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Thursday, June 3, 2004

tv losing in the attention market

one of the oldest threads you’ll find woven through this blog is the idea of the attention market… generally approached from the perspective of the music business, with which i’m most familiar. but, the attention market isn’t limited to music, in fact, it is, by definition, everything you do with your time.

so to pick up the thread (this is the theme of the morning, the thread up-picking), i direct your attention (ahem) to an article that appeared in the new york times at the end of march. behold, the impact of the constrained attention-market on the business of television…

Leisure Pursuits of Today’s Young Man [new york times, march 29, 2004]

The television industry was shaken last October when the ratings from Nielsen Media Research showed that a huge part of a highly prized slice of the American population was watching less television. As the fall TV season began, viewership among men from 18 to 34 fell 12 percent compared with the year before, Nielsen reported. And for the youngest group of adult men, those 18 to 24, the decline was a steeper 20 percent.

the times provides the comfortable little personal anecdote to make the story relevant to all their readers….

Leisure Pursuits of Today’s Young Man [new york times, march 29, 2004]

Television, he says, is bogged down by commercials and teasers that waste his time.

i’ve got my own set of issues with television – and at the top of that list is the increasingly animated and screen real-estate-consuming overlay teasers that channels are imposing on my eyeballs. i’m annoyed with a station-id logo superimposed over a corner of the screen – these randomly-inserted animated masterpieces of self-promotion and viewer-annoyance are more than i’ll put up with. then there’s the issue of “faking up” news or documentary programming with recreations that aren’t explicitly labelled as recreations, and the “reality-ing up” of programmig that’s “real” except for the fact that it’s socially engineered and professionally edited. but i digress… the point is that i’m not watching much tv either, because television has gone out of its way to annoy me.

…and i’m not a big sports fan (we all have our quirks, i know..), but i was impressed to find wisdom from the field of sports as well. mark gets it. and he’s got a blog so i can link to it, which is nice. i’m not sure how far out of the way sports franchises are going to annoy their fans, but i imagine they’re putting at least as much effort into it as the television people.

…and i’m not buying a lot of “major label” music, because the major labels have gone out of their way to annoy me.

i’m going to suggest, on the record, in public, that these businesses (and all the others that depend on my limited attention) stop trying to find ways to annoy me, and instead focus on making me feel comfortable devoting my precious attention in their general direction. just a thought…

google, that means you too… i remember back around… 2000 or so (?), google added a little bit of code that brought the google home page “forward” automagically and refreshed the page at some relatively short interval. i found that exceedingly annoying, since i tended to keep a search engine window tucked away on the screen somewhere for handy internet searches, and it started “popping up” on me. i told them they were annoying me, and i’m sure i wasn’t the only one that complained, because they fixed it within a day or so.

be careful out there… you can have me for life, or until you annoy me too much, whichever comes first.

posted by roj at 8:02 am