Last year, TV viewing for the Emmys hit an incredible low. The Golden Globes and Grammys each achieved their worst ratings in the past five years. The prognosis for this weekend’s Oscars is also weak, based on major films that failed to generate knockout revenues at the box office.
For those of us toiling in Rock Radio at the moment, the trend looks eerily familiar. How do the “experts” explain this multi-media ratings swoon? Some blame the product (especially in the case of the Grammys, we can all relate). But others feel that while these shows are consistently star-studded, they’re also predictable. Nothing especially weird or surprising occurs. The speeches are either poorly prepared or they’re riddled with clichés. Like a once clever morning show that now executes the same bits day after day, awards shows are similarly mundane.
That element of surprise is something that format radio has been lacking for years. It’s what Lee Abrams is attempting to inject into XM, what the Jack format does every quarter-hour, and what our stations are going to have to figure out how to generate. As Seth Godin reminds us in “Purple Cow,” playing it safe in 2005 is risky. Just producing a consistent, predictable radio station may be the quickest way to generating boredom, malaise, and tune-out.
Good luck, Chris Rock. The Academy was wise to hire him to emcee. Hopefully, we’ll be treated to an Oscars show that has a few “Purple Cows.”