Release Date: 05/29/2014
Rick Ludwin was hired by NBC Entertainment in 1979 and made director of variety shows there in 1980. He then became vice president for specials and variety programs in 1983; senior VP for specials, variety programs and late-night in 1989; and executive VP for NBC’s late-night and prime time series in 2005. In its 57 years, The Tonight Show has had five permanent hosts, and Rick has been the boss of three of them. His late-night division at NBC developed the hit comedy Seinfeld. Rick, a 1970 Miami University grad, joined the Stats+Stories regulars to discuss the use and impact of ratings on television programming
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Bob Long: Variety magazine tells us there’s only one TV executive who’s has the chance to work in one capacity or another with all six of the hosts of NBC’s Tonight Show, from Steve Allen all the way up to Jimmy Fallon. The man we are referring to is a Miami University alum and today you’re going to hear his unique perspective on that sixty year history of the popular late night network television show. I’m Bob Long; we welcome you to another edition of Stats and Stories, a program where we look at the statistics behind the stories and the stories behind the statistics, and our discussion today is going to focus on the impact the ratings have on the longevity of television programs that many of you have come to enjoy. We asked Stats and Stories reporter Emily Potten to help us understand the importance of audience ratings in broadcasting.
Emily Potten: You may wonder --- why did my favorite prime time comedy show just get cancelled? Maybe your favorite local TV newscaster disappears without explanation…or your favorite rock and roll radio station switches to country. These situations happen because America's commercial radio and TV stations depend on advertisers to pay for programs and talent. Advertisers in turn decide where to spend their money based on a complex audience ratings system. The Nielsen ratings are used to determine how many people are tuned in to a particular show on network, cable or local TV programs. Miami University Media and Culture Professor Bruce Drushel teaches a course in audience analysis. He says everyone is competing for advertising dollars aimed at the 18 to 49 age group.
Drushel: Most people don't realize the real customer in the commercial media is not the audience member, but it's the advertiser. And the audience is the product being marketed.
Potten: Joe London spent nearly 50 years in the radio-TV industry. The former radio program director says advertisers look at two numbers to determine where to spend their money, and the first is total potential audience…
London: Let's say there's a hundred people in your city, and 10 percent of those peopleare listening to the radio. That means you have a 10 rating.
Potten: Bruce Drushel says the 2nd key number is audience share, and that can make or break a program.
Drushel: If I have a 10 share, that means 1 in 10 of everybody who is watching television at that particular moment is watching me. Share gives us a relative idea of the competitive strength of a program, in other words, how it's doing against the otherthings that are available that people might be watching at that time.
Potten: Joe London understands the competition for the coveted top rating in a market - and the advertising dollars that generates.
London: The better the ratings, the more money you can make, and a successful station will pour some of that revenue back into the product. It's always the chicken and the egg. It always has been that you got to have ratings to sell. You've got to have sales people to make money so that you can afford to have programming people so that you can afford to have ratings. You've got to have the ratings to sell the commercials to afford the talent, and it's one big circle.
Potten: Professor Bruce Drushel says ratings services face complex problems trying to analyze audiences. The size of a prime-time network TV audience is much smaller today since people have a wider array of choices. Measuring audiences is more difficult since people record shows on their DVR or watch online. He says millions of dollars in ad revenue are at stake.
Drushel: The fractions make an even bigger difference than they used to. And so we might have really big decisions having to do with the placement of a program, the viability of an actor - perceived audience appeal of a particular actor or actress - whether there need to be different writers or a whole different approach to the show, being made on just a couple of tenths of a rating point.
Potten: Media companies often own both radio and TV stations. Drushel says a former general manager of FOX 19 in Cincinnati told him the station delayed launching its local news program. Drushel says the company's radio stations weren't generating enough money to make that possible.
Drushel: Even the audience performance of another medium that they were involved in made a big difference in their ability to do something as critical as news. And of course the interesting thing about that is 19 now devotes a substantial part of their on-air day to news programming and it has become a real profit center for them. They've done very well doing it.
