After reading both Chris’ post on a TechTV revival in addition to that of Leo Laporte’s, I figured that I had better toss my two cents in. Most important, however, I want to explore both the hurdles and solutions that would allow a TechTV-like revival to actually happen. Yes, I know that Leo is talking about a reunion show, but I am getting a different vibe from Chris. Much like a desire to bring the folks back for good? OK, but how could this happen? Also, would they be serious about making it happen for real? Even if there was a lot of leg work to be done?
At this moment, I would say cost is the number one challenge facing the TechTV Alumni. Now that Paul Allen is no longer footing the bill, finding a company to bankroll such an operation is going to be seriously difficult.
I concur with Chris regarding the content needing to be entertaining and offer the viewer informed, talented hosts. And to make things even more difficult, try filling up a primetime lineup with decent, ongoing content. Without an amazing number of reruns, it’s challenging at best.
Now that I have nailed down two of the biggest challenges, let’s explore some realistic solutions…
Believing that there will ever be another dedicated network exclusive to technology may be possible is a mistake. Yes, it is surely doable as perhaps Microsoft or Google could pick up the bill. But what about the quality of the content? Isn’t it possible that we might end up with yet another G4? I believe so.
What makes more sense is making sure that the content is job one – quality and not quantity. And please don’t even consider podcasting/vodcasting. They have next to no market penetration within the advertising world, so obviously there is no money to be had here short of “nickel and diming” it.
Somehow, the TechTV crowd needs to be allowed a block of time set aside on an existing network dedicated to learning and discovery. I have one channel in mind, but more on that later.
The movement for a TechTV revival is as organized as a game of fifty-two card pickup. If anyone is serious about bringing back TechTV, then it’s time to stop screwing around and take the bull by the horns.
This means staging highly visible, Firefox-like promotional stunts that will quite literally overwhelm the tech news world. We already know the numbers are there, but do the TV networks believe us? Perhaps it’s time for a little demonstration?
First, decide that you want to be on say, the Learning Channel. As I stated above, trying to recreate a new network is a huge mistake. So choosing something like The Learning Channel is key. Since TechTV was as much education as it was entertainment, targeting Discovery Communications, Inc. is the most logical avenue for a number of reasons.
“But they’re simply not interested.” I suspect this is the most likely response I would be getting from some of the old TechTV crew, and I get this. But good grief, do we need to re-read The Learning Channel tagline – “Live and Learn”! I think that The Learning Channel simply needs to have the “volume” turned up a little…
Become highly visible.
Part of the problem of not being well organized is the total lack of mainstream visibility. I am sure that a number of people would argue that marching on a network’s offices might be a little extreme, however, this does not mean that it cannot be done in a virtual sense!
Video is the single most powerful medium there is in my opinion. Now imagine the doorman’s response at Discovery Communications, Inc. when a USPS truck pulls up with thousands upon thousands of letters, video CDs, and audio CDs explaining why the fans of TechTV want their content back. G4 left it spinning, it’s time for a network like The Learning Channel to pick up the pieces.
Now I have seen a number of efforts using online petitions. Folks, they are meaningless and merely sending email will get you blacklisted. Having a flood of physical letters and CDs on the other hand, would quite literally blow a few people at Discovery Communications right out of their office chairs.
Now here’s the catch to make something like this effective. Every single envelope needs to have the header “We Want Our Technology Television Back” clearly visable for the recipient to see. Any first year moron in the entertainment industry is going to pick up on this pretty fast – add this technology content to their existing line-up and they automatically gain a buttload of new viewers. It’s simply matter of eyeballs for advertisers, folks.
Stop being nice!
It is my opinion that TechTV alumni need to start playing hardball and work the entertainment game in such a way that it gets them noticed.
If they have a real desire to bring back TechTV in full force, then they need to fight for it! Think it’s better to play by the rules instead? Consider this: playing by “the rules” is what allowed Comcast to come along and destroy the network in the first place. Traditional advertising models, leaving control in the hands of people who do not understand their audience and so on – I believe that all of these factors helped to topple a once great network. I feel that it may be time for a little “shock and awe” – geek style. Get vocal, get noticed, and get serious.
The more noise the TechTV fans make in an organized fashion, the better position to negotiate on preferred terms they’ll be in. I realize that the idea of flooding a network company such as Discovery Communications, Inc. with letters and video CDs seems pretty intense. But in reality, all you are doing is alerting them to some of the most passionate groups of TV viewers on the face of this planet. And more important, alerting the network in such a way that it PROVES that these viewers take this “tech stuff’ extremely seriously. Do you really believe that they’re going to turn down an audience this passionate? I think not. Well, not unless they like enjoy burning off ad dollars just for the heck of it, that is.
Why should I even care?
TechTV quite literally changed my life forever. Not because of the content it provided, rather because of the fact that it introduced me to this fun-loving guy known as Chris Pirillo from a show called Call For Help. Ever since that day Chris and I first corresponded, I have been presented with more opportunities than I could have ever imagined. So yes, bringing back the magic of TechTV is something that I definitely want to see happen. And if this report seems a little intense, let’s just say that I owe all of the TechTV crew my thanks for the many years of education and entertainment back in my PC repair days. That and for bringing Chris’ existence to my attention.
[tags]chris pirillo,leo laporte,g4,techtv,call for help,paul allen,learning channel,media blitz[/tags]