thing after all… so I’ve heard… I do remember it.. on a planet far, far away..