Friday, July 24, 2009

The great myth of TV and customer service

You know, I'm rather surprised that I've never expressed this thought in my blog. I tried searching, and it hasn't turned up.

An awful lot of how TV works is rather easily explained once you know and understand the hidden truth of TV, at least as it is practiced in the United States today.

People watch TV and feel like they're the focus of the industry. That all that work and all that money spent goes into serving them and their entertainment needs. And that's true, so far as it goes.

But the fundamental, dirty secret truth is that despite that, you're not their customer.

You're the product being sold.

The advertisers are the customers, as far as the TV stations and networks are concerned. They make and transmit TV shows to attract eyeballs. Those eyeballs - our eyeballs - are sold to the advertisers. And that's what makes the world go 'round.

Don't get me wrong - TV stations want to keep you happy. The same way a shepherd wants to keep his flock happy. But they have no incentive to do anything at all that will cost them any money unless it brings more eyeballs, which indirectly brings them more money.

And that's not a bad thing. It's capitalism in action. It surely beats the alternatives on offer elsewhere - government funded broadcasting, where the only connection between the money and the programming is a bunch of government bureaucrats who either have an agenda of their own or - perhaps worse - are insufficiently incentivized to care.

1 comment:

rob said...

I like your analysis. it contains truth. however:
1. those govt. bcrats also may have an indirect interest in pleasing viewers. if viewers don;t like content they vote out the pols in power (either via elections or revolutions) who fire the tv programers and hire new ones to do more viewer friendly shows, etc.

2. you also leave out the human factor in both situations. people don't ONLY respond to financial/political incentives. they have personal and professional standards, goals and limits, which may or may not be greatly influenced by $.

So like everything human it is a mashup. I personally prefer public tv and the bcrats who I support with an annual donation, and netflix via roku. whatever...