Potten: So the next time you turn on your TV or radio, remember your choices basically help determine which commercials you get to watch or hear. For Stats and Stories, I'm Emily Potten.
Long: Joining me for Stats and Stories are our regular panelists Miami University’s media, journalism, and film department chair Richard Campbell, statistics department chair John Bailer, and our special guest today, NBC consultant Rick Ludwin, the former senior vice president for late night programming and specials. Now Rick, before I ask you a question, I want to clarify one thing for people who are listening. I mentioned you’ve known all of people from Steve Allen in the fifties, all the way to today. I’m not saying you worked at NBC when Steve was there.
John Bailer: How old are you?
Rick Ludwin: One hundred and fifty.
Long: But anyway, I know Steve Allen and Jack Paar preceded you in 1980, but truthfully you had dealings with all of these hosts. Talk a little bit about how you got know both Steve Allen and Jack Paar.
Ludwin: I worked with Steve Allen on a show in 1980 called “The Steve Allen Comedy Hour” on NBC. I had known him, I had met him before in Chicago television and had worked with him and he knew me, so I respected him greatly and he certainly influenced my career in television and he was a wonderful man and I also worked with Jack Paar on two specials on NBC in the mid ‘80s. One was called “Jack Paar Comes Home,” which was a retrospective of his years as the host of the Tonight Show and of a primetime talk show in the ‘60s. Another special called “Jack Paar is Alive and Well,” which had in-person guests and even more clips from his years on the Tonight Show, and he was a character in every sense of the world, a wonderful man, and very intelligent, very witty, and also very emotional, but I of course worked with Johnny Carson when he was the host of the Tonight Show and continue to stay in touch with him once he stepped down from the Tonight Show hosting job, and Jay Leno, of course, all the years that Jay was the host of the show and Conan O’Brien, and now Jimmy Fallon. So it’s been a wonderful association to, as far as I know, the only person who has ever worked with all of the hosts.
Long: Richard Campbell.
Richard Campbell: Well one of the things we’re going to do today, since this is a show about stats and stories, is talk about the story of TV ratings and audience demographics, and mostly what I’m interested in is talking to Rick about his decision making in terms of using numbers to make decisions about programming. What I thought I’d start with was a definition of a TV rating that I learned as a grad student at Northwestern when one of my social science professors gave me this definition, “a rating is a statistical estimate of the number of persons, usually for radio, or the number of households, usually for TV or cable, who tuned in to a particular broadcast or cable program. This estimate is expressed as a percentage of all the persons or households in the market being surveyed.” So I give that to my students and they stare at me, so I have a more simple definition that I give them that I’ve learned over time that one ratings point, cause usually you’ll see in the New York Times a show last week earned a rating of 12, but nobody sort of knows what that means. But one TV ratings point represents about 1% of the nation’s 115 million households, so each rating point represents about 1.1 million people. We know that ratings have been important in television since 1950 when Nielsen started rating television programs, and they do the ratings, there’s months called sweet months: November, February, May, July, where there’s heavy surveying of audience, either through household diaries or through set boxes that are hooked up to people’s television sets. They’re trying to set advertising rates to see what a network can charge for a 30 second commercial. And so one of the things that I think happens in television programming, and you would know this best, is you often have to make decisions based on how well you think a host of a late night program is going to draw audiences, but my first question, I think is about how much you had to pay attention to ratings as an executive at NBC, and how did they inform your decision, how did you, well we’ll start with that part of the question.
Ludwin: Well, the system of ratings is the only way there is to count the house in broadcasting, or in television, and every day when you wake up in the morning, there is an email, it used to be a piece of paper that was lying on your desk, that tells you how the network did the night before, and how the other networks did the night before, and I think in the most basic way, what a rating is is how people showed up. It’s no more complicated than that, and you want as many people to show up as possible, so the higher the rating, the better it is. And of course, conversely, if not enough people showed up, that show may or may not continue to be on the air. That’s the, I guess maybe the easiest way to explain what it’s about, but it’s not different than when a motion picture company opens a movie on a Friday and on Saturday they get emails about how many people paid admissions to see that movie, and if a lot of people paid they’re a hit and if not enough people paid they’re not a hit. And if a car company introduces a new model they know the sales for that particular model and once again that’s how you judge success or failure and that’s true in any business.
