The news industry—in print, online and on television—has benefited greatly from the 2020 election. Not only have the ratings/reading of these outlets skyrocketed, but the advertising dollars have, too. Local, statewide and national candidates have poured money into television advertising, and the big “independent committees” pushing candidates or specific political issues, have added to the heft of political spending dramatically this fall. For now, with the end of the election, people think that political advertising will die down, at least for a while. What is the next “bright light” for the traditional media business?

Sports content is that bright light, particularly with the Olympics coming up later this year, assuming no additional postponements, and media outlets from newspapers to websites and apps to television are excited about these advertising and sponsorship dollars.

We have also seen a lot of excitement about women’s sports in the country, as well as new sports being introduced to the media consumer, which will expand the media opportunities and revenue for sports.

For instance, the new Premier Lacrosse League launched in 2018 and organized their schedule around when they could get TV exposure. This year they grew the TV audience on NBC for their championship by almost 25% over 2019.

We also see more attention focused on women’s sports. Over a year ago it was announced that the Los Angeles Angel City Football Club would be the newest team in the Women’s Soccer League. Angel City was partly funded by celebrities like Serena Williams, Jessica Chastain, America Ferrera, Jennifer Garner and Eva Longoria. Billie Jean King is also a member of the ownership group.

Julie Uhrman, Founder and President of Angel City FC, in an exclusive email exchange, said “Angel City is bigger than a game. We are a platform that stands for equality and impact, where we strive to set higher expectations on and off the field. We believe leading with passion and purpose will lead to profitability. Angel City Football Club is reshaping expectations of what a sports franchise is today.”

Also, sports is not just sports anymore, particularly for the media outlets. Sports now includes Esports – the competitive environment encompassing professional and amateur players of certain video games that lend themselves to team competitions. The biggest titles include League of Legends, Call of Duty, PUBG, Counterstrike, Overwatch and others. Millions of people are watching thousands of competitive players challenge other teams for big prize money, as well as revenue from livestreaming, endorsements and merchandise. Esports has become big business, estimated at over $2 billion in worldwide revenue. My research has shown that there are 500M people around the globe regularly watching Esports in person or remotely.

Though much of the audience watching Esports competitions is young men, there is also a big minority of women following Esports. In fact, Cloud 9 one of the biggest and most successful Esports teams has announced an all-female team that will compete in the game Valorant, a newly launched first-person shooter from Blizzard Studios.

Uhrman, a leader in the media, gaming and sports world, welcomed this all-female team to esports, “As a long-time media and gaming entrepreneur and now president of a professional women’s soccer team, I could not be more thrilled to see the rise in female participation in esports. Women bring a totally different perspective to sports and this team will open esports up to a much larger, more diverse audience, while also creating new revenue streams and attracting even more women to get in the game.”

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Originally Posted on Forbes

For the last 20 years the American newspaper industry has cratered. Advertising revenue, as well as print subscriptions have declined, just like a falling knife . The local newspapers have been particularly hard hit and some have even closed-up entirely. But The New York Times has announced a big increase in their digital subscription revenue.

The national newspapers, particularly The Wall Street Journal DJCO -0.3% and The New York Times NYT +2.9%, created paywalls much earlier than most news and information sources online. The Journal was particularly early to institute a paywall, starting in 1996. Most people in the digital news industry have considered the Journal’s subscription paywall more of an “enterprise” product and often a business expense for the subscribers.

The New York Times started charging for online content in 2011 and it was a modest revenue source at the time. But over the years, the advertising revenue from print, and even the advertising revenue on The Times’ digital services, has continued to decline. Meanwhile, the digital subscriptions for the New York Times, both for their flagship news brand, as well as for crossword puzzles and other “a la carte” offers for paid content, are growing rapidly.

The Times announced today that for the third quarter of the year, for the first time ever, digital subscribers’ revenue was bigger than the revenue from the print newspaper subscriptions.

“Our strategy of making journalism worth paying for continues to prove itself out,” Meredith Kopit Levien, who took over as CEO of The New York Times Company in September.

There were six million digital subscribers to The New York Times’ core news product, as well as their additional crossword and recipe paid services. In comparison there are less than 850,000 print subscribers to the newspaper of record in the U.S. Further data on their revenue sources and growth or decline are outlined thoroughly in The New York Times newspaper’s coverage of The Times success in paid content.

The Financial Times is another major newspaper that has experienced strong results by charging for access to their content online. The FT has charged subscription packages, like other newspapers, and they were early adopters of a paywall, back in 2002.

