Once More Unto Comcast’s Breach:* KO’s KO Foreshadows Cable on the Canvas?

Amidst the gnashing of teeth over the suspicious coincidence of Comcast’s take over of NBC and Keith Olberman’s disappearance from the air, my first reaction was, who cares?  Or rather, who really will notice?

That’s because I’ve been feeling, without much evidence, that cable blather is reaching a diminishing returns point, at least as far as political mobilization is concerned.  Certainly, their impact exceeds their actual reach. As of November, the top rated cable news-like show was Bill O’Reilly’s, with a total viewership of about 3.5 million.  In Neilson terms, that’s a rating of maybe 3.4 or so.  Not bad — but not exactly dominant either.  Next up was Fox’s Bret Baier, someone I confess I’ve literally never heard of.  His number for the month? 2.4 million — or about 2 and change in the ratings.  Olberman came in at number 12 with 1.1 million and a bit, or a barely more than one Neilson point.

It is indeed horrifying that the top 11 programs in cable news are all Fox shows — but the point is that however successful Fox has been with its business model,** these are not impressive numbers within the mass media and in an electorate the size of ours.   Fox has had influence disproportionate to its actual reach — but it helps to remember its man-behind-the-curtain quality.

By comparison, this blog scored around 25 million total page views last year.  Obviously the two media are enormously different, and there is a profoundly distinct impact when a message is delivered in spoken word and picture over and over again.  A few hundred words on the screen, however successfully they start your rhetorical engines, can’t hope to set the same emotional hooks in its audience.***

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But that’s not actually my point. Rather, it is that the experience of just this one blog demonstrates that there exists a means of distribution and engagement that reaches audiences that are within an order of magnitude of those of great big gazillion dollar media machines.

I’m not usually a technological optimist — as is appropriate for someone who can’t even be bothered to maintain a functioning author’s website or Facebook page.  But I’ve just been buying video gear for a course I’ll start teaching in a couple of weeks about making documentaries, and I’m struck again how little cash up front it takes to buy the tools of fully professional production.  The machines don’t supply the talent, of course, nor a programming strategy, nor PR or any of all that.  But as with blogging and print media eight or nine years ago, the bits and pieces of infrastructure needed to create a whole new architecture of web-distributed video are coming together fast.***

Most important, the medium has finally approached into normalcy.  My kid’s Wii has a browser in it, not to mention a Netflix app.  In a month or so, after I recover from my next visit to the mechanic, I’ll finally buy a web-enabled TV to replace my 16 year old CRT — and I’ll get a wirelessly networked Blu-Ray player with it.  The rap on internet video has been that only geeks want to sit at their computers and watch TV in little boxes on some small screen.  No more.  More or less transparently, you can Hulu and Netflix and browse your way to video in the same living room in which I almost never actually watch scheduled programs any more.

That’s the missing piece.  Once it’s easy to find web TV on televisions, then the fortifications protecting  traditional content originators and distributors totter.

Which is why I think the bits and pieces of rumor I’ve heard about Olberman thinking about headlining a web network — even if they are wholly fantasy — is exactly the thought that ought to terrify Big Cable the most.

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All of which is a long winded way to respond to DougJ’s prediction about liberal hosts on MSNBC in five years time.  My guess is that he’s right.  But I don’t see that I care.

The caveats:  Obviously, the mere physical capacity to create and distribute programming is no substitute for actual talent, smart program choices, tolerable production values and all the rest. It is the easiest thing in the world to make crappy, undiscoverable, utterly irrelevant web-video.  There’s already a surplus of such out there.

If a Left answer to the Right’s domination of traditional cable is to have traction, it will have to both concentrate creative talent and build a conceptual infrastrucure — some model to absorb and remake the notion of channels and shows and a programming schedule.  And of course the largest cost of anything remotely like a studio program or even a curated and organized repository of audience-sourced material lies with the people who drive the cameras, cut the footage and so on.  Cheap isn’t free — but when startup costs thousands (tens of, maybe) instead of millions, you’re in with a chance.

But as we’ve seen with the print world, once the barriers to entry drop, the numbers of those who can do really interesting things grows.  That’s been true in radio for a long time — just check out stuff like the Third Coast festival or a lot of what NPR has catalyzed over the last decades. (And look at the new book Reality Radio if you want to learn about how folks like Jay Allison or Ira Glass,  the Scissor Sisters, the legendary Scott Carrier or the impossibly young Jad Abumrad — and many others all found their voices telling true stories in sound.)*****

Now the underlying elements are there for video too, in an almost zero (in television terms) cost of the acquisition and post production of video and a nearly costless network on which to “broadcast” the finished product — and in the existence (finally) of an audience equipped with the tech that makes it relatively easy to engage with what could be made with such tools.

