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TBS - Go Get Your Shinebox - OnMedea

TBS - Go Get Your Shinebox

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tbs_logo.pngWhat is it going to take for TBS (or any other Basic Cable channel) to get a little respect? 

I watched the premiere week of Conan and thought it was fine and exactly what I expected (which is a slight disappointment, right?).  (Also, why was it on at 10pm on DirecTV when every advertisement in the world says 11pm?... but I digress.)

The one thing that did stand out was the constant bashing of TBS and Basic Cable in general (I know it is a joke, I get it - I also got it in 1985 when the Basic Cable jokes started).  But times have changed.

I was a proponent of Conan leaving NBC and for Jeff Zucker to be fired for many MANY reasons (including the handling of the Jay/Conan affair and for having anything to do with Ben Silverman.  Please, someone wash everything Ben touched, it's filthy!).

But, I must say, I'm disappointed with the way Conan has handled the transition to TBS.  It was a very difficult decision, I'm sure, but why bash your new home?

Why is Basic Cable still struggling for any sort of respect?

It's all very reminiscent of the scene from "Goodfellas" with Billy Batts (Frank Vincent) and Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci) in the bar.  Imagine Billy Batts is the "Broadcast Networks" and Tommy DeVito is "Basic Cable":

go_get_your_shinebox_3.jpgBasic Cable:  No more shines, Broadcast Networks.
Broadcast Networks:  What?
Basic Cable:  I said, no more shines.  Maybe you didn't hear about it, you've been away a long time.  I don't shine shoes anymore.
Broadcast Networks:  Relax, will ya?  Ya flip out, what's got into you?  I'm breaking your balls a little bit, that's all.  I'm only kidding with ya...
Basic Cable:  Sometimes you don't sound like you're kidding, you know, there's a lotta people around...
Broadcast Networks:  I'm only kidding with you.  I'm breaking your balls, and you're getting fucking fresh.  I'm sorry.  I didn't mean to offend you.
Basic Cable:  I'm sorry, too.  It's okay.  No problem.
Broadcast Networks:  Now go home and get your fuckin' shinebox!
Basic Cable:  Mother fuckin' mutt!  You fucking piece of shit!

If you remember the movie, Tommy then kicked and stabbed Billy about a thousand times, threw him in the trunk of his car and buried him in some disgusting pit.  I'm not saying Basic Cable will completely bury the Broadcast Networks - but it seems to be headed that general direction - so Broadcast Networks had better cut it out with the "shinebox attitude".

And seriously, to watch Conan, you would think the year is 1985 and the only programming on TBS was really bad VHS copies of really bad 1970s movies and a few Body By Jake infommercials.

conan.pngThis is 2010 and Basic Cable Channels are a key driver and profit center helping to keep the Hollywood machine afloat. 

So how about a little respect, Conan?  I know you're only getting $10 million from that suckass TBS that gives you "no budget" (other than a very large one) but come on!

And are you taping this show from some local station in Palmdale or in a very nice soundstage on a very nice Burbank studio lot?  And do you have one blimp to promote your show or zero blimps?

And the last I checked, Mad Men on AMC (Basic Cable) won the Emmy for Best Drama; TBS just paid upwards of $2 million/episode for Big Bang Theory (among others); and the ACE Awards (which was a popular punchline for comedians about FIFTEEN YEARS AGO) haven't been on the air for FIFTEEN YEARS!

I would also argue that with its scripted reruns and movies, TBS and the other top Basic Cable Channels have better daytime programming than any of the Broadcast Station Groups (unless you like Judge shows) and the primetime lineups are equally as creative and catching up in the ratings. 

In fact, Broadcast Networks are deep into the 5 Stages of Grief from "On Death and Dying" - and they have been in denial about Basic Cable for years.  Retrans is one final pathetic attempt to stay competitive.

So, Conan, I'm sorry you are stuck on lowly TBS when all your life you dreamed of being on NBC (now worth negative $690 million on NBC Universal's balance sheet) - but the truth is, in today's media environment, it's not which channel you are on but the programming you produce.  

Remember, even a show shot in a shack in Palmdale can be relevant (and widely seen) today.

jill_kennedy_small.jpgJill Kennedy - OnMedea

P.S. - Why doesn't anyone ever bash MTV for being "Basic Cable"?  Just wondering.

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Ratings Freefall said:

Conan is doomed to drop and drop and drop and settle into a decent rating for TBS but terrible against the Tonight Show. Sorry Coco.

Juan said:

Ohh come on, its just self deprecating humor. Conan loves being on Basic Cable, one basic cable viewer is worth more than one network viewer... and Conan has had more viewers than Leno some nights.

I came to your blog through a link regarding your facebook post. Facebook is not worthless, as a VC funded firm investors want to hype the company for the IPO to be extremely overvalued and then pursue a nice profitable exit strat. Your post or anything for that matter will not stop this from happening. The IPO is going to be huge. The monetizing problem is not a matter of concern for Facebook at this stage, it will be dealt once the company becomes public and it will be tempting for management to be unethical at that point in time. Charging 99 cents would be a death blow to the IPO aspirations. I envy anyone with a nice equity stake on facebook :/

Jill Kennedy said:

Thanks Juan for a great comment. I agree with you that one Basic Cable viewer is more valuable than one Broadcast viewer - that's the point of the blog. I just think Basic Cable networks need to get away from this "we're cheap, we suck" mentality - self deprecating as it is. Imagine if Mercedes starting marketing themselves by saying they're just some crappy car maker with that horrible German engineering.

As for Facebook, we'll have to see. The longer they wait the more bored the 500M will start to get and want to move to the next thing. Who would have thought in the late 1990s that AOL would basically become worthless?

About Jill Kennedy

Jill Kennedy - Blogger - OnMedea Jill Kennedy is an Ivy League MBA / refugee from Lehman Brothers.

Manka Bros. (and the Manka Business Channel) hired her (for a very low sum) to cover the world of media (not the world of Medea) in her own words without corporate interference.

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About Medea

Medea Medea was a real bitch from classical mythology - as most famously dramatized by Euripides.

She was a sorceress and wife of Jason, whom she assisted in obtaining the Golden Fleece. When Jason deserted her, she chopped up their children. One could say, Medea acted as rationally as a major media company.


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