The New York Times Company remains profitable and will likely continue to build up both its new subscription service, but also more content and products for consumers to buy. It looks like The New York Times is doing an admirable job at avoiding the complete value destruction that has occurred at other newspaper companies.

Many pundits counted out the newspapers that instituted paywalls, pointing out that news is a commodity and is available free in many digital locations. For instance, in 2011 the Financial Times covered comments by a Canadian media expert, Mathew Ingram, where they described his negative opinion of paywalls, “Ingram contends that there is little guarantee that NYT paywall subscriber numbers will continue to grow, and every reason to believe they won’t.” Clearly The New York Times has been very successful with their paid content offerings.

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Originally Posted on Forbes

“Hear ye, hear ye, read all about it.” This phrase has been hawked loudly for well over 100 years to alert the public to big news (or sometimes not so big). “Extra, extra, read all about it”, is the same basic idea. Historically the content industry has promoted its stories and shows to encourage the public to check them out.

The Web and our digital services all seem to have notifications, alerts, promotions, etc. bringing important (and sometimes not so important) information to our attention. The news is everywhere, but letting the people know where to find the breaking news stories is a constant effort of search, notifications and alerts. While some people may complain about these alerts, others will tell you that they gather a good sense of the news, over the course of a day, from the alerts and notifications they receive from news sources, often on social media platforms.

CBS VIAC -0.2%N, the 24-hour news streaming service of CBS, has grown considerably since its launch in 2014 and now regularly has millions of viewers watching their breaking news stories. CBSN has had big peaks in their ratings during major live events, such as presidential debates, Covid briefings, and protests, as well as big news in the major local markets where CBS’ local TV stations program a locally-oriented CBSN feed.

CBSN has just launched a new service for the Roku connected TV platform, a major distribution platform for CBNS, called “Video Push Alerts,”. These alerts are a lot like what you would get on a mobile phone alert and promote live news events to CBSN viewers across the 12 major local CBS station news markets. The Video Push Alerts were tested, pre-launch, on the Apple TV system.

Hollywood Reporter announced this new feature from CBSN today. During an interview with Christy Tanner, executive vp and GM of CBS News Digital, she said to The Reporter, “Think of how ubiquitous mobile push alerts are. These are the same thing, for our CBS News app ecosystem. We are going to have the ability to alert you when something interesting newsworthy and live is happening in one of our 12 live streams.” The markets include: New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Boston, Los Angeles, the Bay Area, Denver, Chicago and Dallas-Fort Worth.

With the election approaching rapidly no doubt there will be many alerts about rallies, scandals, announcements, and controversies boiling the news’ waters.

In an email exchange with this contributor, Ms. Tanner expanded on her thoughts about the importance of local live programming, saying, “With video push alerts, CBSN continues to lead the marketplace in both editorial and technology innovation. Now, our producers can easily let viewers know when something is breaking on one of our 12 live streams, delivering on our mission of public service by putting the spotlight on our reporters’ excellent work.” 

“When we do research, we hear people say that their most trusted outlet is their local news,” Tanner says. “We recognize that value, and we wanted to be able to be the first mover in local streaming at a national level, so that people can stay connected to their communities, wherever they are.”

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Originally Posted on Forbes

Emarketer, the well-regarded source of much digital research data, has released data showing that in-app purchases (typically for virtual goods) in mobile apps are growing as a revenue source, and that advertising, due to Covid is shrinking. The mobile app economy has been dominated by in-app purchases since the advent of the smartphone, particularly due to the presence of extensive in-app purchases items in mobile gaming apps. In non-gaming apps there is rising revenue driven by content subscriptions.

Sensor Tower, a well-known data analytics firm in the mobile app arena, according to eMarketer, estimated that global app revenues from in-app purchases rose by 23.4% year-over-year in the first half of 2020 and $36.6 billion came from within games, an increase of more than 20% YOY.

It is has been observed in the recent past that increasingly hybrid monetization models are becoming popular. Such models are a combination of in-app purchases and advertising, which are especially prevalent in mobile gaming. Many game developers and game publishers are buying cost-per-install based advertising to acquire their users by advertising on mobile game apps similar to their own.

I believe that the advertising revenue model will continue to increase for mobile games, in part due to the big demand for mobile advertising inventory by those advertisers wanting to convey their messages to consumers across mobile platforms. But for the short-term it appears that the growth of advertising in mobile apps is slowing.

According to AppsFlyer, a mobile analytics company, the share of games using a hybrid model dropped 8% between Q2 2019 and Q2 2020. For casual and midcore games the revenue coming from advertising fell 30% YOY. As eMarketer said, “In absolute terms, ad revenues did well in these hybrid games, rising by 47%, but IAP revenues jumped by 130%.” According to AppsFlyer “Users were far more engaged with games during lockdown, and along with the effects of our ‘new normal,’ users have become less tolerant of ads,” said Shani Rosenfelder, Head of Content and Mobile Insights at AppsFlyer.

Speaking about subscription revenue, eMarketer quoted Ted Krantz, CEO of App Annie, another mobile analytics firm, asking a big question: “How many subscriptions will a particular consumer actually,” pay for.

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If you are a fan of the traditional newspaper, particularly the prestigious national “newspaper of record” then you should note the announced retirement of Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. as Chairman of the Board of The New York Times Company

Sulzberger was the Publisher of the New York Times NYT +2.9% from 1992 to 2017. Sulzberger led the paper and the company through the most challenging times of print newspapers since their creation, no doubt. Sulzberger became publisher of The Times in 1992, succeeding his father, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, and served in that role until 2017 when he was succeeded by his son, A.G Sulzberger, as Publisher of The Times. Mr. Sulzberger, Jr. will be Chairman Emeritus of the Company. The Sulzberger family controls The New York Times Company due to their super-voting shares, Class B stock.

Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. presided over the great expansion of The New York Times as a powerful national newspaper, alongside its dominance in the greater New York area. For many of us who grew up in the digital media world, Sulzberger led the New York Times’ many forays into innovation, including digital content and distribution. The New York Times had an early commitment to placing its content on the Internet and across the various digital platforms available. The Times also focused deeply on paid content, which was a novel concept advanced by the digital management at The Times with the backing of Sulzberger. The early and strong commitment of The Times to valuing their content as premium content, deserving to be paid for by consumers, has allowed The Times to continue to grow overall subscription numbers. The Times has built up many millions of paid digital subscribers for the overall newspaper offering, as well as launching and growing a series of niche digital products that have also been introduced by The Times.

Quoted in his own newspaper, the new Chairman of The New York Times Company, A. G. Sulzberger said of his father, “As publisher and chairman, Arthur brought more change to The Times than anyone since Adolph Ochs. His tenure stretched from the first front-page color photo to experiments in augmented reality, from the heyday of print advertising to digital revenue eclipsing print.”

In the category of interesting personal tidbits, The Times’ story on the change of leadership at Company, described the retiring Chairman as a Star Trek fan and a rock climber.

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Paul Kagan passed away at 82 years of age at his home in Carmel, California. Kagan is one of the great analysts of the TV and cable era. His advice and his data were frequently sought out by the many players in the TV and cable ecosystem. Kagan was a major figure in the industry for over four decades.

Kagan is called by many, The Guru of Cable, and was inducted into the Cable Hall of Fame in 2011.

Kagan started as a sportswriter and then was an analyst at E.F. Hutton in New York City. Kagan was an early entrepreneur and set-up his own firm, Paul Kagan Associates in 1969.

Kagan wrote extensively about the economics of the cable industry as it expanded dramatically in the 70’s, 80’s and beyond. Cable TV has reigned King during much of Kagan’s professional life. Over the last few years, the cable industry has suffered the pain of cord-cutting. Kagan’s firm published dozens of newsletters, scores of datasets, sponsored conferences and provided consulting to many companies and organizations, across all meaningful media issues. Kagan was also early in beginning to cover the Internet and the digital disruption of traditional media.

As a successful entrepreneur, Kagan sold his company to Primedia in 2000. Today the research company continues to operate as Kagan, a unit of S&P Global Market Intelligence.  

A bright teenager, Kagan graduated from Taft High School in the Bronx in 1954 at age 16 and then attended and graduated from Hunter College in New York City with a B.A. in Communications. Kagan had an early career as a sportswriter and continued to be a sports fan throughout his life.

“His body will rest at El Carmelo Cemetery in Pacific Grove by the rolling waves of the ocean, but his soul will be in heaven,” his family said. “We hope that they have a press box up there so he can call the games for all the Yankees who have gone before him and are no doubt playing baseball in the clouds.”