I hope the left blogosphere takes advantage.  I’m now officially thinking about what I could do to help.  And you?  More the merrier, folks.
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*Breach guys, not breeches. Geez. This is a family blog.*******

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**And make no mistakes: Fox is all about the cash.  If dittohead hippies became a larger and more exploitable demographic than tea-tardists, you’d see changes.  Murdoch is vile boil on the body politic, but it’s C.R.E.A.M for him too.

***Mixed metaphor alert. It’s OK, kids.  I’m a professional.  Don’t try this at home.
__

****Not to gear-head up the main body of the piece, you can now shoot decent HD video on cameras that run $2,000 or less.  (You can do pretty well with a camera that runs $6-800, but if you go that route you (a) have to spend a fair amount of money on add-ons that the consumer gear does not possess and (b) have to be a really clever video person.  Smarts can substitute for money, up to a point, but the price paid is in all the work-arounds you need to deal with.)  Sound gear will run you a few hundreds more for a basic kit.  Lights — you can do a lot with “practicals” — the stuff you already have lying around — and a tolerable basic 4 head light kit is another twelve or fourteen hundred at retail.

I’m thinking like a documentary person here, not a studio guy — but the same deflators apply there.  A three camera set up with grip, lighting, and sound enough to mike two or three people could be put together on a shoestring of less than $20,000, perhaps even less than $10K if you really scrounged and dumpster-dived.  That’s a lot of scratch for any individual — but in the media landscape, in a context of blogs that reach tens or hundreds of thousands per day?  It’s not much of a reach.

As for editing — it’s become almost cost free as far as the tools go.  You need a reasonably recent laptop, some hard drives (many backups folks!  Be paranoid!), and if you are just doing studio stuff, the latest iMovie will do what  you need — at a program cost of something like $80 bucks.  Even the pro editing bundles are cheap now.

In sum:  while it is certainly possible to spend an unlimited amount on anything to do with motion pictures, the point is that  you don’t have to if all you want to do is get folks in a set talking to each other or scribbling on a black board — that’s the easy stuff, and it’s unbelievable for someone like me, who started out in the ’80s, just how many barriers to entry for creative types have dropped away.  Berlin Wall c. 1989, baby.

*****Which thought makes this perhaps the right place to let y’all know that I’ll on Virtually Speaking, hosted by Jay Ackroyd — commenter here from time to time, and an FP poster at Atrios’s place, Eschaton.  My slot arrives this coming Thursday, 27 January, at 9 p.m. EST.  I believe this all happens in Second Life — which is why, I kid you not, I’m having an avatar make-over tomorrow.  Come on down!  And now, back to your regularly scheduled blog post.

******If you missed Rocky and Bullwinkle, you missed civilization.

Images:  Trophîme Bigot, Crying Man, 1625

Johann Heinrich Roos, Gypsies in an Ancient Ruin, 1675

[cross posted at The Inverse Square Blog]






89 replies
  1. 1
    cathyx says:

    With regard to cable, I’m surprised as many people pay for it as there is. When does it become too expensive to make it worthwhile? It has become too expensive for me a long time ago. I don’t place that much value on TV.

  2. 2
    Mark S. says:

    Bret Baier. Never heard of him either.

  3. 3
    BR says:

    On that note, I highly recommend Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television by Jerry Mander. He was a advertising legend who then turned away from the industry and wrote – in 1978 – on where he saw things headed (and why we should turn off the TV). I was reading it the other day, and it’s eerie how he almost anticipated Fox News back then.

    A long excerpt is available here.

  4. 4
    cathyx says:

    In fact, TV watching isn’t just the expense of the cable. The new TV’s are too expensive to me too, I still have the old fat kind, to most of my friends shock and amazement. I say you don’t know what you’re missing if you’ve never watched television on the new flat screened types. Ignorance is bliss.

  5. 5
    NobodySpecial says:

    I think you’re being a bit naive about the whole thing.

    25 million page views sounds like a lot until you realize that if you have 70,000 people viewing the page once a day, that’s more than 25 million page views. 70k is nice, but it’s not 3.5 million, nor anywhere near the collective impact of TV when you add in all the waiting rooms, gyms, and other social areas where people are exposed to Fucks News by the passive nature of TV viewing. Web exposure is by nature active, which makes it less likely you’re going to encounter it.

  6. 6
    MikeJ says:

    It is indeed horrifying that the top 11 programs in cable news are all Fox shows

    But still tiny, tiny numbers. All Things Considered’s audience dwarfs everything on cable news. As RM says, every rerun episode of Hannah Montana draws more viewers.

    O’Reilly gets 3.5 million? WoW has 12million subscribers, people who are already paying their cable company for internet and shell out extra.