Long: John Bailer.
Bailer: So quick follow-up. So you’re saying that on the next day you know how would know what happened the night before; it seems like there’s a lot of volatility in a measure like that just because you’re looking at what’s happening immediately, I mean how long do you want to watch a program to think about if it’s stabilized, because I would imagine there is a trajectory of interest that emerges or maybe there’s a big splash and then there’s a downturn before recovery. You get a sense of how good the show was maybe with the current, the people that showed up on that show, the guests that night, but not necessarily about the legs that a program has long-term. So how do balance the short-term feedback with the longer-term vision about the potential success of the program.
Ludwin: Well that is key, that’s absolutely key to the sort of job that I had at NBC. You need to look at the hard numbers each day, but you can’t go by that alone. You have to look at the product and as you say, there are multiple episodes of the late night show or multiple episodes of a situation comedy and you have to look at the scripts for next week’s show and show after that. Is the script we’re going to do next week as good or better than the one we did this past week? In the case of a nightly show like the Tonight Show, do you see, as you had indicated, a growth curve and are the sketches getting funnier and is the cast working and does the audience seem to like it and are you hearing social buzz on Twitter and on Facebook and do you hear from your relatives and what is the press saying. You add all of those factors together and sometimes if you see positive results of all that other input, you might be willing to take a chance with a lower Nielsen rating in the hope that there’s a core audience that really loves the show and can’t get enough. We see that from Twitter and Facebook and from the press and you’re hoping that will result in a higher Nielsen rating as the weeks go by. That’s the leap of faith you sometimes have to take if you believe in a show and believe that, okay, maybe we don’t have the critical mass of viewers that we need, but we’re going to get them because the product is good.
Bailer: Do you have an example of one where it needed longer legs to see, that you needed to monitor longer?
Campbell: I’ve got an example you can talk about. So when Conan first replaced Leno, there was a little panic because the numbers fell, right?
Ludwin: That’s correct.
Campbell: So what was, what did you think about that?
Ludwin: We had this big shift, numbers fell, and the numbers seemed very important to some people at that point. The same thing had happened when Johnny Carson stepped down as host of the Tonight Show. When Jay Leno took over the Tonight Show in 1992, the numbers went down a little bit because, I believe that loyal viewers who had watched Johnny Carson for years drifted away and started sampling some other things. But what happened is that the numbers eventually went up with Jay and Jay determined that he was going to win this race in the long run and he almost willed it into being that each night they would do a better show than they had done the night before and eventually the audience return and, of course Jay was the leader for seventeen straight years. Another classical example, certainly, is Seinfeld which started off with very shaky Nielsen numbers, but we saw good scripts that were well written, a cast that was really coming together, and there was buzz, before Twitter of course and before Facebook, but I certainly would hear from my relatives in Florida. I knew we were attracting a broader and broader audience as the weeks went on and so we stuck with it because there was just a belief that this product was really good and of course the thing that put it over the top in terms of ratings was when NBC moved the Seinfeld show to Thursday night behind Cheers and Cheers was one of the big hits on television at that point, so Seinfeld benefited the led-in of Cheers, but Seinfeld was really good, the audience discovered that and when Cheers ended its run Seinfeld simply moved from 9:30 PM behind Cheers to 9 PM in place of Cheers and Seinfeld became the number one show for the rest of its run on NBC. So that is certainly a classic example of early Nielsen numbers for a show, Seinfeld, which perhaps in another time and another place maybe another network would have been cancelled, but we stuck with it and obviously it paid huge dividends.
