CS: Do you think YouTube is a threat to broadcast TV?
ES: I think it's both a threat and a developmental tool, the way sound was, or color, or TV itself.
CS: But if the market is heading toward YouTube, then will TV shows will be forced to head towards shows that are more YouTube-like, the way pay cable has pulled TV in a direction of being more serial, darker, fouler-mouthed? Or will TV shows be forced to move in the opposite direction, the way movies moved to widescreen and 3D to give the audience something they couldn't get on TV?
ES: I think it's a little early to tell what impact it will have, because the marketing model doesn't exist yet. How does anyone make money with YouTube? That paradigm has not come down.
CS: Do you watch/are you aware of Canadian TV? Do you think the broadcast audience will tolerate shows set outside the US?
ES: I definitely think they'd tolerate them, but I don't know how they get sold in the marketplace. I think audiences would love to see shows about other places. I have consulted on a few Canadian shows. I've had some clients with shows on the CBC. They do seem to have slightly different concerns -- they're more focused on character and story than on marketing. I find that refreshing. They also seem to be more interested in getting the writer's perspective rather than telling the writer how to fix it. But I guess their shows are financed differently.
CS: The CBC is the pubcaster, so they're less about the advertisers. On the other hand there's a mandate to have shows with a million viewers. And in a country of 22 million anglophones that's swamped with American TV shows, getting a million viewers is pretty hard. So they are audience driven. But they probably care more about the number of eyeballs than the demographics of that audience.
ES: That explains it, because story and character appeals to an audience driven show, not a marketing driven show. Look at cable. Cable shows are about the number of subscribers. So you see stronger characters and story lines. The shows are less about spectacle and more about story. Broadcast TV in the US is market driven, not audience driven. It's a distinction that has powerful consequences.
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