Be Less Stupid, Reviews / Media, The Latest — March 18, 2014 at 4:21 PM

Louis CK Helps Reveal The Secret Why Broadcast TV Is Awful


The new TV series This vs That is giving away the entire 60 minute first episode: FREE.



Now, before I reveal the secret why broadcast TV is awful and how it relates to Louis CK… I have another story to tell you, first.

In the one-hour premiere of This vs That, the fastest method to board 100 people onto a 757 airplane will be revealed. Plus, in a second experiment, This vs That will reveal which BBQ fuel is hotter, propane or natural gas. It’s an episode that’s been called “hilarious” and “revolutionary” and been featured on NBC News, CNN, Yahoo, BBC, HuffPost, CNN, CBS and FOX. You can see this episode free by clicking the picture to your right!

This vs That Creator, Jon Hotchkiss
This vs That Creator, Jon Hotchkiss

As the creator of This vs That, I have been one of the leading forces in a next-generation movement away from network distribution of television content… and towards a 100% independent model of distribution, one where the creator of a program not only only pays for its production, but then also owns it, too… plus, distributes the content, as well. Under this new model, all of this is done without interference or financial backing from any of the major media players, meaning the TV networks… and hubs like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. Nor, is their any involvement from any advertiser what-so-ever.

This vs That is 100% independently financed. And 100% advertiser FREE. The site has no ads on it. The shows run without commercial interruption.

So, why is independence so important?  

All of the media outlets have a secret plan to ruin TV.

All of the media behemoths / content distributors have conflicts of interest of one sort or another. And even worse for viewers, all of the media behemoths / content distributors have a secret they don’t want you to know. A secret that ruins TV.

Again, I’m going to reveal the secret that ruins TV– But first, here’s how it relates to Louis CK.

Did you see Louis CK’s independently distributed stand up special? The one he sold on his website for 5 bucks? You probably did. 200,000 people paid $5 bucks for it. So, whatlouis-ck360 does it mean for Louis CK to have done his special “independently?” What is means is that Louis CK booked the theater to perform in, hired the company to record and stream the video to Louis’ website, where fans could watch. He not only controlled the means of production… but also the content, as well.

  • Under this scenario, Louis was free to say whatever he wanted… to do whatever he wanted on the show… and best of all, he got to keep nearly all the money. And why shouldn’t he? The jokes are his. He wrote them. He also is the one that performs them. And, if people decide they don’t like what he’s saying, he takes the heat for that.
  • Now, lets say that Louis’ special was on NBC. He would no longer be able to say whatever he wanted or do whatever he wanted. There’d be constraints. Constraints, I’d argue, that would have made Louis’ special… less good. Less funny. Less pointed. More… sucky. Constraints that also make your favorite TV shows less good and more sucky.
  • In Louis’ case, if he was on NBC, he’d be forced to adjust his language. NBC can’t broadcast Louis saying “fuck”  “shit” “cunt” over and over in prime time. 

    NBC can’t broadcast Louis saying “fuck”  “shit” “cunt” over and over in prime time.

     And neither would Comedy Central or HBO. Although cable channels police themselves, they aren’t forced by law to adhere to the same standards as broadcast networks. It has to do with now arcane determinations about how a program is distributed — the networks, presumably “free over the air” — the “people’s air — and cable channels, which deliver their signal via satellite or cables similar to telephone lines. The broadcast networks have to adhere to FCC rules. Cable does not.
  • Anyway — back to Louis CK. On NBC, he’d be forced to make sure none of his material was overtly offensive to the broadcaster’s advertisers. For example, if Louis had a bit about how much he hates the Ford F-150 Tundra 4X4 truck, that he thinks that truck is the reason people have AIDS and why babies go hungry around the globe… He wouldn’t be able to tell those jokes.
  • Plus, in advance of his special on NBC, Louis would have had to negotiate a deal for his fee. Let’s say he agrees to perform for 20 bucks. And the network is happy to pay him 20 bucks. Assuming that’s the deal he’d made, he’d make 20 bucks whether 5 people watched the show or if 100 million people watched. HOWEVER — if he was distributing the show himself, in the first instance, all he’d get paid is 25 bucks. In the second, he’d make 500 million. Not only that, if he was on NBC, he’d likely have to give up the vast preponderance of ownership on the comedy special. Which means, NBC could air it over and over, without paying Louis any more money. They could put it on Hulu. They could sell it to an airline. They could air it all over the globe. Millions more people would see the show. And Louis would get nothing.

So — what made Louis’ independently distributed stand up special so successful? Is it because he’s hilarious? That’s a huge part of it. Yes. But, it’s not everything.

