Tags: advertising

Is it sports, entertainment, or advertising? And who's paying who for what?

If, every time the newscaster mentions tomorrow's New York City Marathon, he calls it "The ING New York City Marathon", has he stopped reporting the news for instead broadcasting an advertisement? I find it a little annoying. Then again, I also don't like calling New Shea Stadium "City Field".

It's kind of up there with the fact that what used to be "the Super Bowl" is now "the Big Game" everywhere except for companies that have paid the NFL enough money. The NFL gets pissed if someone hasn't paid them money but uses the term Super Bowl, but how would they respond if the news media said "You know what? This is entertainment, not news. If you want us to talk about it, buy an ad."?

(Yeah, I've got the news on the tv while I'm sitting here editing.)

Randomness

I read several news web sites each day, but increasingly, I'm getting frustrated by the multimedia capabilities each is rolling out. Specifically, there's currently a story on Yahoo's front page titled "Pair of 3,000-year-old temples discovered in Peru" which interests me. I'd very much like to read that article. Unfortunately for me, it's a video story; no text provided. Why? Why no transcript or written article for those of us who can't watch the pretty video and listen to the lovely sound? Sure, it's nice to have the video available, and if I could, I'd prefer the greater number of visuals a video provides versus a written piece with one or two photos. But if I can't watch the video, I can't access the story. CNN has, I think, been the worst offender of late, but they're all picking it up.

It's almost akin to the television commercials with visuals and music, but the actual message is only available as words printed on the screen. I love them because they provide musical interludes when I'm only listening to the television. But when it's information I want, it's suddenly much more annoying.

I get it; it just annoys me

I just started reading a news article… and stopped. CNN had a link to an article on Time's web site that seemed interesting: ten something-or-other I've now forgotten. I clicked over, read the three paragraphs of the first entry, and scrolled down to keep reading, only to discover a link to the next page, which had number 2.

It almost makes sense to do this when the article is a list, almost. But when you get to number 7 and want to remind yourself what number 2 was, you don't want to click back five pages. And when the article isn't a list, but simply an article chopped up into absurdly small pieces, well, that really annoys me.

I know why the newer, smaller web sites do it: to pump up the number of their page views. I am constantly surprised, however, to see big, established sites like Time doing it. It's cheesy and unnecessary. Sure, page views equates to popularity and advertising income. But artificially inflated page views (spreading a 300-word article over three pages, for example) just piss me off. That's why I don't do it on SFScope, and why I don't finish reading many articles that sound good at first.

Am I the only one?

Pushing Daisies may be good, but ABC doesn't really care if I see it.

Remember when television made money by airing programs people wanted to watch, and then charging companies to show ads during those shows? I guess they've found a new model, because they seem to be making it harder and harder for we TiVO-less people to even know when the programs we're interested are on.

I just sent the following to both ABC and TV Guide, though I doubt it'll get any reaction from either. But by sharing it here, I know it will have more readers than if it merely languished in those two in-boxes.

***

A friend [actually, Sarah Stegall, who reviewed the show here] told me ABC would be rebroadcasting Pushing Daisies, and that I really ought to watch it. Unfortunately, the ABC web site starts singing or talking, and wants to show me the episode online (I can't do that), and tell me all the ins and outs of the program, and what the coming episodes are going to be, and who the cast is, and... well, pretty much everything about the show... except when it's on. I phoned ABC, but the only person there is the security detail, who doesn't have a clue. The local operator connected me to a voicemail system, but since I don't know anyone's extension, and the "operator is unavailable," all I could do was leave a voicemail.

And TV Guide, well, I checked tvguide.com, searching for the program. It very quickly told me what episodes are coming up next week, and gave me synopses of them. But I wanted to know about last week's episode, which it grudgingly admitted was on today, but I couldn't find any way (simple or counterintuitive) to get it to tell me when and on what channel. I went to listings, where the site was happy to give me all the listings for right now (which, apparently, is not the time the program is on), and it let me search for a particular program I might want (I typed in "Pushing Daisies"), and then it took me back to the "everything you don't need to know about the program, but not the time or the channel."

I don't have TiVO. Guess I'm one of the people y'all don't really care about watching tv anymore. I'm grumpy, because my friend said it's a good show, but I guess I have no way to tell.

***

Anyway, Sarah said it's good. Guess I won't get to watch that first ep until/unless they put it on during reruns (but reruns time, increasingly, seems to be a time when they show crappy programs I was never gonna watch anyway, rather than reruns of good stuff). Oh well. I'm sure I can find better uses for those few hours I would have been watching television.

Atlantis landed, but TV sucks

The space shuttle Atlantis just landed safely at Edwards AFB in California (because of weather on Florida). Nice landing, no visible problems, they're safeing the craft now.

I watched the landing live on CNN (Miles O'Brien is a really good science and space reporter), and saw most everything I wanted to. They even wised up, and took off some of the clutter for the landing. But that's what I want to talk about: the clutter. The logos, and scrawls, and dingbats, and, basically, shit that television networks have all decided they need to clutter the screen with.

Little logo in the corner, so we remember which channel we recorded the program from? Yeah, that sort of makes sense. And if you're a news channel, I guess the scrawl of less-than-top stories across the bottom might make sense. But how much of that other crap is necessary? In the specific case of CNN, they actually have to make an effort to remove some of the junk in order to let you see the picture (and when they re-ran the landing a minute or two later, they had the "Breaking News: Shuttle Lands Safely" bar over the bottom half of the picture, so I was only seeing the vehicle from the wing up, couldn't see the gear, couldn't see the runway). Do they simply not have a clue, or do they not care? Would it really be that much of a technological challenge to simply shrink the picture a bit so we could see it all (if they decided they need all that other garbage on the screen)?

And they're not even the worst offender. When you tune in to CNN, you know you're looking for news (lots of news, as much data as they can throw at you in as brief a time as possible, give me more, now now now!). But how many other networks have decided that, when you're watching a program, you don't really care about what's going on now; you're far more interested in this animated promotion they're going to stick right on the scene you're watching for some other program? It's looking like all of them. And the lower-tier cable channels running mostly reruns? Well, forget it. They've decided the first 60 seconds of every act are completely meaningless, and you'd be far better off watching the animated ad for some program in a completely different genre that's going to be on next week (and sometimes they even come with sound, so you can't even hear what you're watching). I've given up on Spike TV for that reason.

But you get it on the first-run programs, too. There was an interesting episode of Star Trek: Voyager when the ship was traveling through a dark nebula or a void, so dark that they couldn't see any stars. They gave us a ten-second shot out the viewscreen, just to give the viewers the same feeling the crew had, of traveling through absolute nothingness. It was a good idea, and would have been a great image—just flat black, nothing—except for the UPN logo in the lower right corner, and the little flashy thing in the upper left.

We get it: you're in the business of selling ads, not providing entertainment (or news, or whatever), but that doesn't mean you have to actively damage the entertainment you're giving us to sell those ads. I made a conscious decision with SFScope to not have pop-up ads, to not have ads that interfere with the easy, comfortable reading of the site. I may be losing some business and some revenue because of the decision, but as far as my readers are concerned, I'm providing a service, I'm not selling them ads. If they like what they're getting, I hope they'll realize that I only make money if they actually do click an ad or two, but that's how the business works.

End screed against evil, stupid television networks.