Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ryan Seacrest to "Today"? What It Could Mean For The Morning Television Landscape

This is American Idol (scratch that)……This is TODAY on NBC! These could be the words we hear soon from the mouth of Ryan Seacrest if execs at NBC Universal get their wish. According to the Wall Street Journal, Ryan Seacrest is in talks with Comcast/NBC about his new contract which expires early 2012; in the talks one of the jobs that could be added to his resume would be to replace the consummate Matt Lauer as the new co-anchor of “Today” on NBC. A lot of media critics have criticized this move because Seacrest is an entertainment news journalist, something that doesn’t entail as much pressure and rigor as being a news journalist. But if Piers Morgan, Geraldo Rivera and Bryant Gumbel can handle news television coming from other backgrounds in the world of television, then why not Seacrest?

The only problem that “Today” could face is chemistry, something that has already jarred them since Meredith Vieria left. When you watch “GMA” and “Today” at the same time, you can see why “GMA” is starting to pick up in the ratings. On Thursday morning, I kept switching over between the two shows, with both shows having all of their regular anchors in studio and it seems as though on “Today” everyone has become so stiff and boring. It’s not that they don’t get along with each other, but when Matt tries to make a joke it just goes over Ann’s head and she pretends to understand Matt’s sense of humor but the viewer can tell the chemistry isn’t genuine. They just haven’t jelled yet which has affected Al and Natalie’s performance as well.

Over at “GMA” though, they’ve used the “Today” formula of making the viewer feel like they know the anchor team personally and it’s worked for them. There’s a lot of zany, funny features they’ve added like “Play of the Day” and “Pop News Heat Index” that’s helped the team look more human, instead of sticking to serious hard-core news all morning. George Stephanapolous, the guy who people thought would be too serious for “GMA” when he first came in has actually been the bright light of the show because of his unexpected candor and willingness to poke fun with his fellow anchors.

So, what should the “Today” show do to combat the biggest threat to their supremacy yet? Bring in Ryan Seacrest. He has very likeable to the female target audience “Today” is trying to reach and it is very easy for him to find chemistry with co-workers as we’ve seen with Guiliana Rancic on E!, Simon Cowell on “Idol” and Ellen K on his syndicated radio show. There are going to have to be a lot of logistics worked out though. For example, Seacrest would probably have to give up his “Idol” duties after his contract runs out as well as his “E! News” duties and could probably only do awards show red carpet shows for E! Their shouldn’t be a problem with keeping his production company, because Al Roker also operates a successful production company while doing weather for “Today” and the Weather Channel. But his radio gigs would have to be modified.

With a move to New York and a deal with Clear Channel that doesn’t run out in three years, Seacrest would most likely have to work the afternoon shift at Z-100 until his deal runs out. Because of this dilemma, I believe it’s more likely that unless Clear Channel lets Seacrest out of his deal we’ll probably see David Gregory step in for Matt Lauer and then have Seacrest fill in a Lara Spencer-type role and co-host the 2nd and 3rd hour of “Today”. Gregory brings in the news credibility critics are looking for and is a very fun person that the morning shift needs (His love of dancing and Mary J. Blige has been chronicled on the show many times). He doesn’t bring in the female audience that Seacrest could bring in though because of his history with handling politics for MSNBC and “MTP” which is why Comcast/NBC still would need Seacrest for its number 1 most profitable television program.

If “Today” makes this move, you get the best of both worlds because you have a classy journalist who actually seems to have more chemistry and fun with Ann, Al and Natalie when he’s subbing than Matt does and you bring in a Hollywood journalist who has previous connections with the target demo and can handle interviews with celebrity guests and newsmakers as we saw when he interviewed the POTUS on his radio show during the election cycle of 2010. He can moderate pop culture and societal discussions that are held in the “Today’s Professionals” segment and could probably even do a traveling segment similar to Matt Lauer’s “Where in the World”.

There were recently some rumors circulating Hollywood that Seacrest planned to host and launch his own singing competition on NBC and if that were to do well, you can use “Today” as a platform for eliminated contestants to go and get interviewed when eliminated, similar to what “Idol” does with “Live With Kelly” and “Ellen” or what “Survivor” used to do during the Bryant Gumbel-era of “The Early Show”. It would also be kind of awkward to be one of the faces of NBC’s most popular program while hosting a competing New Year’s Eve show on ABC and having to promote your NYE show on the morning show that is your biggest competitor so something would have to be worked out there as well (hopefully they don’t screw over Carson Daly forcing him to move his late-night show and New Year’s Eve show to ABC in exchange for Seacrest).

2012 is going to be an interesting year in terms of transitions on morning television. Whether Lauer stays or moves on to become a talk show host, Regis replacement, cable news host or a correspondent on “60 Minutes” or “Rock Center”; Seacrest is going to become a vital part of keeping “Today” at #1 next year. The question is what role NBC Universal wants him to play. We’ll find out soon.

