I am a graduate of Elon College (now Elon University) with a B.A. in Communications with minors in Film and Religious Studies. During my time at Elon, I did a summer internship with the local NBC affiliate, WXII. I worked the morning shift on camera for the morning news program and the cut-ins to the Today Show. That time got me hooked on the Today Show. I enjoyed watching the segments and the anchors’ banter in-between segments. Plus at the station we saw the pure feed and got to see what was happening while the pubic were watching commercials.
I am not in the communications field directly. I am a data manager at a school. I have no TV in my office. But I do follow the tweets of @TodayShow and @Sarahaines to keep up with things. I’ll also glance at the Today Show’s website. When I am off from work, I tune in and watch live, but this is rare. While I can get the stores, watch video clips of the stories, and have some interaction; there are some issues.
Issue number one is WXII airs hours one and two of Today live. They then show Live with Kelly. They resume Today for hours three and four with a one hour tape delay. Therefore any social media interaction is moot. The second issue is that the website, Facebook, and twitter only provide a part of what makes Today, Today. That is the interaction of the anchors with each other and with the crowds. That interaction is half of the reason I watch and why I feel a reason many people watch it live.
NBC has received very just complaints about their social media strategy and coverage of the 2012 Summer Olympics. Not showing the Benedict Cumberbatch (a.k.a Sherlock) opening to the ceremonies was a mistake. Skipping 7/7 terrorist attack tribute in the opening ceremony in favor of a Ryan Seacrest interview was a poor choice and made the U.S. look insensitive. (If another country cut out a tribute we did to 9/11 we would be outraged.) Plus the Bob Costas/Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira commentary of the opening ceremony felt forced to be funny and came of insensitive and at times offensive. Tweeting and using social media as if the events were live (when they were tape delayed) was a poor choice. NBC has learned and made steps to correct some of these things.
Why did I spend a paragraph talking about the Olympic coverage in a post about the Today Show? Well people can complain all they want, but how about we think about solutions instead. Let’s talk about the things NBC did right for the Olympics and how they can use them with the Today Show.
NBC learned that with Social Media and the Internet, you can no longer tape delay the news. You cannot tweet/share on delay. You have to engage your audience via social media but you can do it in ways that don’t involve acting like it is live when it is not. You can show news/sports live in other ways than TV footage. I have used the NBC Olympics Live app on my iPad on a daily basis to watch/listen to events live and I usually choose events that don’t get much primetime coverage (Field Hockey, Volleyball, etc.).
OK how can we take these technologies and the lessons learned and apply them to The Today Show? First, realize that TV is just one way of reaching your audience. There is an audience out there who can’t watch on TV. Second, you can engage your TV audience as well as people not watching live via Facebook, Twitter, and social media but you have to do it in a planned out way. Third, use technology to give you a different audience than you would have via TV.
Here is my suggestion to NBC/The Today Show. Create a Today Show app and a live show feed on Today.com . You can use the Live Extra app as a building block where people can log on using their cable or satellite provider. But you CANNOT limit your audience that way. So for people who do not have cable and satellite, that population is growing daily, you can have a paid subscription. That subscription needs to work for both the app and the website. (It works just ask Major League Baseball. Their MLB.tv and Gameday Audio work via their website and apps.) Make it affordable (which is something MLB.tv has not learned.) Then stream the full feed, both segments and anchor interaction, to people. When the feed cuts for commercial commercials can be inserted. When the feed cuts to local news & weather you can show more commercials, if we want local news & weather, we can find it online. I am sure that there are other options and ways to do things out there. I would love to hear people’s suggestions and hear what NBC/Today has to say about this.
03/20/2013: ABC TV is working on a app for allowing cable customers to watch live feed video. NBC & Today need to get on the ball! Let me watch a live feed of the Today show using my iPad while I work!