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Re: Kids programming (was Re: " Captain Bob" Cottle, RIP)

>Interesting... Forty years ago, when TV stations did kid shows, I doubt
>whether anybody even thought of asking how the stations could justify
>programming aimed at an audience that did not fill out Arbitron diaries.
>Now, everybody wonders how Radio Disney can succeed because the listeners
>are too young to be given Arbitron diaries. Is it that forty years ago, it
>was assumed that parents were sufficiently involved in their kids' TV
>watching to correctly note when the kids watched "Captain Bob?" And is it
>that, now, the parents are assumed to be so busy that they neither know nor
>care whether their kids are watching TV or building 30 bombs to blow up
>their school? 

I suspect the real reasoning is much, much simpler than that...

Forty years ago, there wasn't much syndicated programming available.
Satellites delivering programming simply didn't exist, IIRC.  Stations
had to fill up television time with something - anything - that would
attract advertisers.  Ratings weren't as much the issue as was filling
up the time - heck, in many cities, there was still only one station.
But in the mid-day hours, the only people watching were housewives and
kids.  Well, the housewives had their soaps earlier in the day, so when
the kids came home, why not give them something to watch, too?

And it wasn't as if the local children's programming of forty years ago
was exactly a sterling example of educational TV, either.  A lot of it
was just old cartoons, strung together with whomever they could find
willing to host the show.  Some of it was a little bit better than that,
but not by much.  I imagine a lot of parents back then would have preferred
having their kids go outside and play, rather than sit inside watching
"that junk".  (I know my parents did... :-)

Today, when there's so much syndicated fare available, and lots of stuff
up on the bird, not to mention all the nationwide cable channels, a local
TV station would be committing financial suicide to run a local kids'
show, what with the costs of the host and the camera crew and so on, as
compared to the costs of running any of the other choices available.
"Back in the day", the stations didn't have any other choices; they do
today.  It's as simple, and fundamental, as that.

Radio Disney is, well, Disney.  Their aim isn't Arbitron ratings; they're
looking to capture "mindshare" for the Disney brand among the youth of
today.  Their measure of success isn't the same - and doesn't have to be
the same - as that which drives adult-formatted commercial stations.  It's
sheer marketing cleverness, something at which the Disney folks have always
known how to do.

It's all about the bottom line.  And it's *always* been about the bottom
line, from day one of commercial broadcasting, be it radio or TV.  Follow
the money, and the rest makes perfect sense.

- -Shawn Mamros
E-mail to: mamros@mit.edu