My brother has worked in the television business for over 15 years, and in that time my family was privy to all the bloopers and bureaucracy of the television business. Every time someone dropped a tape or forgot to flip a switch in broadcast TV, we were sure to know about it. For those of you out there who didn’t have the benefit of my brother’s running commentary, there’s Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe. It’s a BBC documentary series on the business of television. It goes into the enormous cost and complexity of creating a television show

The show’s most interesting segments delve into the thinking behind what gets aired on television. As a business, television producers don’t sell content per se, they sell audiences for the consumption of advertisement. So television producers essentially have to guess at what kind of person would watch their program. Sure they have statistical sampling methods like the nielsen box, but that only tracks the people that want to be sampled. This seems as reliable as checking chicken entrails in the age of contextualized advertisement. With the advent of Google you can now tailor ads to specific content. Ads are paid for on a click through basis, and the advertisers website can track where the visitors of coming from. That means that the effectiveness of ads can be measured without any invasive samplings. With luck, the next 20 years could see the end of the insidious practices of “consumer surveys” and “focus groups”.

Clip found at Mayerson on Animation.