  7. 7
    BR says:

    @MikeJ:

    Maybe an alternative way of looking at it is to say that the world of the Beltway is only news / politics oriented. That means that out of the total news audience, Fox has a large share of viewers, which means that the Beltway will take them seriously, and therefore amplify their message. And politicians will follow along.

  8. 8
    natthedem says:

    The first part of this reminds me of this Rachel Maddow segment where she notes that her and Bill O’Reilly’s show are outperformed by a lot of shows, including The Closer, Spongebob Squarepants and WWE Wrestling.

  9. 9

    The problem with comparing FOX News numbers to MSNBC numbers is that FOX is part of every basic cable/satellite package whereas MSNBC is not. I can’t tell you how many people I know who don’t get MSNBC because they have the basic package. I’ve just never understood why this isn’t brought out more often. The fact that an Olbermann or Maddow do as well as they do despite this handicap is actually pretty phenomenal.

    That said, compare these cable news numbers to network TV numbers. “The Event” was cancelled after drawing a paltry 7.4 million total viewers — twice as many viewers as O’Reilly.

  10. 10
    General Stuck says:

    I agree that there are now so many different media outlets and sources, any one medium, like cable news has limits to it’s power to influence voters. Especially in the short term. These stations and their prime time viewing is mostly for pol junkies and whatever choir it is they are preaching to. MSNBC has become something of a liberal counterpoint to Fox, and CNN covers all the viewers on Alpha Centauri, and whatever other inhabited planets within reach.

    The one television medium that is still fairly viable and potent to reaching a larger number of viewers is network news and their local affiliates who replay parts of the national version. Though their share of viewers has shrunk from when everyone tuned to get their marching orders from Cronkite and the like.

    So, I see cable news more as a feeder and framer of news, or kind of an embryonic stage of the news cycle, that amounts to a draft report for the biggies, and to a degree newspapers. In that regard, they are important, but not enough for me to watch that circus. There is a new pair-a-dine that has been forming on several layers before being crafted into a national narrative. It likely starts with cable 24 hour news, they kick it around some, and web outlets like Politico picks it up, shapes it some more for the David Gregory’s of the world to regurgitate on Sunday morn. At least for political news.

    Cable news therefore is an important part of this new process, and I think it is obvious, the importance of having some counter to FoX News. I think over the long term of creating and maintaining national memes and pol narratives, cable news is important, though not so much for the short term. And someone to call bullshit on the Fox Factory of liberal urban myths, can maybe keep that under control, at least a little.

  11. 11
    Turbulence says:

    You have to realize that shows like O’Reilly are not targeted to the general population. The median age of O’Reilly’s audience is over 71 — more than half of his audience is over 70. O’Reilly’s show is a screamfest comforting angry old white people. That’s it.

  12. 12
    Turbulence says:

    @General Stuck: see cable news more as a feeder and framer of news, or kind of an embryonic stage of the news cycle

    This. Normal non-retired people don’t watch cable news. But politicians do. Journalists do. Everyone in DC watches cable news. That’s why it matters.

  13. 13
    parsimon says:

    All of which is a long winded way to respond to DougJ’s prediction about liberal hosts on MSNBC in five years time. My guess is that he’s right. But I don’t see that I care.

    and in the existence (finally) of an audience equipped with the tech that makes it relatively easy to engage with what could be made with such tools.

    I’m not happy about the sheer number of people left behind, those who actually cannot afford the tech needed. Those are the people who are, already, fixated on what cable news offers, who don’t turn to the web for news. It’s getting us a nation of people increasingly dominated by Fox News watchers.

  14. 14
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Southern Beale: I’ve been travelling a lot in the past couple of years, and my rough estimate would be that less than a third of the hotels I stayed in got MSNBC. I don’t remember one that didn’t get Fox.

    I still maintain that Fox’s chief influence is/has been within the media, and I think KO and Rachel (and bloggers and those of us who write letters and generally harass Establishmentarians) have been somewhat successful in pushing back in that arena, too.

  15. 15

    @NobodySpecial: Exactly. And it’s not 70,000 people per day viewing BJ. Most of the page views are regular readers refreshing the page to see new comments. A page view does not equal a single viewer of a show.

  16. 16

    It’s kind of amazing we’re able to win elections at all considering how little of the liberal message gets out across the public airwaves.

    I’m only partly being sarcastic.

  17. 17
    mb says:

    The problem is that the sacking of KO is part of the game. They’re making sure that liberal/progressive media fails by destroying the successful bits. Then it’ll be perfectly logical to chase Fox down the rightwing rat hole since “hey look, our ratings are in the dumper!”

