Charles Gibson came to speak at a small luncheon I attended at school on Thursday. Firstly, he’s a funny guy. More importantly though, he pointed to some key issues facing ABC that I wanted to touch upon.
Aside from asking us how much time he should devout to the McCain/NYT issue in his Thursday night World News clip, he started out the conversation by simply highlighting the fact that TV, and especially TV news programs were losing viewership. People were flocking to new sources of media, and that his show’s average viewer age has been increasing for the last several years, resting now at a solid 58 years old.
The few minutes we talked about this, and an instance as he was walking out the door, tells me that ABC (and all the others!) have a long way to go. He told us about a student at UPenn who had said to him “We’ll get to it when we get to it.” I think Charlie (was that presumptuous of me?) understood that comment was way off. He had interpreted it as that she was saying that some day when she and her cohorts get older that they’ll get back to the TV.
Yeah but, they won’t. That’s why viewership is getting older and declining. People are moving to and staying in new media, and they’re not coming back. So what does that mean? You either need to figure out a way to get them back, or need to embrace the change and get into new media (a decent article on the topic in Brandweek). That doesn’t mean hiring a few bloggers (I have a LOAD of comments on this move by pretty much all of the TV stations, but maybe I’ll save them for another post) or posting some videos.
So he wanted ideas, and since it’s a school of International Relations, when it came time for Q&A at the end, no one wanted to talk about new media, which is fine, it was a great Q&A session. On his way out, I walked up to Charlie and said “Sir, thank you for speaking, we really enjoyed it… hey, if I have a few ideas about ABC and the use of new media, how can I get them to you?”
His response? He gave me “his” snail mail address in NYC. Does anyone find that ridiculously ironic? And to boot, I’m fairly certain he would never ever see my letter. It would be opened by an intern and thrown in a pile, or else my ideas would be implemented and I would never hear about it.
But mainly this shows how out-of-touch the network is. There isn’t an understanding of how the “younger” viewers or potential viewers work. We don’t want to go online and log into ABC to read blogs (although I did just go on to check them out, they’re informative…). You need to make it better than that. I don’t want to send your station a letter with my ideas, I want you to come get them from me (or I’m just going to tell someone else). You need to tell me why I should be listening to World News with Charles Gibson each night at 6:30 when I’m usually doing work in the other room.
I could go on, but I think you all get it.
And so, Charles Gibson, if you’re out there, I have some ideas, come and get them.