Monday, March 16, 2009

A Second Look at the Second Time

24HoTV2 wrapped up half a day ago and I wanted to throw in some immediate comments in retrospect.

First and foremost, it's easy to forget how thrilling 24HoTV is. Over the passing of time I knew I hadn't hated it, but I forgot how much I liked it. When Special K and I did the dry run a couple of days before (all of which have been erased from the site), the very first thing we both noticed was how charged up we were to be writing the synopses again. About the closest thing I know of that gives me the same raw adrenaline jolt as 24HoTV is being dealt the first hand in a poker tournament.

We changed a few directions this time.

One was to exclude XM radio. While it's true that it's part of the TV offerings, it just doesn't seem like TV to either of us, so we dropped it. That was definitely the right decision.

The thing we did allow was "on demand" (OD) programming -- a feature that Special K didn't have before.

The OD concept is a good one, but unfortunately we were having trouble with it during 24HoTV2. You have to pick a thing to see that starts getting downloaded to your DVR (I guess that's what happens) and after 1% of it loads, you start viewing as the content continues to dribble down. But it wasn't working right. We'd get information that never started; or programs that would begin and then shudder to a stop. Two different times Special K had to re-boot his Internet.

And it's too bad because not only is there a lot of interesting stuff out there, but there's also some new interactive potential. I loved exercising along with the program -- it brings out a whole new possibility for what TV is, what the interaction could be and especially new forms of 24HoTV expression.

We finally had to jettison all OD simply because we couldn't trust it. Special K said an off-handed comment that is prophetically on the mark, "We always said that we wanted computers as easy to use as television. What we didn't know would happen was that TVs would become as complicated as computers."

If you live your life like I do and hardly ever watch TV, when you do it just seems to scream commercialism at you. Like putting your head at the back of a jet engine as you fire it up. It's distasteful and repellent. And worse, no one else seems to notice it.

In the past three years, this only seems to have gotten worse. We had repeats of two different infomercials (Special K drew all four of those) and an additional three more as single plays. If you add the three gem shopping sites we hit, along with the channel that pimps you to buy the Playboy channel, that's a full quarter of 24HoTV that is solely dedicated to sales. And this completely excludes commercials in regular programming, which on observation we see to be at about 30% of air time.

That means when we watch 24HoTV for over 12 hours we are being hit exclusively with commercials.

It's a huge proportion and you definitely feel it. Even the OD part of TV isn't like music -- where you can buy the CD and not have to listen to people advertising things at you.

This number is definitely up from 24HoTV1. I don't know if that's due to the current economic uproar, or it's just the trend of commercialism.

Special K showed an unusual amount of weakness this go 'round. He was fatiguing faster and ignoring me quite a bit more (two different times he didn't even ask for comments on the show that we'd been watching, which in theory, is the whole reason we do it in the first place). Infomercials beat him into enough submission that he suggested dropping them from viewing all together. Two different times he muted the sound on the TV and I had to remind him to turn it back on.

I don't know if we got a bad set of random numbers or not, but overall the programming didn't seem as good as the past. We didn't have anything as strangely compelling as Bluetorch, nor any advertising having a sublime cross of downhomeness paired with the over-the-top cheese like that of Gilad.

For me the high points were the gem channels (I really need my brother to sit in with us on those), the Filipino Christians condemming homosexuality and 80's videos; but overall those don't feel as high as the marks we hit last time.

I haven't decided how I feel about the addition of Twitter yet. Suttonhoo and the Fireplace are both big proponents of it and yet it still feels, very much, to me like teenage girls that like to chatter amongst themselves. This whole idea of making side comments to each other that the rest of the public sees lives somewhere on the border of dumb and rude.

We did, however, pick up a few fans that we wouldn't have otherwise had and we got our hash tag in the top 50 for that 24 hours. There's definitely stuff there that I can exploit for future personal projects.

Birdhead's Twitter scraping robot was spectacular. But here too we were thwarted by technology. After we started hitting Blogger hard, we had to answer captcha challenges -- something the robot couldn't handle. We damn near had to jettison it.

Special K apologized and/or thanked me more than a dozen times for participating in 24HoTV2, but I loved it. There's no one else I'd rather do it with -- and it's certainly not something I'd do on my own.

But let me tell you what, if we're on any sort of trend here, in three years the state of TVs going to be pretty sad. They say that TV viewing audience in the US is losing 2% of its viewership every year. I don't know where that viewership is going - I absolutely don't care - but I do know why.


Blogger Mikkel said...

I can't believe I fucking missed it AGAIN.

1:44 PM  

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