Two ideas struck together today – one in a TV related column in the Charleston Post & Courier, and the other in a Wired magazine story from October called The Long Tail. (The Blog that got me to that was http://longtail.typepad.com/) Both are talking about the mismatch between marketing induced popular demand and actual product sales. In the case of the TV column, the idea is this – even though shows like Cosby were ratings bonanzas for the networks, they are invisible on DVD, apparently because there isn’t much demand by DVD buyers to see the series there. Instead, you see programs that had short runs and were cancelled on DVD – again, apparently because they have a fanbase or following that wanted to see them again. The Long Tail is talking about how markets are increasingly niche based, and the idea of making money from the hit is maybe not the way to go.
I’ve been buying TV series on DVD for awhile – starting with the original Star Trek, which came out on 40 $15 discs released 2 discs at a time. Insane? Well, not if you’re a Trekkie! Now they’ve re-released the series on 3 multi-disc season sets, which take lots less shelf-space and probably have 30 minutes of new content. But I digress … I’ve been looking for series that in my mind are classic and should live in my world forever, and I don’t want to depend on some TV station or network to feed them to me on their schedule. If there were a truly deep (not philosophically) on-demand service that would give me DVD quality instant gratification when I want to watch that particular episode, I wouldn’t need the DVD, but then again I might not have the money either (I hate pay-per-view). A lot of TV series life is one-time pablum, and should be shat out into the broadcast sewer never to be seen again. I mean, really, who wants to see the first season of Fear Factor again? The geniuses that own Fear Factor may have identified a market for that DVD – it certainly isn’t me.
Of the stuff you want or believe, how much is because some marketing company told you to? I’ve read stuff recently to suggest that the Bush administration is using a marketing company to push their agenda on Social Security using highly engineered "town meetings". Lots of people believe Iraq was behind 9/11 – it can’t be because they’ve researched the matter. And lots of people espouse absolute belief in religious ideas because they’ve always been told that the ideas are true – really not much different from marketing. Why bother to think for yourself? My wife accuses me of having no opinions of my own, just those of critics. That’s not true – the critics hated everything I hate, and loved everything I love! Or did I?