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), the well-regarded national trade association for the digital media and marketing industries, has announced David Cohen, its current President, has been promoted to Chief Executive Officer (CEO), succeeding Randall Rothenberg. Rothenberg had served as the IAB CEO since 2007, except for six months when he was at Time, Inc. Rothenberg will remain at IAB as Executive Chair through 2022.

The IAB sets standards, develops best practices, provides continuing education and training, provides advice and assistance, as well as research and data to the many advertisers and advertising companies that work with IAB. IAB has been instrumental in the growth of digital revenue since its founding in 1996 – the very wild west of the Internet.

Cohen takes on the leadership of the IAB at a time when traditional advertising is faltering, which has been catalyzed by the Covid pandemic, while digital advertising is projected to grow, albeit, no doubt at a lower rate than in the past.

Cohen has been President of the IAB for the last year and was responsible for a big increase in their media marketplaces and the number of industry executives involved in IAB’s leadership councils. Rothenberg said about Cohen, “He is a true leader with the steadiness, strategic insights, and experience necessary to take IAB and the digital marketing and media industries through the economic recovery and ultimately to the next level of growth. The Board and I felt strongly that there was no reason to wait. He should be our CEO now.”

“As the industry continues to face some of its biggest challenges, we rely on IAB to bring us together, tackle the tough questions, and develop real, actionable solutions,” said Rik Van der Kooi, Corporate Vice President at Microsoft MSFT 0.0% Advertising and Interim Chair of IAB Board of Directors. “In this next chapter, we’ll still be able to rely on Randall’s wisdom and counsel, and we’ll have all the benefits and tremendous strengths David brings to the table. Everybody wins — especially IAB members.”

In his new role Cohen will report to the IAB Board of Directors, chaired by Rik Van der Kooi, Corporate Vice President at Microsoft MSFT 0.0% Advertising. The IAB Vice Chair, is Gina Garrubbo, President and CEO of National Public Media. A long-standing member of the IAB Board, Peter Naylor, VP of Sales, Snap Inc. SNAP -4.7%said, “The bottom line in business is results, and David delivers. His buy-side experience and perspective, most recently as President of Magna, is invaluable. He has built organizations responsible for purchasing billions of dollars of digital media inventory annually.”

Cohen expressed enthusiasm for leading the IAB and serving their clients and partners in the digital media eco-system. He said, “what makes the IAB leadership position so meaningful is that the team here is not just helping individual companies – we’re helping to reshape and grow an entire sector of the economy.”

Cohen continued, “We are boosting our focus on dramatically increasing our brand, agency, and publisher presence across all IAB activities. My buy-side experience has shown me that connecting all those dots is critical for industry collaboration, agenda-setting, and leadership.”

As Executive Chair, Rothenberg will report to Cohen, and advise the IAB on economic, public policy, compliance, and consumer brand and retail issues.

“I speak for all of us at IAB when I say we can’t thank Randall enough for his leadership, his friendship, his sage counsel, and for everything he has done for the industry he has served so faithfully for the past 14 years,” said Cohen. “What we are able to build in the years ahead would not have been possible without him.”

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The Interactive Advertising Bureau, the well-respected trade group focused on digital advertising, has released its newest report projecting modest growth for U.S. digital media advertising spend for the full calendar year of 2020. The IAB expects digital ad spend to grow by 6% in 2020. Conversely, they predict that traditional media advertising will shrink by 30% vs. 2019.

Overall, IAB predicts that ad spend by year-end will shrink by only 8%. These numbers are similar to what other companies, including Zenith Media, predicted earlier in the summer.

Earlier in the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, as the stay-at-home orders started to crater the economy around the world, some observers expected a higher decline in ad spend for 2020.

IAB has projected a 24% decline in traditional TV advertising spend for 2020 vs. 2019. Yet they see a big increase coming for connected TV advertising, which they estimate will growth at 19% year over year.

Many advertising networks and agencies are relieved to see what appears to be a strong V-shaped bounceback for most of the advertising industry in the U.S.

Nonetheless, traditional TV and traditional print advertising expenditures remain on secular downward trends. The Covid impact on the economy has added further pain to the already suffering traditional media outlets.

One senior ad tech executive, who was not authorized to speak to the press, said that the ad industry is definitely seeing a “V-shaped bounce back in the digital advertising business.” He continued, “Our third quarter advertising revenue this year will equal our 2019 third quarter revenue, which is remarkable.” He also expects the fourth quarter ad spend to be strong, perhaps beating last year’s fourth quarter. Traditionally the fourth quarter is the most important quarter of the advertising revenue year.