Campbell: What’s the difference between how much time you would give a show today versus back in the ‘90s? In the example you’re talking about with Seinfeld, are networks much quicker to pull a trigger on a show if those ratings aren’t good, or does it depend on a number of factors?
Ludwin: I think it depends on a number of factors that I was just talking about a minute ago. I don’t know that it’s any faster; of course the press tends to accuse networks of pulling the plugs too soon and too early. When that happens, I would bet that it’s not only because of the low rating, but a network looking at the product, as we were talking about a minute ago, and determining that this is not getting better and the audience isn’t showing up now and they may not show up ever based on this material. And sometimes, in that case, you have to cut your losses and move on.
Long: You’re listening to Stats and Stories where we talk about the statistics behind the stories and the stories behind the statistics and today we’re talking about the importance of audience ratings and the decisions that are made about television programming. I’m Bob Long; our special guest today is NBC consultant Rick Ludwin, former senior vice president for late night programming and specials, along with our regular panelists, Miami University statistics department chair John Bailer, and media, journalism, and film chair Richard Campbell. Rick also of course is a Miami alum. Rick, I think the world, once cable came along became so much more competitive and it really took a bite out of the traditional power of the networks and primetime, but I look back at a guy like Johnny Carson. You started your career with Carson; there was just something special about him, nobody wanted to try to take him on. What was it about him that you think that made him such a special person for that time slot?
Ludwin: I think he will always be considered, by hosts who have come into late night since, he will always be considered the gold standard. He was intelligent, very funny, wonderful ad libber, could perform sketches, inquisitive, had many interests, and asked intelligent questions of guests and always tried to set up a guest, whether that guest was an author or a movie star or a comedian, always tried to make the guests looks good and he was very good at setting up a guest in a way that would make the guest shine and was never afraid of having the guest get bigger laughs or more applause. He was comfortable in making sure that the guest felt comfortable and was interesting and was funny. And I think that he was really, he was a nice man, and he was a complete professional, disliked people who were rude or who were unprofessional. He could get unpleasant very quickly around people who were unprofessional, but if you were professional and you had manners, he was fine; he was a complete professional, and a wonderful man to work with. One of the real perks of having the job that I had for all those years was getting to know him and being able, even after he left the Tonight Show, to still have lunch with him once or twice a year and I would always prepare for it as if I were a guest on the Tonight Show. We were only going to lunch, but I would prepare for it. Oh, I can tell him the story about buying the car; I can tell him the story about taking the trip to Montana, that’s a good story. I would plan for it. And he was a wonderful audience. To make Johnny Carson laugh was about as wonderful a feeling as you could get; it was just great to make him laugh.
Long: I just want to go back to another thing, because you kind of touched on it, the ratings kind of dipped a little bit when Jay Leno succeeded Carson, was that something you kind of anticipated knowing okay, this guy’s been on the air thirty years, things are going to change right now.
Ludwin: Yes, we did anticipate it, and as a matter of fact more recently, when Jimmy Fallon took over as the host of the Tonight Show, I expected, along with a lot of other people, I expected sort of the same thing to happen, that viewers who had been loyal to Jay Leno for all those years might drift away, at least for a time and maybe sample something else. What happened however, when Jimmy Fallon took over the tonight show is that the numbers went up, not only in the demographic, the adults 18-46 number, but also in total viewers, meaning the whole audience, they call it 2+, meaning age two to all the way up. Generally speaking, that reference usually refers to the 50+ audience. Generally you hear the expression “total audience.” What that means really is the 50+ age group, and the numbers for Jimmy Fallon on the Tonight Show, so far have indicated that both the demographic, the 18-49 adult demographic which is what advertisers will pay a premium to reach, that number has gone up and also the total audience number has gone up. So you need to wait for a period of time, as you were saying John, to really see where the numbers have settled in, but certainly the early returns for Jimmy Fallon hosting the Tonight Show are very positive.