Wayin Plans to Blow Your Mind :)

Wayin is a new start-up founded by Sun Microsystems founder Scott McNealy that aims to connect users through user-generated, interactive games that can be played while watching live television or big events. I spoke with Wayin’s content manager Bryan Douglass to get more insight into what this new website actually is.

1. How is Wayin different from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn?
- Different... I'd say we're different in many ways, but I'd also suggest we're trying to swim in a different lane.

The truth is this: many in the world dedicate vast amounts of time to those services and have no true way of justifying that expense to their time and the sacrifice made in diverting attention from other efforts. Maybe you covet followers, perhaps you are working more than others in tracking analytics for your site and suggest a rise in traffic is due to time spent on one of those services (or you note decline if you don't)... in general, if you ask the person using Twitter or FB every day why they do so, it's because they feel they need and/or want to.

If you do so by choice in search of personal gratification, or if you do so because you’re professional desires supposedly demand it... wouldn't it be nice to know the true value of that decision, and wouldn't it be optimal if you that decision didn't demand such a significant portion of your day?

At Wayin, we don't want or need huge chunks of your day and we'll provide you with tools and applications to prove your time was well spent. We fit right in to a moment, and for that moment, we give you the power to connect, promote, consider, follow, whatever... and we give you the ability to squeeze that moment for all you might want from it.

I'd suggest that's the most potent difference, but I could go on for a few pages if you want others!

2. How do you guys plan on preventing Wayin from suffering the so-called "MySpace Effect" of worrying about advertising and profit before perfecting the product?

- For starters, I'm not asking Justin Timberlake to buy the while thing to be involved. Seriously... if he would just join in and throw me a follow, we'll be content.

Let's start with this. Feel free to jump on Wayin any time and let me know when you find an ad. Not to suggest there won't be advertising in the future, but the business is not built for the desire of chasing advertising dollars and it will never be a company relying on advertising funds to survive or thrive. If/when the day comes to introduce advertising, it will be to supplement rewards... and not for Wayin, but for Wayin users (like you). It's not of interest to us. That's old school, J... we aren't old school.

Two things. First, we have amazing people on this staff, and none of us are ever happy. We all think this system should be doing more. We all strive to keep it that way, and I sincerely doubt we'll ever change. We already have things in place that are changing the way people conduct their business and we have more coming that will continue to change the way innovative people do business (or pleasure) via social media.

Second, we're going to let Wayin do what it's designed to do: give you a voice. We have our ideas, hopes and desires... we want the same from you. Everything we do is built around listening, in one form or another. We want to evolve that process, we are going to evolve with it, and we'd like to invite the world to join us.

3. How do you plan on integrating live events, games and videos to the site?

- Already done. Next question.

Kidding... though we are already doing this. We have a team of contributors who are hosting Wayin Live Events focused on a variety of events today (sports and otherwise). We have just started to put those features on display... they've evolved significantly in that short period of time and they will continue to do so moving forward (and we have some big announcements coming that will reveal more).

Here's the thing, I would answer that question with one of my own.

What do you want from a live experience?

Just so you know, there's no wrong answer. Whatever comes out of your mouth or fingers in response, we can help and would love to do so. 

And if you don't want our help, that's not a problem either... jump on in and have at it yourself. You'll find you can do whatever you want with Wayin Live Events as well. Whatever your goals may be for participating in or hosting a live event, online or in reality (or both), Wayin can help you reach 'em... and we'll make it fun and teach you and your audience a few things along the way.

4. Do you believe Wayin has the potential to surpass Google+ or Twitter or even Facebook?

- Surpass is a tough metric to quantify. Most in our organization would tell you we want your Wayin widget and portals to reside right next to the big three on any site you visit.

I couldn't agree more... I just hope you want to hit The W first, because The W is giving you something in return.

5. Recently Google+ scored a record for being the fastest growing website ever, what can Wayin learn from their strategy to become more successful?

- I love Google and don't want to diminish their work, at all (as a loyal patron, I'd hate to lose them)... but I don't know that we learned as much as we were reminded of lessons we all should have learned long ago.

Recognizing opportunity is a gift. Ignoring it is a crime.

6. During a live event such as the Super Bowl or the 2012 election, what is your vision of how Wayin will make an impact on society?

- Wayin is going to help you know the teams (and the players, and the managers, and the leagues... and everyone in between). We're going to help the teams and all of those people associated with it know you. We're going to help you all take advantage of that opportunity.

Wayin is going to help you understand the candidates. We're going to help the candidates understand you. And if we have our way, we'll help you take part in the journey and tenure that follows.

We're going to help you all understand the world, and with a little luck, we'll help the world understand all of you. I believe Wayin is an idea that has the power to influence every one of us, and even better, it has the ability to give every one of us influence over power.

