A New Chapter for TVSpy

By Andrew Gauthier 

It seems fitting that a new chapter for Shoptalk and TVSpy would begin today. It’s the end of the second quarter and the beginning of the second half of 2009. We’re in the middle of a titanic change for our industry as the transition from analog to digital continues to accelerate. And maybe titanic isn’t the right word maybe the word should be apocalyptic?

Witness: the smallest audience in the history of the CBS Evening News fewer than 5 million viewers (sadly and ironically in the same week Walter Cronkite was reported to be gravely ill.) Witness: prime time ratings for ABC plunged to a 1.1 in the key advertiser demo for the week of June 15, despite more than 50% of ABC’s schedule being original and no extraordinary competiton like the Olympics. Witness: NBC’s “Tonight Show” a venerable institution if ever there was one slipped to second place in total viewers last week, just weeks before its lead-in’s lead-in changes dramatically (Leno at 10pm.) Witness: Comcast and Time-Warner announce a new plan to bundle cable & on-line programming access in a frantic experiment to stop the undermining of their business model. Witness: Steve Ballmer (yes, he has an axe to grind) pronounced the end of the apocalypse for traditional media with this death knell “All content consumed will be digital, we can [only] debate if that may be in one, two, five or 10 years. There won’t be any newspapers, magazines and TV programs. In 10 years it will all be online.”

It’s a brave new world and here at TVSpy, we are committed to covering it. As Tom Petner wrote in his farewell post last Friday, “the good old days were not necessarily the good old days.” Or maybe, in the words of Carly Simon’s Anticipation ” these are the good old days.” For years now, Tom encouraged his students (and us in the Shoptalk community) to embrace new technology and wake up to new consumer behaviors. Obviously, he was right.

Shoptalk’s new editor, Andrew Gauthier, and the team at Vault.com (Shoptalk’s owner) are absolutely committed to covering the sometimes gut-wrenching but always exciting developments that lie ahead. I’ll let him speak for himself, but we’ll encourage your continued participation in this great community that Don Fitzpatrick first set in motion many years ago. Over the weeks ahead, we hope to make some technical and aesthetic improvements enabled by a technological overhaul at the parent company. (As you may have already noticed, we have made some slight changes to the look and navigability of the newsletter.) Among our goals – to deliver ShopTalks one-of-a-kind brand of news in a way that is increasingly user-friendly. As always, feedback is welcomed.

Erik Sorenson is chief executive officer of Vault.com, Inc. He oversees the strategic direction of the global, New York-based media company, including ShopTalk & TVSPY. If you would like to comment on Remote Control, or want to reach Erik, email remotecontrol@tvspy.