  18. 18
    Violet says:

    @Southern Beale:

    The problem with comparing FOX News numbers to MSNBC numbers is that FOX is part of every basic cable/satellite package whereas MSNBC is not.

    Now that Comcast owns MSNBC they certainly have the ability to change that. Will they?

  19. 19

    @parsimon:

    I’m not happy about the sheer number of people left behind, those who actually cannot afford the tech needed. Those are the people who are, already, fixated on what cable news offers, who don’t turn to the web for news.

    I don’t get this. Who can afford cable but not internet? Cable’s fucking expensive. I’m sure there are people who can afford neither, or who can afford one but not both, but in the latter case internet is a much, much better deal.

  20. 20

    I remember all of the gloating over Air America’s “failure” and how it “proved” that there is no market for liberal media. But Air America was actually pretty successful, considering everything. It was born in a fishbowl, everyone expected it to be an instant profit generator. I mean shit, the Washington Times has never made a profit, and how long has it taken for FOX News to be profitable? Rush Limbaugh was germinated in the mid-1980s and had 10-15 years to build an audience before he came to national prominence.

    So, double standard yet again … but yeah “there’s no audience for liberal media,” and the contradictory “ALL media is liberal, you don’t need the Fairness Doctrine” seems to be the new conventional wisdom.

  21. 21

    Oh and by the way, this is why I watch “Real Housewives” and “Top Chef reruns ad nauseum.

  22. 22

    @TooManyJens: The internet is a much better deal. I’m getting ready to cancel my cable tv as soon as I pick up an xbox for streaming video to my tv.

  23. 23
    Mornington Crescent says:

    I’m not completely convinced that fox news is all about the money. I owned a few hundred shares of nws for about 3 years and sold at a loss. I quick check shows the share price is slightly lower now then when I sold. The dividends weren’t all that great either.

    Then again, fox news is just one small part of nws, so you might be talking about something other than my experience as a shareholder, and media has a difficult business model right now.

  24. 24
    Jay S says:

    Breach guys, not breeches. Geez. This is a family blog.******

    Into Comcast’s breach sounds way more suggestive to me than their breeches.

  25. 25
    Caz says:

    Why is it “horrifying” that Fox has the top 11 news programs? It should tell you that Americans trust Fox to deliver the news, and they appreciate the format of the shows, the personalities, and the points of view they provide through hosts and guests. And all of the Fox shows, with the exception of Glenn Beck’s, have guests from across the political spectrum.

    While I agree that the hosts of these shows are conservative, they all present the news of the day in a fair manner. That the shows’ hosts have conservative opinions on the topics is far from “horrifying,” unless your goal is to turn America into a fine socialist society with a massive centralized government run by corrupt career politicians who are out of touch with reality.

    I find Olberman’s lies and abrasive attacking style far more horrifying. But it appears we will be spared from his vitriolic rhetoric until he finds a new propaganda platform to cry wolf from.

    That Fox is so popular just goes to show what Americans are looking for from their news shows: factual reporting with opinions provided by both liberals and conservatives.

    But I’ve found that most liberals who find Fox so “horrifying” rarely, if ever, even watch Fox. We can see this ignorance at work in this blog, where Brett Baier is apparently unknown to the author even though he has one of the highest rated news shows on TV. And of course there’s the never-ending daily portrayal of Glenn Beck as some hate-mongering, violence-inciting conspiracy theorist. Anyone who actually watches Beck knows that he regularly decries violence and supports EVERY one of his allegations with video and documents right from the various socialist horses’ mouths.

    Good for Fox! Not so good for the socialist progressives. So I suppose I’ll check back here later to see the littany of liberals who think I’m an idiot. I always find good entertainment value on this site, and since my favorite entertainment source, Keith Olberman, is no longer available to me, I may have to visit this site a little more often. :-)

  26. 26
    Tom Levenson says:

    @NobodySpecial: Optimistic, I hope, more than naive.

    Of course Balloon Juice’s audience is much smaller than O’Reilly’s. But it’s measurable — and this is just one quirky place put together at essentially no cost. My point was simply that audiences of noticeable size are already available on the web.

    Again — I’m not saying that anything an individual blog, or even a more organized and commercially engaged place like Talking Points Memo or HuffPo has reached the stage where there are direct competitors to, say, the New York Times or WSJ. Rather, it’s that the video monopoly held by the Nets and Big Cable is facing a web-enabled media landscape that seems to me to resemble that the big print media places confronted — and largely got lost in — a decade ago.

    There’s a chance to do new stuff now, in other words, but to be sure, no guarantee.

    @John – A Motley Moose: The numbers on both sides are suspect. But again, the point is not that Balloon Juice has an equivalent reach to Fox, but that the difference in scale between what is, after all, an avocation of a blog and a huge commercial enterprise is surprisingly less than you might think.