Campbell: I want to follow up on the, you brought up the word “demographics,” and for our audience, demographics is about the study of audiences, usually by different categories like age, gender, race, class, economic status and the sort of gold standard in advertising has always been this 18-49, you mentioned it. And that’s been true for as long as I’ve been teaching TV history and I’m wondering, with the population getting older, is this a number that probably needs to be examined and looked at again? I can remember periods in TV history when I talk about it, for example, back in the early ‘70s CBS had a number of shows like Hee Haw and the Red Skelton Show and Green Acres that had very high numbers, a big audience, but the network considered it was the wrong audience because they were skewing older, older than 18-49 or very young and they threw those shows off the air even though I think Red Skelton at the time was number seven at one point. So, I mean we have that sort of history, but you mentioned 18-49, do you think that’s got to, do you think there needs to be a tweaking, an adjustment there?
Ludwin: My opinion doesn’t matter. What matters is what the advertisers want and the primary customer of network television is advertisers. And what they have made crystal clear, even recently, is what they will pay a premium to reach is adults 18-49. So if there were a representative from CBS in this room right now, CBS’s position is that yes, they would like the yardstick to be adults 25-54 because CBS tends to have a somewhat older audience watching their programs and television in general, at least broadcast television, tends to be skewing a little bit older. So CBS’s position is they want the advertisers to recognize adults 25-54 because they want to fish where the fish are. The advertisers, at least so far, have said no. So that is what’s driving the business and we can debate whether I think or you think or anybody thinks that should change, but the fact is advertisers are not going to change, at least not so far.
Long: John Bailer.
Bailer: I would like to follow up with sort of thinking about the technology changes and the impact on the demographic target. So I’m thinking about all the streaming options that you have for viewing content in other ways, how does this affect kind of, what’s happening with advertisers and their interactions with program planning and I’m even wondering how you evaluate the audience for some of these things that are being DVRed or being streamed or other technology.
Ludwin: Well that’s a key question. There’s no question about it, Nielsen has tried to come up with methodology that counts those sorts of viewing experiences, which we know more people consume television by way of streaming or by way of Hulu or Netflix or through a smartphone or a tablet. Nielsen has started to come up with ways to count that and to figure out whether, let’s say someone is watching a show on their DVR after it’s been originally broadcasted, they recorded it on their DVR and watched it at a later time, Nielsen is I hope accurately being able to figure out how many of those viewers watching that DVR playback watched the commercials themselves, or simply fast-fowarded through them because the advertisers only want to pay for the viewers who actually watched the commercials. So when an advertiser goes to a network to buy a spot in a network show, the advertiser doesn’t want to pay for the rating for the show, the advertiser wants to pay for the rating of the people who actually watched the commercials, which is called C3, a commercial which the viewer watches either live or within three days. That’s what advertisers have indicated they will base their pricing on is C3. So that number usually is lower than the show rating, which of course it’s the job of the ad agencies to try to get the price down as much as possible, of course it’s the job of the network to get the price up, so there’s this dance that goes on between networks and advertisers as to what the rate is that they pay. But once again, advertisers have made it crystal clear, and there was a long negotiation that settled on this C3 number. That’s the number advertisers will pay for. So people watching a DVR playback that fast-forward through the commercials, the advertisers don’t want to pay for that, but some networks want the number to be C7, in other words, the commercial rating plus seven days because that number of course is greater, and therefore, the network can charge more for that, but the advertisers, at least so far, are saying no to that because, for instance if you are Federated Department Stores and you have a sale going on over a weekend, you don’t want day four through seven. You don’t want to pay for those days because the sale may be over by then. Or if you have a movie that’s opening up on a Friday, you don’t want seven days later, you want that weekend audience to go see your movie; you don’t want to pay for those extra days. So far advertisers have said no to the C7 standard, that is commercial either live or seven days after, they want to stick with C3.
Long: You’re listening to Stats and Stories. Again we’re focusing this time on the impact of TV ratings on network programming and also the issue of demographics for shows. I’m Bob Long. Our regular panelists are Miami University’s media, journalism, and film department chair Richard Campbell and statistics department chair John Bailer. And our special guest this time, NBC consultant Rick Ludwin, former senior vice president for late night programming and specials. Richard Campbell, I’ll go to you for the next question.
