Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Getting Ahead In Television

What's the talent you need to have the most to succeed in tv? That's the question no-one asks - let's face it, watch most tv shows and you'd imagine no talent at all is the best way to be. But I'll plough on anyway.

Say you didn't work in the meeeeeeja but for FLPHC Ltd, Fred’s Little Paper Hat Company. It’s one of around two thousand other similar paper hat companies – not in the UK but in London alone. Some are bigger, some are smaller but they’re all competing to the death in a desperate cut-throat market, forever coming up with newer, better, more inventive head coverings of a paper-type nature.

The paper hat market is so competitive because there are only ten people who buy them. Ever. And most of those ten make their own hats in-house, employing – for example – the Fred who set up your company and left years ago, taking all his considerable paper-hat-making-expertise with him.

This didn’t impact your profits much because there aren’t any really as the ten people who buy hats get to see all your costs and pay you a small percentage ‘profit’ on the top. Which normally goes to improve the quality of the hats anyway...

You hear stories, of the guy who invented a paper hat that sold all over the world and made a killing, or the woman who did the first hat aimed at 0-2 year olds and is now worth two hundred mil, but FLPHC is only just managing to scrape by.

All it ever seems to do is scrape by, even when it invented the Paper Pooper Wrapper Upper, the revolutionary combination of paper hat and receptacle to dispose of dog poo. Two products, I think you’ll agree, that had been apart too long.

Unfortunately within weeks every other paper hat company was making the same kind of headgear/turd wrapper combo and bang went your market advantage. Sigh. Never mind, there’s always tomorrow. And-

OK, forget paper hats. It’s tv as if you haven’t already guessed it. The tv industry is fundamentally fucked up because the normal rules of capitalism are reversed. There are thousands of producers to every consumer. Not the viewer – God forbid we mention them at all – but the channels who buy programmes. In this environment you primarily need one skill:

tv secret:
selling is everything

Selling, in a business with too many suppliers and not enough customers, is key. It might not seem that way at 2.34am when you’re alone in a dark office watching a battered old TV/video combo trying to find the one good take of your useless presenter introduce the crappy daytime shit you’re stumbling to finish but, no, he’s forgotten his line yet-a-fucking-again and back to the start and-

Nasty flashback there. Deep breaths. That's better.

Anyway, being a good salesperson is all in tv. Even if the creatives won't countenance such an idea.

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