    Finally — to all those who say the influence of Fox and the other cable news operations lies with the ability to reach and influence DC itself — true. But again, that’s the snapshot now. I’m trying to see whether or not that last line of defense for traditional news will hold in five years. I’d be surprised, frankly, if it does. Cable’s not going away — but I think they are much more vulnerable to competition than many believe.

    Time will provide the experiment…

  27. 27
    Jay S says:

    @TooManyJens: There’s a capital investment in equipment, plus the psychology of sunk costs that make that switch (from tv to internet) non trivial. Plus a general lack of awareness of what is currently available.

    Edited for clarity.

  28. 28
    Mark S. says:

    I’m pretty tempted to dump cable but, man, network TV hardly shows sports at all anymore. Well, they show the NFL and a shitload of NASCAR.

    And for some reason, my service provider doesn’t do ESPN3.

  29. 29
    gnomedad says:

    this blog scored around 25 million total page views last year.

    Sure, but 24 million are attributable to FYWP.

  30. 30
    parsimon says:

    @TooManyJens: I was mostly referring to upgrading the TV to a web-enabled configuration.

    Swapping your existing, works-perfectly-fine, box TV (with cable) for internet — often requiring buying a new, somewhat expensive TV — is a barrier for a lot of people. I’ve talked to a number of friends and acquaintances who aren’t willing or inclined to do it.

  31. 31
    JasonK says:

    Those are the people who are, already, fixated on what cable news offers, who don’t turn to the web for news. It’s getting us a nation of people increasingly dominated by Fox News watchers.

    Well, not its not given the numbers Tom Levenson is quoting.

  32. 32

    Breach guys, not breeches. Geez. This is a family blog.******

    If we’re going to joke about homophones, don’t we need to deal with that “into” in the post title as well?

    /admits he had always said “‘into’ the breach” as well before he looked up the text of the play just now, and therefore feels slightly guilty being so picky

  33. 33

    @parsimon: OK, that makes sense. Thanks.

  34. 34
    Yuppers says:

    @Mark S.:

    Well… they show NFL, unless it’s 2/5ths of the games of the week — Monday Night Football has been gifted to ESPN, and the Thursday games are on the NFL network. And yes, ESPN got a playoff game, too.

    As an antenna/no cable guy, I do notice this, and it bites.

  35. 35
    Caz says:

    “Over time, as the Fox demo continues to die off…” What is the “Fox demo” and why is it dying off, or will die off?

  36. 36
    Yutsano says:

    @Tattoosydney: Remember: pedanticism is like black: it is always fashionable.

    Hi hon. I can’t make up my mind for dinner beyond I don’t wanna cook and I don’t really want to sit down anywhere.

  37. 37
    Little Boots says:

    maybe you’re right, Tom, there is something so small about cable, and the constant battles over who gets a show, who doesn’t. But if you think about who watches cable, who would bother, it is really those people already motivated to vote or to get involved in other ways. And that small group may just matter, and if that small group is only allowed to hear one side, that really matters. That’s what all this is about, really.

  38. 38
    Mornington Crescent says:

    Cable’s not going away—but I think they are much more vulnerable to competition than many believe.

    This is so true.

    I read somewhere (but i can probably find it) that about 30,000 cut their cable every month, but that the primary obstacle to people cutting their cable and going to the intenet solely for entertainment is sports programming. Without sports programming, about 40% of subscribers would leave cable.

    As such, in baseball, for example, some teams have become increasingly media (and real estate) companies as far as their revenue streams go.

    The YES network was a groundbreaking enterprise and provides about $400m per year to the new york yankees. When other teams saw dollar signs and tried to copy this (kansas city, minnesota), their multi-service operators (comcast, e.g.) refused to carry these team-owned networks and they failed.

    With people cutting their cable, and the sway that sports programming has on cable, teams are in a different bargaining positioning now with the multi-service providers. Teams that own part of the regional sports networks that carry their games (cubs, phillies, giants, etc.) are in a different bargaining position now.

    It’ll be interesting to see how many teams own their own networks a few years from now, and whether they will be only offered exclusively on cable.

  39. 39
    Little Boots says:

    It’ll be interesting to see if blogs really influence, or if it’s just the already convinced that gravitate toward them.

  40. 40
    junebug says:

    That’s because I’ve been feeling, without much evidence, that cable blather is reaching a diminishing returns point

    I feel the same way about radio, specifically AM radio, which is the largest carrier of wingnut radio.

    After this past election, one of the local talkers was taking credit for red light cameras getting the boot. (Before the vote I had run into a lot of people passing out fliers and engaging people on that point and there had been a couple of people very vocal about it.) I called to ask the wingnut radio guy what proof he had, given his station’s diminishing audience numbers via Arbitron, and he jumped on me big time.

