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Discussion in 'TV Show Talk' started by Mark Holtz, Jun 20, 2016.
From Associated Press:
China restricts TV shows based on foreign formats
FULL ARTICLE HERE
That's my one-word assessment of that sort of thinking. It also seems to be based in fear more than anything else, which is sort of what you expect from over there. Only people that think like this could be so arrogant to think this was a smart approach.
People that never ask a question, who never try to learn how anyone else does something, who need to protect a false front that they have all the answers, are insular and uninspired, and they never get better and never grow. People who ask questions, listen to other people's ideas, are willing to learn from others, they just get better and better.
Where do they think inspiration comes from, anyway? By definition, it comes from somewhere outside of you. Generations stand on the shoulders of others so that we can stand on their shoulders. Brilliance is not something that you can turn on and off like a faucet, and it is not something you manufacture like a cow gives milk. Anything that evolves us is a group effort. It takes a village.
We all know the '10% inspiration 90% perspiration' thing. But here's the secret to that: without the 10% inspiration the other 90% means absolutely nothing.
This will not foster innovation, it will stifle it. And it may foster originality, but originality is a poor substitute for quality.
No wonder it has taken them so long to begin to emerge from the dark ages.
They are looking for more inspirtation than outpiration. They do not want their culture "corrupted" by outside ideas.
The rest of the world seems to be passing around the same ideas ... sometimes improving them, sometimes not. There are some shows where I wish they would just play the foreign versions ... but perhaps the people that program US TV think so little of their audience that everything must be "Americanized" for our protection. Which is almost as bad as what China is doing - except China's push is a government that wants to reject foreign ideas entirely and America's push is non-government producers who just don't think their audiences are smart enough to understand foreign cultures.
To be fair... there are a LOT of people in the US who would like to block a lot of things from coming into this country. I am not going to get political here, but there are channels that have a lot of trouble getting carried because they present a different non-USA-centric view... Is it wise? Not in my opinion... but China is only doing what a lot of people here wish could be replicated.
How many times, for example, when someone brings up how another country does education or health care or any number of things, do people here jump up to say "but they do some other thing badly" or basically poo-poo the notion of trying to improve our culture by incorporating some good idea from outside our borders?
China, at least, comes by it naturally... as they historically have been a people and a nation that would try and close itself off... and then behind closed doors invent some cool stuff that nobody knew about for a long time.
I didn't mean to bash China, BTW. The people are wonderful and China contributes to the world and society greatly. And I didn't want to sound so arrogant as if the USA has all the answers either. We rank low in health care, even quality of life, compared to countries like Germany that once tried to annihilate us.What we do rank high is is gun deaths and percentage of blacks incarcerated.
But we do have a free marketplace, if the word 'free' can be used that loosely. A good example of that at work regarding foreign content is Al Jazzera. They are a fine, upstanding news organization (which may be a backhanded compliment--and FOX NC thinks they qualify as that also) and they put on a competent show here. But no one watched, no one cared, and...buh-bye. The marketplace works.
Cable in the 80's was supposed to be special because it served niche audiences. Not that special, especially since that morphed into 200 channels we are forced to pay for and never watch subsidized by us paying more for other channels ($6.65 a month just for ESPN? Come on!) many of which we also don't watch. The average household in a year, in a year, mind you, never ventures beyond 17 core channels, on average. And it is usually the same 17 channels in nearly every home.
But streaming. Ah, streaming. Now we are closer to niche than cable ever dreamed of being. That is one of the best aspects of streaming. And then of course YouTube taught us that niche was everything, and that you didn't need infrastructure to create content (well, beyond YouTube).
But, using Al Jazeera as an example... they have been, thus far, unsuccessful in getting American cable and satellite companies to carry their Al Jazeera English channel, no? And the only way they got Al Jazeera America on TV was by buying the failing Centric TV channel and sneaking in the side-door under those existing carriage contracts... so, while we haven't passed any official ban (like China), there surely seems to be some collusion to keep them off the major cable/satellite companies.
I can't argue that Al Jazeera didn't find an audience, though... that happens sometimes... you try and you fail... but there are people here who actively try to keep a channel with that name and ownership off their dial. We don't even have to look far to find evidence of that (past discussions on this very forum).
So, while we sometimes like to point out how "in other countries you can't do this or that"... we have more than our share of people and groups who actively try to do the same here, and more often than I'd like some of them are successful in getting a thing off TV or off radio.
Streaming is a little harder to contain... since you can be online fairly inexpensively and quickly and 24/7 Internationally... unless you get a government IP address block... then anyone and everyone can seek you out and watch once they know you are there. In that sense, I champion the streaming enterprises to be a new frontier of breaking down barriers and bringing varied content and information to more people with less restrictions... Although, for the most part it seems to mostly just yield more cat videos and groin kick videos.
There's still a lot of that, but there is a lot of Honey Boo Boo on cable and satellite. There is always more chaff than wheat. Even my favorite music genre yields only about 30% that is listenable, while my less-favorites yield about 10% (and the rest 0%).
And I used to think YouTube was all mindless videos of a turtle humping a shoe. But now I go there all the time for instructional stuff, obscure music performances by artists I like. Documentaries on architecture. I could not have replaced my icemaker or my ball valve without it, and I would never have seen Taj Mahal play the blues while telling us exactly how and why he does it like he does. There is a lot or priceless stuff in there that you can't get anywhere else. That's my niche, I guess.