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TikTok, the Western social video app, from ByteDance, a major Chinese interactive entertainment company, has become a cause celebre with Donald Trump on one side wanting to ban TikTok, and others contending it is a restraint of free speech and an illegal action by the Trump Administration.

TikTok is the up and coming mobile video app that is growing rapidly in the U.S. and is hugely popular in India and other countries around the world. TikTok has also been recently banned by the Indian Government, in part due to the border tension between China and India.

Due to the Trump Administration’s action against TikTok, ByteDance has been in discussions with Microsoft, Oracle and others, such as Walmart, who has confirmed they are discussing the deal with Microsoft.

TikTok is all about super short video. Another major competitor in the short video digital world is Quibi which launched earlier this year, at a price tag of $4.99 or $7.99 a month, with or without ads respectively.

Quibi received close to $2 billion in financial backing, and was founded by Jeffrey Katzenberg who is Chairman. Katzenberg is well-known in Hollywood as an entertainment and creative success, having co-founded DreamWorks SKG, as well as being the past CEO of DreamWorks Animation. Katzenberg was Chairman of Disney Studios for 10 very successful years before DreamWorks. Katzenberg

recruited Meg Whitman, the former CEO of eBay EBAY -5.3% and former Republican nominee for Governor of California in 2010, to be the CEO of Quibi.

TikTok and Quibi are both short-form, but otherwise these two companies are wildly different. Perhaps the most significant difference is how Quibi and TikTok differently define “short”. Let’s take a look at the key differences between TikTok and Quibi and consider how these differences have led to big success for TikTok, and failing fortunes for Quibi, which is rumored to be considering eliminating their subscription fee and becoming free.

Short-form: While Qubi defines short-form content as 10 minutes, about 100 million Americans have demonstrated with their deep engagement with TikTok, that they prefer truly short videos – no longer than 1 minute and often as short as 15 seconds. In today’s world with multi-tasking run rampant, multiple devices grabbing our attention, and the fast-paced tempo and “click-bait” of digital content, 10 minutes is not really short. Maybe for a senior citizen, but not for a member of the Z or Millennial Generations. Under the category of short hits of digital entertainment, TikTok is besting Quibi.

Pricing: Consumers have shown a deep affection for long-form TV and film content, including a willingness to pay for that content on services like Netflix NFLX -5% and Disney Plus, as well as the majority of American households that subscribe to traditional pay cable and satellite TV. But the advertising supported video content services, like YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok and others show the great affection of consumers for free content. In the realm of pricing, TikTok’s free content is beating out Quibi’s paid content.

Virality: TikTok makes it super easy to share a video you like (or made) with others by email, posting to Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, as well as Whats App, Twitter, Facebook Messenger, and text messaging. Yet, Quibi has spurned viral sharing opportunities. Similarly you can readily find TikTok content on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and other services where TikTok compilations have become top performing videos. Quibi’s content distribution strategy is focused on the Quibi app.

Authenticity vs. Stars: In many cases Quibi has followed the paradigm of traditional Hollywood with big budgets (by digital terms), known actors and famous writers. TikTok’s content is authentic,

refreshing, and relatable because it is created by your relative, your neighbor, or your buddies at school and work. TikTok takes the day for authentic content that appeals to Every-Person (the more modern version of the Everyman concept). Plus, TikTok content is free to make (for TikTok) while Quibi has expensive writing and production budgets for their content.

Additionally, TikTok content has something for everyone from travel and cooking to life hacks, workout tips, and of course, the famous TikTok challenges and dances. A unique type of content has also risen up on TikTok, what I call “intergenerational content”. Perhaps it is driven by the at-home scenario being lived by some many families during the Covid pandemic.

But whatever the reason, TikTok is a great place to find siblings goofing off together, kids and their parents acting out short-skits and interactions, and even a popular Grandma cooking with her grandson. Most TikTok accounts are registered to teens and young adults, but Mom and Dad, plus others from the older generations are hanging out on TikTok too.

When you consider these factors it is not surprising to see that TikTok is riding a tidal wave of consumer appeal, while Quibi is floundering.


We have all had so many virtual, digital experiences over the last six months since the Covid pandemic began to spread. For some people it was birthdays and weddings. For others it was conference meetings and seminars. For many it was school at one level or another. But there have also been many one-off events – normally big, in-person spectaculars. One great example is the political nominating conventions every four years, right up there (but nowhere near the ratings) with the Olympics, Presidential Inaugurations and other happy and sad events of mass appeal.

