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Jeffrey Katzenberg is making a big bet with OPM (other people’s money) in a reported video startup designed for mobile devices. He’s looking for $2B and he’ll probably get it. Driving the idea are 500M people who watch 45 minutes of video on their phones daily. This I don’t doubt. Nor do I doubt that people want more HBO-like quality to watch, rather than silly time-kill dreck.  But Mr. Katzenberg’s business idea is founded a 10 minute high quality video segment. This is where the rubber doesn’t meet the road.

People who sit down (not stand up) to watch Game of Thrones want to settle in to the experience, not watch it on the line waiting for a chalupa.  Any dramatic video consummated in 10 minutes (probably including 1 minute of ads) feels to me like foreplay interruptus.  There’s a reason short stories are a fraction of book sales.

Mr. Katzenberg may be on to something though. Ten minutes snippets of video are not a bad idea.  But the idea is not chunking up HBO or Sundance Channel programming. Perhaps he should be looking at news-related, educational or comedic interludes. Hey not a bad name!.

He’s a little off-piste but ideas have to start somewhere.



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Barry Diller selected the wrong guy. Ben Silverman, on whose watch NBC stoked the fires of its reputation with “America’s Biggest Loser,” “The Apprentice” and retread “Knight Rider,” has not been renewed and will embark on a new venture with Barry Diller. Moving into Mr. Silverman’s slot as head of programming at NBC is Jeff Gaspin, the cable executive responsible for USA Network and Bravo. Mr. Gaspin has been aiding and abetting some of the cooler new programs in my book.


This is a very good move. Mr. Silverman, a self-professed rock star, needed to be a TV programming star…and wasn’t.  NBC, like ABC and CBS, has been a real dog lately. Reality shows are so God-awful that people can’t tune away fast enough. I don’t subscribe to HBO but watched an episode of “Hung” on CastTV yesterday and there was more brilliance and drama in one 5 minute segment than on a full week’s worth of NBC (now that ER is off the air). The best people on TV – the most interesting people on TV – are, indeed, “characters.” They are welcome and they are real. That is what viewers want to watch today. Real, not reality shows. Not fabricated individuals with high Q scores. Mr. Gaspin sees this and will shake it up come January. Peace!


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Little Love

What’s the idea with Big Love?

You gotta love BBDO’s David Lubars trying to reinvent his agency with idea knick knacks that say “we get new media.” His new promotional and advertising efforts for HBO’s show “Big Love,” about a polygamist family in Utah, includes people walking around town with big thought bubbles (cartoon copy) displayed above their heads (coming to NY, Chicago, LA and Phil, Jan 14th) conveying personal secrets. Small audio billboards and sidewalk displays play Big Love characters’ secrets when you plug in your iPod headphones to the provided jacks. 

The “secrets” campaign repurposes the idea of the online property post secret, which has been a brilliant internet property for years. “Everyone has something to hide,” the campaign theme, is a nice experiential truism and one people can agree is probably a core value of the show. That said, not that many people know the cast of Big Love and, therefore, will care about their secrets.  The thought bubbles are fun but goofy and the media becomes the message, not vice versa.

Big Love is a good show. Everyone has something to hide is a good idea. The new media spin is a little forced.







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 At the PSFK Conference in NYC last week Mike Hudack of Blip.TV brought up the notion of “place-shifted” TV. Many people today “time-shift” TV, which means they use digital video recorders to alter when they watch favorite programs. But in place-shifted TV they alter the device they watch a program on and therefore the place. One of Mike’s favorite tech shows he watches on his iPhone, presumably when he has some downtime.  Big HBO productions, on the other hand, are reserved for his hi-def flat screen at home. That’s when he wants the best quality sight and sound.

Smart guy.
Talking head shows that don’t require high fidelity make sense for smaller, low-qual devices. Downtime is perfect time for a good TV show. TV isn’t going away. It’s still one of the greatest forms of entertainment. Those who create great programming and broadcast it will always find an audience. And place-shifting will help audiences find that programming.

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