A while back I wrote a piece about how Internet video content sucked compared to “real” TV. But after seeing this cheesy bit where Craig McPishflaps and Fonzie trade hokey Leno-style “impromptu banter” about the iPhone, I’m rethinking my position. TV networks, listen to me — if you get destroyed by the Internet, it will be your own damn fault. Yes, most stuff on the Internet is lame (cough Eisner cough Prom Queen cough) but we’re fast approaching a situation where everything edgy, daring, risky, and funny is on the Internet and “real” TV becomes a version of the old “Lawrence Welk” show, a place where washed-up old comedians trade vanilla-bean scripted chat and unfunny pablum jokes and nobody ever dares say anything that might offend anyone.
Trust me, I own one of these networks. I talk to the executives. They’re clueless pussies who will never dare to take any risks because at the end of the day what they care most about is keeping their jobs and perks and fancy offices. Meanwhile the nothing-to-lose-and-no-FCC-rules Internet stuff is coming at them at warp speed. Worse yet, the networks have destroyed their own news operations, which was really the only part of their business where they were adding value. And this, by the way, is now the huge gaping opportunity on the Internet. Forget “Ask a Ninja” or “Naked News” or girls in bikinis on trampolines. Someone with money and brains is going to do an Internet version of what Ted Turner did with CNN in the early days of cable. Real content. High quality, good reporters, cheap cameras out in the field. Streaming news and on-demand, so you could go back and watch pieces over and over again, or email them to friends.
Just imagine what you could do in Iraq with twenty ballsy reporters armed with cheap digital cameras and no network brass to censor them. Imagine how you could cover the 2008 elections. Imagine the size of the worldwide audience. Imagine how stunned people would be if, for once, the people doing the news could actually tell you the truth. Imagine if the reporters were smart, funny and wise-ass, instead of Ken Doll robots with strings in the back of their heads. Imagine if you didn’t have to abide by the stupid rules about equal time and fair play. Imagine if you got a handful of sales guys with TV experience (nobody over 40) to bring in the advertising. It’ll happen. Wait and see.
There. I said it. Now I’m going to go watch some Veronica Belmont.