Why Network TV is On Its Way Out: The Roast Beef Example

January 29, 2008 at 5:18 am 1 comment

In Massachusetts, there’s a weird culinary phenomenon happening.

There are a ton of ma & pa roast beef sandwich specialty shops. According to Google Maps, 6,163. (Quick plug for my local beef: Billy’s Famous Roast Beef of Wakefield.)

When I go to one of these local places, I always get my sandwich the same way- “regular beef, cheese, pickle, mayo, & (bbq) sauce,” otherwise known as a “regular beef, 3-way with pickle.” The “regular beef 3-way” is the most popular way people order their sandwich, as there is no such thing as a 2-way, or 4-way.

My friend Sean gets his sandwich with mustard, mayo – and salt, a combination I would never dare to experiment with.

What does this story have to do with network television?

Network television doesn’t ask you what toppings you want on your roast beef sandwich- it just gives you whatever is most popular. In this case, both Sean and I would get a regular beef 3-way. I’d be mostly satisfied while Sean would not be satisfied at all.

Cable television always asks how you want your sandwich prepared. In this case, Sean and I would get the sandwich tailored exactly how we want it.

Which sandwich shop are we most likely going to return to?

Cable may have less viewership than network television, but which is more likely to have a specific viewing pattern?

(Author note: Yes, a couple Arby’s are in the MA listing, but compare that 6,000+ to the search “roast beef” in “virginia” … I’ve clicked through to page 11 and there is nothing but Arby’s. The 6,000+ may not be 100% ma & pa, but don’t be fooled – roast beef is king on the north and south shore.)

UPDATE: From Mediaweek – NBCU’s Zucker: TV Business Must ‘Reinvent the Wheel (Hey, Big Z – the wheel isn’t broken. It’s just turning different.)

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. pakipics  |  January 29, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    Technology is changing rapidly and the evolution of Internet and Live Streaming has just squeezed all the TV channels into one site.

    (comment edited by author)

    Reply

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