    I think the influence of all of these fat people talking about crap is crap.

    I would much rather read about the problem of poverty, abortion, and Medicaid fraud in the white community than listen to these numskulls point fingers at minorities.

    It is my plea, let’s talk about the downfall of white people in this country. The time has come.

  41. 41
    sdhays says:

    There are A LOT of people who continue to pay for cable because of ESPN, and that’s it. If they could watch games online in HD, they would drop CrapCast in a second. Cable is so expensive and you can get almost everything else online already on Hulu etc.

  42. 42
    parsimon says:

    @TooManyJens: Not to carry on, but this really is a significant issue, not just in what will probably be the eventual switchover by just about everyone to web-enabled TV setups, but in terms of the extent to which very large numbers of people just are not attuned to web content. At all.

    We kid ourselves if we think that the battle for the public mind and imagination isn’t class-based, by which I mean that lots of people don’t even have home access to high-speed internet in the first place. Those are a lot of the people who listen to Limbaugh on the radio and watch network news.

    There’s a bit of blindness involved in the notion that of course everyone can tune in to this awesome new web medium.

  43. 43

    @Yutsano:

    I don’t wanna cook and I don’t really want to sit down anywhere.

    Buy a bag of chips (crisps?) and go walking though the park and reminiscing?

  44. 44
    Ana Gama says:

    @BR:

    Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television by Jerry Mander

    Excellent recommendation! I read it several years ago, and then found it a used bookstore last year, and read it again.

  45. 45
    Little Boots says:

    @sdhays:

    Okay, I have no idea how they measure viewership, ever, but can’t they tell who is watching msnbc and who is watching fox?

  46. 46
    Yutsano says:

    @Tattoosydney: Hehehe. A touch late for that though methinks. I suppose I could just give in and fry some bacon for a BLT and call it good.

  47. 47
    Mark S. says:

    @Mornington Crescent:

    Without sports programming, about 40% of subscribers would leave cable.

    I believe it. 98% of it is absolute dogshit.

  48. 48

    @Tom Levenson: I suppose so if you think the difference between 20,000 viewers per day and 3.5 million per day is “surprisingly less than you might think”.

    @parsimon: If your tv can be used with a gaming console, and not many can’t be in this day, then all you need is an xbox or ps3 console. If you already have an xbox then there is no cost involved at all. The only additional cost you might incur is if you decide to pay $8-$10 per month for Netflix or Hulu premium account. I might do that, but I might not since most of the shows I watch are available for free right from the network web sites.

    I’m looking for a used xbox without a harddrive. If I can’t find one then I’ll buy a new one for around $200. I’ll recoup that investment in 2-3 months. After that, it’s all gravy.

  49. 49
    Janet Strange says:

    Where does net neutrality figure into this? Making content is getting affordable, but the infrastructure that delivers the internet is not. If the internet providers can control the quality of what gets delivered (speed, etc.), what’s to prevent the next Murdoch from ensuring that only Fox-like web news media get streamed fast enough to be watchable?

  50. 50
    Tax Analyst says:

    I don’t know if anyone above has pointed this out, but for a left-leaning show to get anyone to watch it will also have to have something more interesting than the head-bobbing chatter and vitriol spew that dominates Fox’s talk and opinion show menu(at least I hope so). I’m not saying there is no “head-bobbing” faction on the left, just that I don’t think they’d stay glued to the tube very long if the content didn’t do at least a little more than match their own particular biases.

  51. 51

    The rap on internet video has been that only geeks want to sit at their computers and watch TV in little boxes on some small screen. No more.

    It does amaze me that many big media providers either:

    (a) just don’t get that more and more people now actively access content through their tv or computer or iPad whenever they want it, rather than by passively viewing whatever happens to be on tv or in the paper, or

    (b) if they get it, have no idea how to exploit it.

    Australian newspapers seem awfully bad at making a success (or god forbid, money) out of online content.

    That said, our publicly owned tv channel is doing very well at providing on demand content to viewers (content of course blocked to non-Australian viewers), and our free to air channels are doing a very creditable job of competing with cable TV in Australia.

    Then, of course, there’s Rupert’s little iPad plans…

  52. 52
    gbear says:

    @John – A Motley Moose:

    Most of the page views are regular readers refreshing the page to see new comments.

    and given that anyone using IE has to refresh at least five times just to read the damned postings, the number of actual readers drops even more.

  53. 53

    @Yutsano:

    BLT

    Yum. I’m making steak Dianne for dinner, with lime icecream and pineapple sorbet to follow.

