Food for Thought – May 4th, 2015

Good morning, friends. As the weather turns warmer in many locales and fights to stay cold in others, I hope you are all well or at least on the way to better days ahead.

Though new words will arrive here later today/early tomorrow, here are some intriguing words that can help you get on with the day.

Sports:

My favorite dispatch from this weekend came from VICE’s John Saward, a former colleage of mine at the now-defunct Norman Einstein’s (Alex Wong at Steven LeBron did an entire series about my former team in 2012). Where I discussed my Las Vegas experience 8 years ago for TSFJ, Saward brilliantly dug into the absurdities as they were happening.

The part that got me:

They are not here for Mayweather-Pacquiao, they are here because a Thing Is Happening. An “of the Century.” The fight is the amplifier. The excuse. The fuse. It is the rumbling volcano for the village to dance and chant around. A semi-circle of news vans idles at every hotel entrance, cameramen leaning against the doors, waiting for something to happen, waiting to get the hell out of there.

When the truth hits you, when you’ve witnessed it many times, when it actually hits you because it angers you… Hot. Damn.

Also, a simple message. If you’re watching ESPN’s First Take, the same message about cable news and the like applies for that show and the Twitter accounts of anything in relation to it.

Oh, Skip and Stephen A. got you again? Why are you doing this to yourself? For the love of sports, stop it.

Television:

Many of you are lamenting the end of Mad Men, AMC’s critical darling/juggernaut which will air its long-anticipated series finale on May 17th. I say critical darling before juggernaut because truthfully, it’s a show whose hype exceeded its viewership for quite a long time (as you gather, I wasn’t a fan of the show). Thanks to said hype and Netflix, Mad Men grew in stature and performance in the passing seasons.

Yet, as I said often outside of the work circles – which people really don’t do much of in the media world, actually talk to people not in the business –  AMC will have a harder time duplicating the success of its much-bigger hit and cable’s most watched television show, The Walking Dead.

Ad Week profiles AMC’s plans going forward, and as you’ll see, the network is leaning on a lot of spinoffs. At some point when some of those flounder, it’s going to need more purely original programs.

Throughout the 2000s, TNT, USA and to some extent, FX, fashioned themselves as the mavericks, fighting broadcast networks by billing themselves as “broadcast replacement” networks. Then Mad Men, Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead challenged the trio of larger cable networks. Last year, a former colleague had said that the emergence of AMC had turned the hunters (TNT, USA and FX) into the hunted.

Best believe that AMC will be looking over its shoulder, too.

(BTW, it’s upfront season in television and “newfront” season for digital platforms. I’ll explain what the hell those are soon, but here’s your simple description: a large bulk of TV ad space – about 65%, more or less – for a given season is purchased ‘upfront’. Networks announce the fall schedule to the masses, but it’s really being done for advertising agencies and their clients. Over the next couple of months, networks and agencies will negotiate these ‘upfront’ buys. Over $2 BILLION will be in play.)

Research About Us:

The Upshot at the New York Times published An Atlas of Upward Mobility Shows Paths Out of Poverty and the accompanying interactive infographic, The Best and Worst Places to Grow Up: How Your Area Compares this morning. Depending on where you live, this can either depress you or anger you as it will confirm that “pulling yourself from your bootstraps” is easier if the bootstraps are at a higher level for a select few.

Shameless (not the Showtime show):

This coming Friday, I will be a guest on the Earnestly Speaking podcast with the South Florida (by way of Brooklyn) homie Earnest ‘EJ’ Christian.

It’s my first podcast appearance outside of The Exchange in a while as I’m starting to get back out on the talking grind. EJ has been a huge supporter of all things related to TSFJ and The Exchange over the last few years, so it’ll be great to re-connect for a segment about a few subjects. He’s asked me to not just dig into sports – Mayweather-Pacquiao and the NBA playoffs – but also the unrest in Baltimore. I’m looking forward to it and hopefully you can join us. Details to come.

That’s it for now. Enjoy the links and if you will please, do me a favor…

Be Good

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