Broadcasting & Cable has an interview with late night host Jimmy Kimmel that cover topics from what he thinks about Jay Leno moving to prime time, to whether he'd prefer to have the 11:30pm spot and compete head-to-head with Dave and Conan. But among the nuggets in the interview was this:
You told me you don't know show business. That's not true.
It absolutely is. Very little of [show business] makes sense to me. If I were an advertiser, I would demand a better system for measuring an audience. I really don't totally understand the whole thing.
I imagine Nielsen's response to this would be, "Yeah, he definitely doesn't know the business!" While obviously Kimmel is not alone in that assessment, to some degree why things work they way they do makes sense. There is no better system readily available, and in the absence of that, the advertising market needs to use something. So they use the best system available.
Advertisers can (and perhaps should, and perhaps they do) demand better measurement, but in the absence of it, it's not like the advertising market is going to say, "You know, we're just not going to buy and sell any advertising at all until a better system is in place!"
But I think Kimmel has an interesting view on things. In his comments below, he thinks things will change with online viewing, but that it will take a while, perhaps 10 years. But, he envisions a world where all involved are making less money (at least in terms of late night). That sounds right to me.
What do you understand about the business?
I really believe I'm on the very tail end of television as a big money-making business. I think there will always be a certain number of people who make a lot of money, like American Idol or NFL football, but I just think that in 10 years when people have good Internet connections, there are going to be a thousand channels. People will be making money, they just won't be making a lot of money. Even successful shows or programming will bring in small amounts of money.
When? In 10 years?
Maybe. It can't just be the early adopters; people's grandparents have to have same equipment as everyone else. Yeah, the golden age of making a lot of money as a television personality is coming to a close. I was lucky enough to get in before the doors closed, but in 10 years I just don't think that you're going to see people make as much money in late-night television as Leno and Letterman do now.