Campbell: Rick, I wanted to ask you, what do you think’s going to happen with late night programs? I mean these are programs that in many ways, the formats haven’t changed very much in fifty or sixty years and you have this younger audience out there and I’ve heard you talk about this before, they’re not watching TV the way my generation watched it, the way even my 30-year-old children are using and accessing television in all kinds of ways. And I know even the recent change at CBS with Stephen Colbert being picked to follow David Letterman has something to do with his, you know on the Colbert Report he has a median age of 43 and I think Jimmy Fallon’s is about 54, which is five or six years younger than what Letterman and maybe Leno had at the end of his time there. So with all of this change going on, how durable is this sort of late night format? And do you anticipate some things that are going to shake it up in the next few years?
Ludwin: Well I would like to think, for obvious reasons, I would like to think that America’s desire to end their day with a smile on their face and hearing a comedic take on the news for that particular day, I’m hoping that is something the audience will continue to want to experience. As you know, most of the late night shows are taped the same day they are broadcast. They’re very timely. They’re like a daily newspaper; you get to hear what is going on that day and the host usually makes comedy out of the day’s events. I would like to think that as long as the product is good, the audience will still want that experience. Now, are there ways that late night is changing even now? Yes, I mean, at least at the present time, the leader, in terms of young adults watching television in the late night, is the Cartoon Network and a show called Adult Swim. That’s where a high concentration of adults 18-49 and 18-34 are watching television. But I don’t think that has necessarily cannibalized the existing late night comedy shows. I think it’s added to the audience. I happen to believe that late night is a bit elastic in that a good show that comes on the air doesn’t necessarily cannibalize what’s already there; it adds to the audience. The pie gets bigger. But the Cartoon Network, Adult Swim show is a very formidable competitor in late night.
Long: As we talked about, so many young people no longer sit down and watch the TV set, they’re watching on the internet. But I also know that Jimmy Fallon, I think, has exploited something here. A lot of his videos go viral and students who haven’t, for example here at Miami, I hear them talking about how they watched something, but they didn’t watch the show, they watched viral videos. Is that a trend you also see happening to help promote what’s going on?
Ludwin: There’s no question about that and Jimmy Fallon in particular happens to be a tech geek. He loves Twitter, he’s loves all of that Instragram. He made a conscious decision, as did Lorne Michaels, the executive producer of the Jimmy Fallon show to have a presence on the internet even before they went on the air at 12:30 in the morning, that before they premiered at 12:30 in 2009, Jimmy and his producers and his writers were posting videos on the internet. And you would see Jimmy who would take you on a tour of the set that was then under construction or you would see Jimmy in his office and 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York working with writers and coming up with segments for the show. This was before they went on the air which all of this continued when they did go on the air, and as you say, they love it when they can post a two or three minute clip because that’s what internet users really tend to want, is short clips that are funny with people they know and like. That’s what internet users want to see. So Jimmy has definitely exploited that method of reaching potential viewers. I believe Jimmy is now up to about 10 million Twitter followers and he often will tweet out a question, they do a weekly segment called hashtags and Jimmy will send out to his 10 million Twitter followers and also talk about it on the air, a topic, for instance, strange things that happened when I went to summer camp and he’ll ask for Twitter followers to tweet in strange things that happened to them at summer camp and then the writers select what they think are the funniest responses and then the next night Jimmy will do that as a segment called hashtags. So he has nurtured and encouraged that two-way communication with the audience.
Bailer: As you look at all the changes that are changing, how has the use of ratings changed over time?