IS BEING FUNNY ENOUGH? Even more important than being funny, I’d argue, was Louis’ unique ability to market the show. Because marketing has really been the thing networks do best. Networks can reach millions upon millions of people with just a few commercials. Everyone else? Not so much. However, Louis also has… and had the ability to reach millions of people to let them know he was doing something new. Something cool. Something different. In advance, he appeared on the Late Night shows, on The Daily Show, I think the Today Show, podcasts, and did countless radio and print interviews.  And why were all these media outlets interested in giving Louis FREE publicity for his stand up comedy special — which grossed 1 million dollars? Because he’s hilarious. Because he has a TV series on FX. Because he’s famous. And, these media outlets write stuff about famous people. AND Louis’ story was good. No, great. He was doing something unique! Something new! He was undermining the entire 75 year tradition of the broadcast & cable networks getting rich off the back of creators…. simply because they had the means to distribute & market shows.

Click to see This vs That's 1-hour premiere, FREE.
Click to see This vs That’s 1-hour premiere, FREE.

PAY ATTENTION: However, and this is the important part! So, pay attention! From now on, content creators like comedians and TV show writers/producers don’t need to own their own satellites or to have wired cable into every home in America in order to deliver their work into people’s homes and onto people’s TVs, lap tops, tablets and mobile devices. All that’s needed to distribute content around the globe… is access to a wi-fi signal.

I’m going to repeat myself. That wi-fi signal is the game changer.

Wi-fi and the internet are the tools content creators need in order to make what they want, to write what they want, to say what they want, to tell the types of stories they want, without the constraints put on them by the broadcast and cable companies. That’s good for the creators. And even better for the viewers, who will now be able to get more content, more unique content, more niche content, more authentic content, and better story telling… because creators will be freed up to make something they’re passionate about. Something that isn’t watered down. Or dumbed down. Or homogenized in order to appeal to the broadest audience.

rocky-road-ice-cream-2-525Think of it like this. When creative people set out to say make a TV show – or write a stand up special — they set out to make something akin to Rocky Road ice-cream. That’s chocolate ice-cream with chunks of nuts & chocolate in it and swirls of marshmallow and caramel, too. Creative people want to make something that is special. That has depth of flavor. That surprises you even after you’ve already had a few bites.

Why Broadcast TV is Awful

HERE COMES THE REVEAL: Unfortunately — and I’m about to reveal the secret the broadcast and cable networks don’t want you to know — when the networks and cable channels get this rich, creamy, chunky, delicious carton of Rocky Road, the first thing they do is surgically remove the nuts, the chocolate chunks and all the swirls of marshmallow and caramel. Why? Why the fuck would the broadcast and cable networks destroy Rocky Road ice cream to give their audience plain old chocolate ice-cream? Because their goal isn’t to give the audience a unique creamy chunky carmeliscious treat. No. Their goal is to give the audience something that the fewest of them won’t hate.

And that’s the secret. TV networks, by their very definition, are “broadcasters”… they are trying to attract the broadest audience. And to attract the broadest audience, you have to appeal to the largest segment of the population… while offending the least number of people.

PopUpImageSo — what does all of this have to do with This vs That? This vs That is 100% independent. It’s unique. It isn’t homogenized. It isn’t dumbed down. It has chocolate chunks and peanuts in it. And marshmallow & carmel  swirls, too. Is it for everyone? No it is not. HOWEVER — for those it is aimed at, you can take comfort in the knowledge that the show is authentic, features world class scientists, contains no bias, represents the unique voice of it’s creator and wasn’t made with any compromises. Plus, it’s been made way way better by the performances of the three gifted and hilarious hosts, Brad Sherwood, Chris Tallman and Mark DeCarlo.

Oh, and one last thing. Being independent means we have very few bucks to market the show. And by “very few,” I mean we have NO money to market the show. And this

Miss USA 2011, Alyssa Campenella
Miss USA 2011, Alyssa Campenella

problem is compounded by the fact that none of the late night shows, or the Daily Show, want to have me on to talk about This vs That or the fact that we’re giving away the premiere episode… FREE. I’m not famous. I’m only a little bit funny and don’t have an Emmy winning TV series. In fact, I’ve lost at the Emmys 11 times. So, I have to do things that get people’s attention in different ways — in order to tell them about This vs That. And our FREE premiere. In this instance, I put Louis CK’s name in the headline… I promised I’d reveal a secret and I put in a picture of the beautiful Miss USA, 2011 Alyssa Campenella, and a different photo of the hosts holding adorable dogs and cats. Everyone loves dogs & cats, right? And if this works, next time, I’m doing to explain what naked breasts, vaginas and sorority girls on spring break have to do with hybrid and combustion engines.

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