I’ve been involved in a couple of start-up stations over the years. One of the best things about a start-up is there is no inertia. No one says, “We’ve always done it this way.” The possibilites are great.
When we launched Texas Cable News some years ago someone decided one of the goals would be to “get viewers to watch for 40 minutes” and we would have it made. I never quite understood how we would achieve that goal with a format clock that repeated every 30 minutes, but then I never fully understood the quarter hour rating system either.
“Winter Storm Naming-gate” (see what I did there?) started by The Weather Channel this week has been interesting to watch. The mechanics of the issue are well covered in Nate’s excellent post from the other day. Yes, this is a marketing stunt. It is the same logic that keeps a “Breaking News” or “Developing Story” banner permanently affixed to the bottom of the screen on CNN. “Stay with us, or you might miss something!”
Actually, from a purely dispassionate position I think The Weather Channel did a great job. The video voiced by Al Roker artfully addresses all of the possible concerns and calmly (and perhaps a little condescendingly) explains to users why they should watch for 40 minutes…err, I mean…watch The Weather Channel, and why they made the decision they made.
In my mind the broader issue is something that sometimes happens when companies have peaked, and something that is at odds with the new era of media and information distribution. In trying to get viewers to watch TXCN for 40 minutes, or attempting to own a winter storm by giving it a name (outside of any scientific agreement) what these companies are doing is trying to get users to do what they want them to do, rather than asking what the users might like, or need, us to do for them. This is an important distinction in the new connected world.
We’ll be rolling this around on the next episode of WeatherBrains. I wonder what the episode will be named?