Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Another argument re: audience on Facebook w/Keith Perron & Craigy Ferg update

Topic UPDATE, Craig Ferguson Edition:

The same day that I posted the below missive about audience issues, CBS' late night talk show launched on the theme of "the 18 to 34 year old male demographic", introducing another aspect of how professionals do audience analyses: demographic break downs. To begin with, TV  networks have long known that one doesn't simply guess or theorize about what they think they know about an audience--the get the facts first and then, as in this particular demographic citation, establish a "target demographic".

Determination of not just the size but the type of audience has always been the business of the organizations that hire performers, not the performers themselves as they're not wont to hire the likes of Nielson with their own money to do that.  Performers are not in any position to do a good job of audience analysis themselves, and that's a given, no matter how a performer may protest to the contrary.  Organizations like Oklahoma Humanities Council don't do anything more complicated than taking a head-count of only those members of the audience who deign to sign their tally sheet, and they simply note increases or decreases in numbers without factoring in much else.  And then they cut funding when their tally sheets don't add up to enough.  Sure, that's not fair, but that's how it is, and funding depends on it regardless.  The closest to a demographic analysis the OHC ever gets is when the local emcee asks for a show of hands how many in the audience are from out of town, out of state.  It doesn't get better than that.

My blog audience comprised of shortwave radio people online would be wise to note that the main reason for a number of traditional shortwave broadcasters have closed down shortwave facilities altogether is because they say that the biggest audience is online, not tuning in shortwave anymore.  They're quite correct about that (and have the audience analysis numbers to back 'em up on that), but there are also consequences to abandoning shortwave radio for the Internet--the Internet is where websites get more lost in, and China for one recognizes that, as we can see from China's proliferation on shortwave, filling the spectrum vacuum left by others.  They also think that jamming is important, and that capability is being expanded as well.

Thus ends today's brutal reality check update.

It is a perpetual source of amazement to me at how public performers of a wide range of sorts persist in being misguided about their audience, and that's despite such professional audience analysts like Kim Andrew Elliott and Nielson.  One thing that these performers have in common are an overestimation of their influence over the same.  Keith in particular thinks that being super-classy is a way to hold an audience.

The discussion got kicked off when I Shared the video of the gal who quit her TV job by announcing her cannabis establishment and simply walked off the set while broadcasting live.  It's been making the rounds on social media for the past couple days, so most folks online have seen it...

There will be slight overlap in each of the following screenshots, to establish visual continuity, so please bear with me.  Keith Perron immediately took issue with the video and posted that as a comment on my posting--

Well, folks, that's the score as of this inning.  I just got a couple more Notifications that Keith is posting more arguments, so this is not the end of the matter.  More to come, apparently.

It seems to be a universal phenomenon that performers just don't have a grasp of the aspects of the audience that are most important, preferring to think that the world revolves around them in that regard, and then can't figure out why their audience and even number of fans wane over time, as they will invariably.  They just write 'em off as "fickle" and dismiss it without further thought.  That's the problem right there--failure to think, combined with the urge to blame people other than themselves for the phenomenon.

Performers, just do this simple math:

The more appealing to an audience you are, the bigger the audience you get at each subsequent performance. You get fans who will want to see every performance but that won't be every person in the audience.  Get huffy with your audience and it'll shrink, and you'll be so surprised when the people who cut your checks for you cut you too--you get paid to draw an audience.  If you piss off even your fans, you get a smaller audience with each appearance.  If you keep drawing fewer and fewer people, you're not worth what you're being paid, so don't act so damn surprised when you get the axe.

 UPDATE: Chuck Todd is reported to be doing worse than David Gregory in the ratings.
From Politicus USA
Jason Linkins made THIS prediction in August and it goes to the following point about CBS' expectations of Robin Williams with The Crazy Ones.

Alright, Sir Skeptic, let us by all means discuss the case of CBS' cancellation of The Crazy Ones and the early speculation of that being a factor in the suicide committed by Robin Williams, before news about his diagnosis was brought to light.

CBS was counting on Williams to draw an expected large audience for CBS, and it's likely that CBS' expectations were unrealistic.  Robin Williams' name alone is quite a draw in its own right because of the size of his fan base, let alone others in the audience.  CBS still puts faith in audience analytics such as Nielson provides, too, but there are other audience analyzers in business besides the time-venerated Nielson company precisely because the nature of the "competition for eyeballs" that the Internet has introduced, and the "watch later" factor introduced by Tivo, and multiple TV sets in multiple rooms.

From Williams' point of view, he was a personal failure to draw the audience that CBS expected, and the public expected that this was reason enough to get depressed enough for at least an attempted suicide.  That's not an unreasonable scenario.  What is an actual scenario: the rising performer thinks the crows is ALL about him/her and gets narcissistic to the point of pissing people off, causing a steady trend of diminishing audience numbers. Posterboys for this: Justin Bieber and George Michaels--among many many many others.

Keith here rose to media prominence by riding on the back of the former popularity of a long-defunct Radio Nederland program which he personally revived: The Happy Station.  The former host of the original program, Tom Meijer, had/has a long-standing fan base even though he's been off the air for decades.  Tom Meijer gave his blessings to Keith's efforts and so there was a presumption of fan base transfer.  Of course the two men are quite different even though the former attempts to mimic the latter, and no one expects any different; Tom, after all, took over the show upon the retirement of its previous very popular show host (Ed Startz) and had some huge shoes to fill for that fan base.  Tom, unlike Keith, succeeded very well indeed, and I submit that it was because of Tom's own attitude toward an existing, well-established audience. Keith, not so much.

Keith, not so much, and it's because his basic personality and attitude which rather clashes with the raison-d'etre of a show with the name of "The Happy Station" and with the motto of "Smiles Across The Miles".  He boils down to an antithesis of the premise under the proclamation that he's all about being classy.  Read "exclusive", and exclusionary he's become; he's one of those who subscribes to the unfounded notion that fans are fickle and if the audience doesn't like him, it's the audience's fault.

Robin Williams, on the other hand, had a very large and loyal fan base to the point where people who didn't know him personally still loved him, but that still wasn't good enough for CBS.  Great Expectations is why Gregory got fired from Meet the Press. Performers, keep that in mind when you think that the audiences you draw now is what makes you the center of your circles in the entertainment universe to treat as callously as you will.  You take your audience for granted when you do that, and they're actually granted to no one.  The audience makes the choice to see you and if you give them a reason to quit seeing you, it's YOUR fault, not theirs.

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