numbers are not what they used to be

The television event is dead.

After ABC heavily promoted it as the television event of the decade, the final episode of LOST on Sunday night was seen by about 13.6 million viewers. To put that in perspective, the final episode of Mr. Belvedere in 1990 had 13.8 million viewers.

While I suppose it would be an interesting treatise to compare/contrast the relationships of Jack / Locke / Sawyer to Belvedere / George / Wesley, that’s not the point.

Sure. LOST is probably an odd choice to be using as an example of the decline of the TV event as this last season had lost its sizzle. In addition, it was difficult for the masses to be real fans of the show because it took effort to follow it. And as it turns out, the core fans were victims of a long con by Damon Lindelof , Carlton Cuse and JJ Abrams.

If you haven’t done so already, you need to rethink the concept of audience and what numbers really mean. (but not these numbers 4-8-15-16-23-42)

The audience is smaller, but that audience has been distilled down to a more pure verson of a targeted market. It’s not just about measuring eyeballs. It’s about measuring engagement.

You have to look beyond the actual show to see value. There was a massive amount of social media buzz surrounding the show. (before, during, and after) The finale overtook both the U.S. and international trending topics on Twitter Sunday night. In the week leading up the finale, it dominated entertainment outlets (both online and traditional). No recent TV show has had as much discussion and speculation as this one in recent history. 

Even with light audience numbers, advertisers paid a premium price for placements in the finale. And those advertisers paid special attention to their creative placements. Verizon sponsored messages from the show’s fans. I thought Target had some great ads that were really tuned to the media buy. (My favorites were the smoke and keyboard ones.)

Overall, the LOST finale was a good example of a mass media outlet being used to reach a niche audience. If big media is to survive, it’s something that will have to happen more.

called it

Yesterday, in my post about the media and the Nashville floods, I suggested that maybe the lack of national media attention was due to the lag between the tuned-in minority  and the traditional media.

Turns out I was right. Today (Tuesday) after the pinnacle of the event (late Sat through Mon a.m.), Nashville has popped up on the national radar, taking equal staging with the arrest of the would-be Times Square bomber.

nashville cnn flood

It’s been suggested that the Nashville flood is not a national story because it doesn’t effect anyone outside of Middle TN.

Think about this:

How would the national media react if Hollywood was hit with a disaster (earthquake, flood, or locusts!) and disrupted the movie industry? A major portion of the U.S. music industry (and not just country) resides in Nashville.

Or what if Yankee Stadium or Madison Square Gardens were flooded? Today in Nashville, an NFL stadium and an NHL rink are underwater.

What if the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas was going to be shutdown for the next few months affecting national conferences, tradeshows, and meetings? The largest non-casino hotel in the world and the largest hotel in the United States outside Las Vegas is now shutdown indefinitely .

And these are just the three biggest examples. Nashville is an integral part of the U.S.

Nashville now provides a new twist on an old joke:
What do you get when you play a country song backwards? The water recedes. (original joke)
And speaking of jokes. Them poor Tennessee cows. They taste better.

UPDATE: Newsweek thinks I’m right as does CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

you missed it


If your only source of news is national media, you may not realize that a U.S. city was heavily damaged this weekend.

Yes, the Gulf oil disaster should be the top story and the Times Square car bomb attempt was news as it happened. However, the 38th largest MSA in the U.S. (and the capital of one of its states) was (is) being destroyed by flooding and the only place I was getting information about it was through Twitter.

I am a fan of Nashville for many personal and professional reasons. I have several clients and friends there. I consider it “my big city”. It’s where I fly from and where I go when I need resources that aren’t available locally.

WordPress guru @studionashvegas has a great post about how Nashville has been forgotten and makes some good points about how social media, the community, and traditional local media are the future of information…

National media is dead. Local media, and social media, are the blend of information services we need to survive.

If consumers can’t find the information they need, they will seek it out or create it themselves. We’ve already seen this happen with citizen journalism about in-depth topics. It’s now happening with the real time web for breaking news.

Sure. There can be a mob mentality in these situations where mis-information is disseminated exponentially. But that’s exactly the reason why credible news orgs should be participating in social media offering facts such as @tndotcom, @nashvillest, and @wkrn did during the Nashville event.

The lesson for (any) media is this: Consumers’ first concern is always with what’s happening NOW. They’ll mull the consequences later. Your worries need to lie with why you’re not offering immediate information in an immediate media environment instead of worrying about how to create the souvenir of the news the day after it happens.

Part of the lack of national response for Nashville may come from the lag between the real time web and when traditional media figures out there’s a story. I wrote a post about this phenomenon of the tuned-in minority back in 2008. More recently, I tweeted this on April 20th. I saw the story pop up in newspapers and on TV three or four days later. We’ll see if Nashville gets on the radar in the next few days.

UPDATE: I called it. It was an issue with the tuned-in minority. http://shotgunconcepts.com/2010/05/nashville2

[ btw — if you want to help people in Nashville, you can find info here:
http://nashvillest.com/2010/05/03/so-nashville-is-flooded-how-can-i-help ]