Tuesday, December 29, 2009

This could change book promotion as we know it.

I've just read an Associated Press article via MSNBC.com saying that, because of declining advertising dollars, free broadcast television could disappear in favor of pay-only services. In other words, in the not-so-distant future, if we don't subscribe to television networks, we might not be able to view their programming.

What does that mean to those of us who are seeking book publicity opportunities? Well, getting an opportunity to appear on a nationally-aired television show has been the Holy Grail for most book publicists, publishers, and authors for as long as I've been a book promotion specialist. That was because national television shows usually drew larger audiences than, say, a nationally-syndicated radio show, and it garnered "more eyeballs" (an ugly, but apt, phrase) than, for example, a daily newspaper.

But the reason so many of us watch the same television shows is, at least in part, because those television shows are free. A show that's aired on a cable network -- for instance, "Curb Your Enthusiasm" -- couldn't capture the audience that a show aired on a broadcast network -- say, "Seinfeld" -- could.

The smart book marketing decision has always been to target media venues so that the greatest possible number of the "right" people. Before, national television shows that aired on broadcast stations had the greatest potential for doing that. Now, who knows where the greatest number of viewers (or listeners, or readers, or surfers) will gather?

Perhaps broadcast television fans have such a strong allegiance to their favorite shows that they won't be persuaded to switch to other media outlets even when they have to pay for their old one. Or, more realistically, perhaps we have to be honest about the fact that broadcast television's potential new business model may change the way all of us conduct book promotion campaigns.