  54. 54
    Tom Levenson says:

    @John – A Motley Moose: Actually – an order of magnitude, even two is less than I would have thought, when the entities being compared are a blog put out as an avocation, that has to be sought out amidst an effectively limitless number of possible sources…and one of the big three cable nets most highly rated show.

    Balloon Juice is a one man band, plus a backing group, plus an enthusiastic community of visitors. That John, then Tim F. then others have somehow created a media source that makes it into the conversation at all is an astonishing comment on the way open access to the web has altered the way media behaves.

    Again: the claim isn’t that a web-network would be able to compete head to head with Fox now. It is that all the technological pieces are now available to be stitched into something very potent in the delivery of full motion video to peoples’ living rooms — and that a his is a very recent development.

    As @efgoldman: put it — change is a’comin. I won’t say what, but I do think it makes sense to try and catch this particular wave in ways that can undermine the Right’s monopoly of one of the most powerfully persuasive forms of communication we possess.

  55. 55
    Tom Levenson says:

    @gbear: Who uses IE anyway….;)

    (ducks)

  56. 56
    General Stuck says:

    Balloon Juice is a one man band, plus a backing group, plus an enthusiastic community of visitors.

    I like to think of Balloon Juice as a Kazoo Ensemble with a Peanut Gallery

  57. 57
    Mornington Crescent says:

    WGN in Chicago also was an early superstation

    Yes, and WGN also used to carry all 162 cubs games live on local tv back in the 1960s and 1970s, the only team to do so at the time.

  58. 58

    @General Stuck:

    I like to think of Balloon Juice as a Kazoo Ensemble with a Peanut Gallery

    Says the head peanut.

    /I didn’t actually mean that, Stuck, but none of your actual detractors are around to say it.

  59. 59
    Thymezone says:

    25 million page views?

    That was mostly people waiting for their posts to come out of moderation.

  60. 60
    MikeJ says:

    @Tattoosydney:

    Yum. I’m making steak Dianne for dinner,

    Diane’s got everything, a helicopter, a submarine….

  61. 61
    gbear says:

    @Tom Levenson: Thanks for keeping that comment short. My borders blew up again…

  62. 62
    General Stuck says:

    @Tattoosydney:

    LOL, thanks for filling in. They all love me, deep down.

  63. 63
    Yutsano says:

    @Tattoosydney: Nom! I’m thinking there may be a milkshake out there in the world with my name on it. There’s a place not too far up the road from me that has all kinds of flavours. I’m thinking a blackberry-peanut butter might just soothe the soul this evening.

  64. 64
    MikeJ says:

    @Yutsano: Which place are you thinking of?

  65. 65

    @MikeJ:


    She should be dancing.

    /no actual mental link there, just have had that song in my head for weeks and needed to share.

  66. 66
    Tom Levenson says:

    @Tattoosydney: May I recommend mental floss?

  67. 67
    Yutsano says:

    @MikeJ: Kidd Valley on Aurora. I am amenable to other suggestions as I have a full tank of gas and no real timeline for my evening. Plus one glass of white rioja while the bacon was cooking, but that shouldn’t be an issue.

    @Tattoosydney: We need to talk hon. But first I’ll get some much stronger brain bleach. U needz it.

  68. 68
    MikeJ says:

    @Yutsano: I thought you were on the south side, like near the train station. I was hoping to learn of a good milkshake shoppe around here.

  69. 69
    Yutsano says:

    @MikeJ: Nope, Northgate. I looked around West Seattle, and I do have co-workers around that area of town, so I can put my ear to the ground and see what pops up.

  70. 70
    MikeJ says:

    @Tattoosydney: Since we often discusss the New York Times effect on man here, your video is almost always appropriate.

  71. 71

    @Yutsano:

    blackberry-peanut butter

    Urgh. I like a bit of peanut butter, but you Americans are obsessed, I tells you.

  72. 72

    You’re all beegeephobic. Bastards.

    That there is industrial grade pap. It should have a UN health warning.

  73. 73

    Argh. My industrial strength nasty response to you all (it involved both Cliff Richard and Olivia Newton John) is in moderation (and may never be released now that I have told you what’s in there).

  74. 74
    Yutsano says:

    @Tattoosydney: I think it’s the whole growing up with it thing. It’s relatively cheap, can feed a lot of kids without a huge amount of effort, and most kids actually will eat the stuff. We also invented it, so it’s one of our few truly American foods. I can make you peanut butter cookies. Though that also reminds me I need to work on the peanut butter-nutella cookie recipe idea.

  75. 75
    Davis X. Machina says:

    One Fox = 100 big blogs, more or less.

    Think Gulliver.

  76. 76
    frosty says:

    @BR: Funny, I recommended the same book to someone on another thread last night. The part I found most interesting was about the effects of staring at blue light and the tricks directors use (zooms, pans, cuts) to distract you.