I remember about four years ago they said they were uploading 24 hours of new content per hour to their servers. 6 months later it was 48 hours per hour, and another six months later it was 72 hours per hour. God only knows how much they get a day now.
There is aways politics. My example was that Al Jazzera tried, and the marketplace rejected them. Every channel still has to pass vetting of their angel investors and those that control the infrastructure first, and it is not surprising that there were barriers there, which is why I qualified the word 'free' in free marketplace. The free marketplace happens later on in that process. Every channel faces resistance, just like Al Jazzera did, and Al Jazzera is only possibly different by a matter of scale.
But streaming has less infrastructure, and therefore, less need for vetting. Think Periscope.
With Youtube, the submission process is still free. I think as long as it is free, you'll continue to see good stuff there. I agree, I've found good instructional stuff and some entertainment stuff (music, comedy) as well... BUT I guarantee the farting cat videos still dominate the views... so IF they ever went to a submission process where you had to pay to submit, which would require you make money, which would require you get more views... then I bet we'd get more of the cat and less of the tutorials.
That's kind of where some broadcast has gone... hence a channel that started out as "The Learning Channel" showing the adventures of Honey Boo Boo, which is frankly almost the polar opposite of "learning" anything!
More about YouTube:
Entertainment is often a limbo contest ... how low can you go?
Stick a girl in a bikini (or "Daisy Duke" pants if she is modest) and let her play in the mud or a hillbilly pool in the back of a truck and you'll get ratings. Just add bleeped language or blurred nudity (if broadcast regulations require or "basic cable" voluntary standards are applied). Programming designed for the 14 year old boy?
More thoughtful programming such as AJA's news can't beat honey cameras. Perhaps that is why the top ranked newscasts feature women in high skirts and low necklines ... or why programs featuring such women are top ranked. Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon serve a different kind of audience. The news may not be pleasant but the views are pleasant (Greta and Geraldo notwithstanding). But I digress ...
AJA was a derivative of AJE ... trying to make an international channel more acceptable to the US market. I appreciate the effort and funding that AJ put in to the network to build a US based news network. It is unfortunate that it was not given the time to succeed. But it serves as an illustration of how programmers understand the risk of bringing non-US programming to the US market without adaptation.
China Central TV and Russia Today have international news feeds that have made their way into English TV packages. Not exactly ratings powerhouses. AJE would fit right in but they decided to Americanize and go for higher ratings. BBC America is Americanized (not just adding commercials to a UK feed) ... but a lot of their shows would work in either the UK or US culture. (Look how Americanized Dr Who has become!)
"Friends" went to England, added (more) sex to become "Coupling" and tried to come back. That didn't quite work out as planned. But the "Got Talent" franchise has worked worldwide. Sometimes a show will work in other countries. Sometimes a derivative will do better. Some shows are best lost.
OK. I will admit that there is a 1000:1 ratio of hits on a video of lighting farts vs a virtually exclusive gem of a video of Taj Mahal playing blues guitar. That probably says a lot more about everyone else than it does about me, though.
But Braindead got 1.5 m views in its second ep, while a YT video of Adele got over 100 m.
A lot of that is chalked up to logistics. You have to invest time to watch a show like Braindead on your TV. You have to get the kids settled, make the popcorn, take a pee, coordinate with the spouse, move to the couch, turn off the phone, and then give up an hour of time and FF through eight commercial breaks. With a video of Adele, you invest 5 minutes and just click. Even if you are just waiting for the subway.
I think the key is the video of Adele was only 5 minutes... I don't think anyone wants their dramas and sci-fi and whatnot to be 5 minute episodes... So, yeah, a 5-minute sci-fi short might get more views than a 1-hour sci-fi episode... but flip that... and Star Wars makes more money by being a movie in the theater and on TV than it would being a 5-minute Youtube video, right?
MTV long-ago stopped being in the music video business... so where on TV are you going to see a 5-minute Adele performance?
I'm not even against streaming either... it's just a lot of streaming works because it is new/different OR because it is essentially free to the viewer... but it won't be unique forever and it won't be free forever... and then it will be playing by the same rules as broadcast TV... except, as we've talked about, some of the broadcast hurdles that make it harder to get your show on the air vs putting it online for consumption. In either case you have to have funding to produce your thing... but it's cheaper to be online with something you create than to find a network willing to buy it. The main difference is... if a network buys it, then you have funding to make your project... whereas if you go streaming, you might have to find independent funding if you can't afford to foot the bill in advance yourself.
I think the model for that is Louis CK. What he did with Horace and Pete is revolutionary in how he got it in front of us. Same with his standup specials. And his relationship with FX is absolutely a model for what every artist-production house relationship should be.
A show like Braindead take a couple mil to produce, per ep, but CBS still probably turns a healthy profit, even with a paltry 1.5 m summer viewers. A video of Adele costs virtually nothing to produce, and nothing to post on YouTube. Yet where is the profit in that? Of 100 m views, probably 97 million skipped the ad in front of it. It is probably frustrating that there is no effective way to monetize that. The video was really just a promotion for Adele. Sell a few more iTunes downloads, keep her name out there.
And that's my point: you are NOT going to see a 5-minute video of Adele on CBS in prime time, except for the rare concert special once a year in the holidays, which may or may not be Adele, and won't ever be after a few years go by. Even though 100 m watched her on YT. Again, that video is a commercial for Adele, and the consumer it is also designed to target is networks like CBS, who may indeed take notice and include her in such a special some day (I think it's already happened).