You just have to grab it and decide how.

7. How should President Obama, his Republican opponent or even members of Congress use the site to develop a national conversation about the issues that matter to us such as jobs or the economy?

- This would be a great question for our analytics staff... I am not qualified to give that portion of our menu proper context or praise. Yet.

Here... I loved "The West Wing". Probably dating myself a bit, but I love political drama (actually, I love Allison Janney... another story for another time). In that show they used to have theses scenes of the pollsters, these huge groups hidden in a basement who employ a bunch of people to spend hours making random calls to hundreds of voters, gauging reaction to various events and speeches, measuring approval ratings and emotion of the American public.

At it's most basic level... Wayin will take that room and all of those pollsters and put 'em in an iPad or smart phone. We'll take that crop of several hundred polled, we'll push those same questions around the world and turn it into several hundred thousand.  We'll take the data provided by all of those calls, we'll improve it, grow it, integrate it and cross reference it and turn it into a fountain of knowledge never achieved by the original system. Best of all, we'll take the hundreds of hours dedicated to that effort and shrink it into minutes, and we'll take the hours spent tabulating those results and give you new, improved results in real time.

Then, we'll tell you how to do it, where to do it, when to do it and who you should be doing it with the next time around to insure you are achieving your ultimate desires.

8. Why did Wayin decide to be headquartered in Denver rather than a tech capital such as Silicon Valley?

- I live in Denver, and J... I rock.

Actually, CEO Tom Jessiman is from this area. This is his baby and his partners, coming from all over the world, are behind him in making Denver our home. It's a wonderful city my friend, and those of us here understand the lack of desire to leave.

Besides, we've already moved in next door to our industrial neighbors. We're just doing so where it matters. Online.

9.  Is there enough room for Wayin in the social media world which is growing so rapidly and will soon be congested?

- We fit in perfectly. You can be as active or not as desired. The benefits are still there and fruitful, and to be honest... congested or not, if we give people what they like and want and we can show them new things they will like and want, we'll make our own way. 

We aren't followers, as individuals or a team. We couldn't care less about the roads already paved. We want to make our own, and we think you should, too.

10. What needs to be done to create more opportunities for innovators and trendsetters in this new technology era that we live in and how will Wayin play a part in creating those opportunities?

- Simple... we need people to realize THEY are the innovators. You create your own opportunities. At the very least, you identify what you believe to be an opportunity and you either give it a go or you don't. No one is going to create anything for you, J. There wasn't anyone out there screaming for a better search engine... the folks now known as Google believed there was opportunity there and they went for it. That's been their business model since: if they believe there is opportunity to do something new, innovative, or better, they have people who can envision that with them and who want to make the best of it.

Wayin will definitely play a role in that. We're all about helping people and organizations seek and identify opportunity, and I would bet we can help in suggesting how you might attack those opportunities. If anything, we'll be there to provide clarity... wherever you may be looking and in many place you might not.

11. I know it's available to use now but when will WayIn be fully operational?

- Fully operational now, but understand... we will NEVER be complete. The Wayin you see today is a significantly evolved from the Wayin we released several weeks ago. The Wayin you'll experience tomorrow will be different than the Wayin you experience today.

I hope we are never "fully" operational. If I ever reach a point where I don't feel frustration about something we are NOT doing, I should quit.

12. And finally, what should have been my first question: What is WayIn?

- For me... Wayin is a new way to be heard, a new way of hearing others, and a new way to accept, entertain and incorporate it all into every aspect of your life. I have no doubts it will mean different things to different people... that's what Wayin means to me.

Visit WayIn now at http://www.wayin.com 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Mr. Stern, Lose the Ego. You're Wrong on Chris Paul.

When we found out last Saturday morning that the NBA and it’s players had finally come to a deal to end the lockout, we knew that these next two weeks of transactions and free agency would be the most exciting and intense start to a new year we have seen since…….well, last year but I don’t think anyone anticipated the drama that we’ve seen in just 1 day, which ironically is the day before training camp opens. Shane Battier confirmed on his Twitter page around 10 AM that he would sign with the Miami Heat, but interestingly, the Heat weren’t the team causing the most controversy yesterday.

We're taking our talents to South Beach (scratch that) Southern California!
Later in the day, around 11AM Yahoo! Sports reported that the Celtics were in the lead to acquire Chris Paul and wouldn’t mind renting him out for one year to try and win a title, but all of a sudden out of nowhere the LA Lakers rose from the ashes that were left after losing to the Dallas Mavericks in the playoffs last year and ended up securing a 3-way trade that would bring Chris Paul to LA and make this one of the greatest days in SoCal sports history after Albert Pujols left the St. Louis Cardinals to join the LA Angels of Anaheim........
Read the rest at NBA Trade Buzz now, please? :))

Search Here!!