    It’s been decades since I read it. Gotta pull it off the shelf again.

  77. 77
    MikeJ says:

    @Yutsano:

    I think it’s the whole growing up with it thing. It’s relatively cheap, can feed a lot of kids without a huge amount of effort,

    I think this is why I can’t stand the stuff now. Too much as a kid.

  78. 78

    @Yutsano:

    I like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Yum.

  79. 79
    Yutsano says:

    @MikeJ: It also depends on how it’s used. I love a good Southeast Asian satay, and you can use it in lots of different Asian noodle dishes as a great dressing. I did that the other night in fact and it was marvelous. I had a ton of it as a kid too, but I still have a big affection for it. But I just like nuts in general. I’d have to off myself if I were allergic to them.

  80. 80
  81. 81
    rageahol says:

    “the net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it” was fine for 1997, but in a post-net-neutrality world it sounds a little dated.

  82. 82
    4jkb4ia says:

    Except that the “few hundred words on the screen” are part of a narrative of years and years and are part of community building. I would not be here telling you that Federer has won if I haven’t had delight in watching him play for years and years. Narratives convey emotion in either form.

    (Only in part yelling at you and in part at bobschacht who had the misfortune of writing that pictures were more “visceral”. In terms of depicting torture, that is correct. In terms of 4jkb4ia’s brain, most pictures are on the outside hard drive and cannot be gotten unless specifically asked for.)

  83. 83
  84. 84

    @cathyx: Ditto this. Minnesota has one of the highest non-cable households in the nation, and it’s still only something like thirty percent (without). I look at the packages I can get, and the CHEAPEST is a hundred bucks a month. Since I can watch most of the shows online, why would I pay that much for three channels? The only thing is as someone else noted–most of the sports are now on cable. I just stopped watching so much sports (until I got access to cable). It’s insane.

    Tom, I think the problem is that on the web as with cable news, people tend to read what reinforces their beliefs, anyway. My brother asked for a website that is straight-talking on healthcare reform so he can send it to his winger friend. I chose WaMo because it’s left-leaning, yes, but very trustworthy on the facts. She immediately fired back an email discrediting the site as being dishonest, whatever. I said to my bro, “She’s entitled to her opinion, but not her own facts.” My point is that even a site like WaMo is not considered reliable by the rightwingers, so it doesn’t matter how many left-leaning blogs there are.

  85. 85
    lllphd says:

    the very notion that fox is so “dominant” has always seemed a red herring to me. just because they’re better than the rest means nothing. ALL the rest are visited by more sane folks. moreover, the web is where most younger folks get all their news these days, so fox is only able to carve a target of folks who are too old and/or feeble-minded to know any better.

    just over a year ago, i had a phone chat with my aunt whose health was failing (she’s since died, which makes this story even more infuriating). some vague reference to the economy sent her into orbit with an anti-obama tirade i would have never believe. it was clear she was extremely agitated about all this stuff, and it broke my heart because she needed to be thinking kind and pleasant thoughts and here she was watching nonstop wall to wall hate all day long. of course, her choice. i just don’t feel everyone has the presence of mind to recognize the toll it takes.

    another relative asked her husband to turn it off when she’s in the room because of all the anger.

    i guess my ultimate point is, we know how bad that operation is, but for all their full tilt grand slam blitzkrieg faux news, they’re still only able to sway about 30% of the vote. and only about 40% of the viewing audience, which anymore, ain’t that much.

  86. 86
    Arclite says:

    By comparison, this blog scored around 25 million total page views last year. Obviously the two media are enormously different, and there is a profoundly distinct impact when a message is delivered in spoken word and picture over and over again. A few hundred words on the screen, however successfully they start your rhetorical engines, can’t hope to set the same emotional hooks in its audience.***

    Does anyone have several hundred million dollars they can give JC so he can start the Sane Political Actual Discourse channel? We can call it SPAD News for short.

  87. 87
    Jeanne Daykin says:

    @Caz:
    I am an 84 year old white woman a former Republican activist who thinks you are an idiot for sure! Fox is filled with air heads as is almost every news program CNN PBS all the talking heads on net works news programs.. in fact The Daley Show with John Stewart is probably the best news source on the screen, and Rachel Maddow while she may not be balanced is definitely fair!

  88. 88
    Jeanne Daykin says:

    @Caz: To CAZ
    I am an 84 year old white woman a former Repubican activist who thinks you are an idiot for sure! Fox is filled with air heads as is almost every news program CNN PBS all the talking heads on net works news programs.. in fact The Daley Show with John Stewart is probably the best news source on the screen, and Rachel Maddow while she may not be balanced is definitely fair!

  89. 89

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