Tuesday, April 22, 2014

"Today" Gets It's Own Radio Station As Ryan Seacrest Leaves Show

"The Today Show" is using every trick in the bag to try and draw enough viewers to defeat "GMA". Beginning in June, "Today" will simulcast it's east coast and west coast feeds live on Sirius/XM along with Hoda and Kathie Lee's hour. This is a great move because:
  • There are over 40 million subscribers to Sirius/XM. "Today" now has the ability to build up name recognition among listeners who may be channel surfing and may not normally consume "Today Show" content. If they're satisfied with what they hear, they could possibly tune in on TV during mornings when they're at home.
  • "The Today Show" viewers who have to go to work will now have the ability to listen while they're on the road.
There are certain shows which have become franchises almost as big as the networks they're on. "The Tonight Show," "The Simpsons," "SportsCenter," etc. "Today" is on that list despite it's current ratings woes.

We've already reached the day where television franchises, through websites and apps, have become a 24-hour a day experience. This radio station helps enhance that experience and it can be used as a stepping stone to add on even more original programming based around the show.
  • To stay relevant, the show needs to continue to delve into other platforms which help viewers connect with "Today" personalities even more. "Today" is already doing this through Kathie Lee's podcast, Al's Weather Channel morning show, the 2 a.m. "Today" late night re-air of the fourth hour, Savannah's pregnancy blog and the constant tweeting being done by all of their hosts. But until they're able to gain a comfortable lead again, there is always more which can be done.
    • This radio station opens the door for more podcasts, in-depth interviews and behind the scenes access featuring the hosts as well as various guests/musicians who pop in to the studio.
    • "Today" also has the ability to create a developmental ground for potential future 7 a.m. hosts to flourish in. Willie Geist, Carson Daly and Tamron Hall could all host individual chat shows or weekly group chat shows which would help them all get know each other even more in a format that isn't as time constrained as television. It could even help in developing more chemistry for the small screen.
    • "Today" could even try to spinoff different segments into shows of their own to see if they have future potential outside of the four hour block (syndication on TV or a radio future).
This supplemental programming produced for radio would also add hours of extra content onto the "Today" website/app, which helps provide it with more pizzaz and freshness (assuming there would be a video component to all of these radio shows).

This could be a great opportunity if "Today" uses it wisely. According to a NYT piece written about the deal, execs at Sirius and NBC are thinking the same way I'm thinking:
Mr. Greenstein (Sirius/XM President) said he could foresee expanding the programming in the future, citing the example of potentially having bands that play a couple of numbers on the show stay around and offer two or three more songs for the fans outside in Rockefeller Plaza. Those could also play on the Sirius feed.
This radio station would even be a great platform for contributors of the show to thrive in if they don't have enough time to talk about a certain topic on the show. The newest morning show strategy is to grab as many contributors as possible (i.e. Strahan, Reali, Daly, Hall etc.) and a side job on the radio may be the perfect incentive that makes a contributor decide to join "Today" rather than "GMA".

Speaking of contributors, it looks like "Today" may be losing one of them soon. Ryan Seacrest is in talks to extend his deals with American Idol and Clear Channel but it looks like he'll be stepping away from NBCUniversal in terms of an on-air role. This would mean that he would no longer serve as a red carpet host for E! and he would no longer contribute stories to "Today".

Ryan Seacrest Horizontal - H 2012

This won't be a major loss for the show because Seacrest hasn't had enough time in his day to file many reports anyway (his last story on "Today" was during the Olympics). It is also expected that Seacrest and his company will continue to produce shows and specials for the networks of NBCU. But it makes you wonder if he's willing to step away from an on-air position at NBCU because he's angling for a role on "GMA," the hottest brand on morning TV right now.

The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that Seacrest has had discussions with ABC. He already has an established relationship with the network given the fact that he's the first face seen on ABC at the beginning of every new year.

Could Clear Channel be the mediator that solidifies a deal between the two parties? IHeartRadio already has a deal with ABC to co-produce the "GMA" summer concert series and DJs from Clear Channel stations across the country already appear on "GMA" every Friday.

Not to mention, Clear Channel will be Seacrest's partner/financial backer over the next couple of years for any TV show/movie/online show/concert/radio show he wants to produce. Wouldn't it make more sense to serve as the main figurehead/liason between your financial backer and their TV partner of choice rather than working part-time at your financial backer's TV partner's rivals?

Here's an even more bolder question. Should Seacrest reach a deal with ABC for a role on "GMA," could he possibly angle for Stephanapolous' throne once Stephy leaves? It's a longshot but who knows?

SIDENOTE: To clarify, Seacrest has talked with ABC about hosting "something". What that something is, we don't know. I'm just assuming it's a correspondent role on "GMA" because there's nothing else on ABC's lineup at the moment which fits him and "GMA" has a very close relationship with Seacrest's partners in crime, Clear Channel.

Sources: NYT, The Hollywood Reporter

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Michael Strahan Is The Black Ryan Seacrest

Five years ago, if you looked up Michael Strahan on Google, it would probably say "Michael Strahan defensive prowess" or "Michael Strahan monster defensive end." Coming soon though, it'll probably say "Michael Strahan media mogul."