Ludwin: Yes, I would say that the change that I’ve noticed over the years is that, of course, the Nielsen information has become more sophisticated and more plentiful and sometimes I think people who have network programming jobs will look for any sort of slice of that Nielsen profile that encourages a network to stick with a show. For instance, sometimes there are shows that appear to be low rated if you look at the raw numbers alone, but they’ll say, “Well, this show has a very high, the average income of the audience that watches this show is very high,” and therefore, it’s a small audience, but it’s a premium audience because these are high income households and advertisers are willing to pay a premium for that. Cable networks tend to do that more than broadcast networks do that more than broadcast networks do. Cable networks will point out that well yes, it might look small, but it’s a premium audience for this reason or that reason, so you can, as I guess with any statistic, you can slice it in a way that’s advantageous for your position.
Bailer: I hope that’s not true for any statistic, in a malicious use sense.
Ludwin: Well I wouldn’t call it malicious; I would just call it looking for any edge you can find. I think that’s probably a little more true in cable situations than it is for broadcast network.
Long: Running out of time, but we’ll go to Richard Campbell for another question.
Campbell: Rick, I’m going to ask you, John doesn’t like this so much, to speculate a little bit here. The business model of the newspaper industry, we’ve seen it collapse over the last ten to fifteen years and I want you to talk a little bit about the future of broadcast television and if they are adapting better to the challenges of cable, which you mentioned, the internet, new technology than the way young people consume TV. How do you think the traditional networks that most of us here grew up with are going to fare going forward?
Ludwin: That is a real challenge, and I think central to the planning, certainly to NBC and I’m sure at the other networks as well. Because there’s a dilemma, I think in a sense a good dilemma, but there’s a dilemma. There’s this model that broadcast networks have had in place for seventy plus years, going all the way back to the radio days where an NBC network or CBS or ABC sends out programs to 214 affiliated stations, each of the networks has about 214 affiliated stations, each market has a CBS affiliated, NBC affiliated, and ABC affiliated and the network sends out these programs, the local stations put them on the air, the network sells advertising time in those programs, the local stations sell time in the programs, people make money, networks still make money and it’s this model, as I say that’s been around for sixty or seventy years and it still works. But the future, whether in ten of fifteen years there will still be a need for those 214 affiliated stations with transmitters and whether the system will morph into all internet or other methods of delivery, Hulu or Netflix; no one quite knows yet and a lot of smart people and a lot of smart companies are betting a lot of money as to what the future is going to be and maybe they’re going to be right and maybe they’re not going to be right. But certainly there’s nothing written in the Constitution that says there has to be a CBS or NBC or ABC and so it’s up to those broadcast networks, those legacy broadcast networks to adapt to whatever the future brings because none of them wants to wind up in the dustbin of forgotten companies. But that’s what happened to record stores and that’s what has happened in retailing and so you cannot stand still if you’re one of the broadcast networks. You have to adapt to the future, but you’ve got this lucrative model, the car is moving. You’re asking the networks to change the tires while the care is still moving, or you’re asking them to sell the car and buy a bicycle instead. How do you do that when you still have this legacy model, business model that still works to a great extent? That’s the challenge that all the broadcast networks have. I happen to feel, I’ve always felt that the software side of the business is more important, and I don’t mean computer software, by software I mean programming. The good programming is something that the audience will figure out how to get. If they want to see House of Cards, they’ll subscribe to Netflix and they’ll figure out how it works and how it streams or if they want to see Mad Men because they heard it’s a good show, they’ll find out where AMC is on their menu of options on their home and they’ll watch AMC. They may not even know what AMC stands for, they may not watch anything else on AMC, they want to see Mad Men. The audience has told us time and again that they will turn over rocks to find good programming. The hardware side of things, by that I mean the method by which the program gets to consumers, at least to me, is of less interest. Somebody else will figure that out and it’s always going to be changing, so that’s a more difficult business to manage because we know that television sets change, no longer are there standard-def televisions, now it’s all high-def and the methodology that the signal gets to the user is of less interest, at least to me, strong programming will always rule and that’s what viewers will turn over rocks to find.
Campbell: Thank you.
Long: Rick Ludwin, thank you very much for sharing all your expertise on networking programming from your thirty plus years at NBC. We really appreciate you being on Stats and Stories.