Right now the Democrats are having their first virtual, digital Convention, and many of the mainstream politicians probably will hanker to go back to the crowded stadiums and convention halls

of past conventions, with speeches only the home audience could hear because the noise from the convention floor rumbled in the background.

The pre-Covid conventions had the exciting (read this sarcastically) on-the-spot, man-in-the street interviews on the convention floor with roving correspondents in search of intrigue, gossip and breaking news. It was just boring TV with limited production quality, and a bunch of “talking heads.”

The ratings for the political conventions has been spotty over the years. The networks continue to reduce their live coverage of what used to be “gavel to gavel” broadcasts, but the many digital platforms have more than made up for it. Different numbers will be reported over the next few days in terms of TV viewers of the Democratic Convention, as well as the many digital viewers, but it seems that the total number of Americans tuning into this digital convention, across all platforms and outlets, was substantial, almost 50 million Americans. Undoubtedly some people used more than one platform to view the convention at different times throughout the night.

How will consumers feel about this new, digital, distributed approach to a convention that is highly produced, with hundreds of real folks in their real homes watching, applauding and chiming in about their man for President? We have been subjected to long, boring, droning preambles by the leader of each State’s delegates when they cast their votes for the “next President of the United

States,” ever since the first TV broadcast of a national political nominating convention in 1940. But now each State’s delegates appear remotely in some beautiful, special, or dramatic “made for TV” setting and concisely herald their soon to be nominee, as they cast their votes.

This new style convention, this virtual , digital convention seems to me to be “better TV” than the old

live broadcast of a stuffy gathering of white men, smoking cigars, and making side deals to nominate the next President. The smoke-filled rooms were real and the press, be it print, TV or digital, has covered the intrigue and inside maneuvering of each political party and their leaders with the sort of detail that only an army of reporters could produce.

But the intrigue is rare, if not entirely nonexistent in the modern, traditional convention today. The nominating rules of both major political parties rarely result in a “brokered” convention (a nicer way of saying the end result of horse-trading), because the Presidential nominee has entered the convention with a clear majority every single time since 1980 and many times before then. So perhaps the old style convention is dead, not just because of Covid, but because it was boring TV and in the end just a long, poorly produced advertisement for the candidate of each party.

Today’s virtual convention is also an advertisement for the candidate of choice, but it is more than that. The Democratic Digital Convention is also good TV. The live speeches were well produced, perfectly delivered, and you could hear them without the roar of a raucous crowd not paying attention to the speaker.

Many conventions have presented produced video stories of 5-10 minutes to push their candidate, often used in order to introduce the candidates or their spouses. But to me something more authentic, a bit more “from the home and the heart” came across in the digitally streamed speeches (practiced untold times no doubt) from various meaningful locales, like Dr. Jill Biden delivering a speech from one of her old classrooms from her days as a teacher in Delaware. It may not have made you cry, but it felt more real to me than the crowded, awkward hand-holding and waving of candidates and their wives from the podium of a large, noisy convention hall.

I also thought the many “zoomed-in” appearances of regular people (not the delegates who are often political hacks, junkies and activists who I doubt the average American feels much in common with) were fun and brought home the national nature of a political nominating convention, perhaps more so than seeing all the States’ placards in a central convention hall. Here, in this digital convention, we had hundreds of Americans waving and applauding, almost as if they were sitting next to me, or at least in the apartment down the hall. I wrote about this “bring in the people” production technique when it was used in the NFL Digital Draft back in April. In both cases it made these “reality TV shows” more real.

For almost 90 years political conventions have heralded their nominees’ acceptance speeches with a huge ballon drop (when they work) showering everyone with red, white and blue balloons. The balloon drop started in 1932and I am sure for many old-timers it won’t be the same when the emoji style balloons of every color, shape and size come floating across the viewers’ TV, phone or computer screens. But for many others it will make us feel right at home – just like we were on Facebook or TikTok.

The national political conventions this year are social media styled, reality TV shows brought to you by Covid. Coming August 24 we can see how the Republicans produce their digital, virtual convention and we will see what kind of digital drama will be presented by the leaders of the Republican party and the incumbent President of the United States. It could be very interesting. Both the party and their nominee know a little bit about TV (again read sarcasm).

The leaders of these campaigns know that this year the TV production is going to be different and they both want to nail a great show. “We are producing a digital convention, and people are watching,” T.J. Ducklo of USA Today, tweeted.

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