Who would've ever thought the Super Bowl champ would attempt to dominate television in such a short period of time? Strahan is in negotiations to host "Good Morning America" according to CNN's Brian Stelter.

Strahan is adding his male presence to "GMA"'s anchor team which is filled with a lot of estrogen after Sam Champion and Josh Elliott's respective departures. Because he has other obligations at 9 a.m. with his own talk show co-hosted by Kelly Ripa, Strahan will mostly anchor during the 7 a.m. hour.

Strahan also won't be working for five days a week. 

MY THEORY: I would imagine he'll be off on Mondays and/or Fridays due to his NFL on Fox obligations. Strahan usually hosts "LIVE with Kelly and Michael" on Monday mornings during the NFL season despite having to fly the red-eye between L.A. and NYC which suggests to many that he'll do the same with "GMA" but I'm sure it'll be much easier to come into work at 8 a.m. to be on time for his 9 a.m. show than having to come in at 6 a.m. or earlier for "GMA". 

It could also work the opposite way with "GMA" wanting Strahan in-house on Mondays (with an off-day in the middle of the week) to break down Sunday's NFL action in a watercooler-style format to give viewers some pointers on what they need to know as they go to work.

In terms of what role Strahan will play, he'll most likely take over the "Play of the Day" segment and he may tape celebrity interviews to be used for the 8 a.m. hour. I also wouldn't be surprised to see him file feature reports on inspirational stories which are trending or which "GMA" hopes to get trending.

It's very interesting and ironic how Kelly Ripa has always been the non-newsy talk show host which both morning shows pursued over the years and that her co-host ended up being the person who accepted a morning news show role. It's being reported by Deadline that Ripa was also offered a role on "GMA" but she declined (TMZ hinted that Ripa could eventually join the team).

WHY DOES "GMA" WANT STRAHAN? 1. He's a man's man. He played professional football and provides support for George Stephanopoulos. Women love to hear other women who share their point of view but something women love even more, although they won't admit it: a man's perspective (it works vice versa as well).

2. He's a voice women trust. "Kelly and Michael"'s ratings are the highest they've ever been because the ladies find Strahan very appealing to their tastes. As "GMA" continues it's struggle to keep the #1 spot vs. "Today," it's important they associate themselves with other members of the ABC family who viewers trust and already watch frequently. This is also why there is so much cross-promotion between "DWTS" and "GMA." Even though "DWTS" isn't the highest rated reality show on TV anymore it still has enough viewers and social media support to garner influence.

3. Diversity. Strahan's move assures "GMA" that they will continue to be the most diverse show on morning television: an African-American male, three women including one who is African-American and gay, a Greek male.

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR "K&M"? As far as I know, "K&M" will stay the way it is. If I were ABC though, I would suggest bringing on Neil Patrick Harris and/or Anderson Cooper as the permanent once-a-week co-host/first substitute co-host on call. NPH is on Broadway while Cooper's daytime show was cancelled a while back which means both are available for the limited time needed. 

Both men have great chemistry with Ripa and maintain a regular job which means co-hosting the show for one day a week wouldn't be a big deal (as long as their employers approve). It'll give fans a sense of nostalgia back to the days when NPH and/or Cooper filled in more often and Mr. Strahan won't become too strained from all his commitments. A strained Strahan would mean a less entertaining Strahan which puts the show in jeopardy.

WHY IS STRAHAN A MEDIA MOGUL? Because this is not the end of announcements to come from the Hall-of-Famer. Strahan recently started his own entertainment production company/agency with other partners who represent people such as Tony Gonzalez (ironically, his company brokered Gonzalez's deal with Strahan's rival show, "CBS NFL Today") and Deion Sanders. The company also produced a pilot for Amazon, plans to produce other movies/TV shows and represents music artists.

Coming soon, Strahan will be executive producing and hosting a sports version of the Kids Choice Awards on Nickelodeon. He'll also be producing and hosting a primetime game show on a major broadcast network to be announced (probably ABC) according to Sports Business Journal.

WILL STRAHAN LEAVE NFL ON FOX? Only time will tell but I doubt it. Fox put him in charge of presenting the Vince Lombardi Trophy during this year's Super Bowl and they've also used him for interview specials on Fox Sports 1. Fox definitely sees a bright future with Strahan and would rather share him with ABC (just as they do with Seacrest) than lose him. 

Although if Strahan ever decides to leave Fox because of the travel distance (I doubt it'll ever work the other way around with Fox dumping Strahan), there's a four letter network with major football rights that's owned by ABC's parent company which could perfectly fit Strahan in right away.

As of now though, Strahan seems comfortable with working for Fox Sports and I would expect him to stay because he's being primed to eventually take over Terry Bradshaw's lead studio analyst role. I'm sure he also has a lot of loyalty towards Fox after they picked up his sitcom and he could probably use Fox as leverage whenever his ABC deals expire (a national 9 a.m. show on Fox doesn't impede on their current local morning news structure).

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