Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Now I'm Current

Remember when MTV was the channel for those with ADD? At least on MTV their programs typically lasted 30 minutes or more.

This last weekend, I spent some time watching the newly launched TV network, Current, and I have been tuning in off and on this week as well. Most of their programs (they call them pods) last less than ten minutes. Some as few as two.

For the uninitiated (including the 80 percent of cable households who don't have Current), let me fill in a few details. Current launched a little more than a week ago and aims to be a station of, by and for 18- to 34-year-olds. They seek the participation of that audience by enticing them to create their own pods (they even tell you what they're looking for and give you tips on how to do it) and  "greenlighting" (or not) the submissions of others. The pods are diverse and the ones I saw on TV ranged from interesting to boring to bizarre. Syndication? No need. The pods were often repeated two hours later and when I turned Current on this week, I saw mostly pods I had watched during the weekend. (Maybe we need to greenlight a few more).

All new networks have challenges and Current has plenty, not the least of which is that they are trying to get people to watch TV in a different way. First of all, I don't watch networks, I watch programs. I like The Simpsons, but I don't stick with Fox after it's over to watch Family Guy. I like Best Week Ever, but I find the remainder of VH1's programming nearly unwatchable. With Current, you have no idea what's coming next unless you go to their web site. They're asking you to watch the network...not a particular show.

What's more, because of their mission (see above) they have NO CELEBRITIES, which in TV-land is almost unforgivable. Even much of the dreaded "reality" TV drivel keeps those people on long enough to develop some celebrity. Current may find themselves needing to do this with some of their pod creators if they want to develop a following. In fact, the launch of Current should be exhibit A in building a case against the celebrity-driven nature of our society. I couldn't find a single story on the launch that didn't prominently mention Al Gore, despite the fact that his name was never spoken and his image was never shown during the hours I spent watching Current.

There's also still a few bugs to work out. Apparently, the station went black on it's first day and when I registered at their web site, here's part of the text on the welcome page: You're in! You're now a member of the Current Studio.

CurrentBut all-in-all it's an interesting concept. They seem to have bet the farm on the idea that citizen-generated media that has swept the Internet can be transfered to cable television. I'm at least curious enough to keep watching and have added "getting a pod played on Current" to my list of life goals. Some skeptics think the network might not make it, but I say if the Hallmark Channel can make it, why not Current?

No comments: