TV is Dead, Long Live TV

Just read this interview. It's with Jeff Macpherson and Tosca Musk of Tiki Bar TV. (Yes. I realize I'm a little obsessed.) It's a pretty thorough behind-the-scenes look at how the show came to be. Lots of fun for anyone who's a fan.

But it's also worth reading for what it has to say about new media.

I found it very interesting to learn how internet-based shows like Tiki Bar are devising new business models for creative content. Basically, they're managing to make a living even though they give their show away for nothing. (Which is kind of like the prairie dog, come to think of it. Holy crap. We're cutting edge!)

Compare that to the dinosaurs in the mainstream media. The media conglomerates are wringing their hands over their intellectual property being pirated and everyday they're coming up with new, more draconian measures to hinder the free flow of content and punish those who circumvent them. And they're losing market share as a result.

Meanwhile, people like Macpherson and co. are making some truly inspired creative content, giving it away, and rewriting the rules of entertainment commerce as they go. Personally I'm pretty excited to see where this will all wind up.

One thing I think is pretty clear is television is going to be an early casualty in all this. Not being able to get shows on demand and for nothing (or next-to-nothing) is just not going to cut it much longer. (On top of that, switching to digital this year and making millions of televisions obsolete isn't going to help their situation any.) And I have to say, after being inundated over the xmas holidays by my parent's prime-time viewing choices, the networks aren't exactly churning out quality material.

Maybe the networks won't go black, but they might become the exclusive domain of reality shows while all the cutting edge drama and comedy wind up online. Kind of like what happened to radio when television took over.

Football and politics

What do you say when you meet up with someone who you really respect, but in a very public work, you want to tell them – and fail to tell them – that they’ve missed the point? That’s the dilemma I faced at a Conexus Credit Union branch when I ran into Rod Pedersen, CKRM’s sports director, play-by-play guy for the stations’ Pats and Riders broadcasts, and author of Green Magic, a book about the 2007 Saskatchewan Roughriders.

The book, originally (at least in my mind) was to have been the subject of an 800 word review, which got cut down further and further into a squib of a review that appeared in the pre-Christmas edition under recommended gifts (the same thing happened to two other books, by Jim Pitsula, that I wanted to review for prairie dog). Space considerations and other stories thwarted my and Whitworth’s attempts to publish anything else.

The worst I can say about Pedersen’s book is the best that I can say: inside a good book is a great book struggling to get out. Green Magic was written because the Riders couldn’t or wouldn’t publish a commemorative DVD of the 2007 season (something about not being able to secure broadcasting rights). Pedersen’s book is good at describing the 2007 season, but he’s a sports guy, not a political studies major, sociologist or historian. And the REAL story of the Saskatchewan Roughriders – how they went from a mom-and-pop organizations where the season ticket drives could have been themed by Pete Droge and the Sinners to the flagship not just of the CFL but also of, for lack of a better term, Saskatchewan Inc., has yet to be told. I think Steve Mazurak (former Rider receiver, local boy, ran for the Liberals in the same riding where I ran for the Rhinos in 1984, currently the Rider’s VP of marketing) is the Riders’ unsung hero for putting the Riders on a much more stable financial footing.

The Riders took everything in the Al Ford business playbook, made a photographic negative out of it, and succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. No more frantic pack the park days that revealed the Riders then-true purpose (not to win football games, but to get 20K or so in the city to buy meals at the restaurants and bars and sleep off the hangovers in the hotels). After Hillsborough, these were acts of madness. As well, the Riders lifted the home blackout policy, got ‘retro’ third jerseys,’ and otherwise gave the Riders a massive warchest.

Somebody writing a story like that could have given the Saskatchewan equivalent of America’s Game, a great book on how the NFL reinvented itself into the marketing machine it is today. Maybe that wasn’t Pedersen’s mandate or ambition when he wrote Green Magic: I wish it was.