Ideology and high demanders

By Eric Crampton 17/04/2015

Ideology could be what winds up killing Campbell Live, but it could save it too.

To recap: Twitter’s been a-buzz with speculation that there some vast right wing conspiracy within TV3 that’s out to get John Campbell. If it were true, I expect I’d be called up for comment on TV3 a lot more than the … almost never… that happens now. Richard Meadows’ take over at Stuff is likely the right one: it’s just ratings.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that ideology doesn’t matter.

Fox News went from zero percent market share to almost half the market in about two years because all the other media outlets sat a bit to the left of centre: a big chunk of the potential audience wasn’t being served. On the other side, if you go a bit too far out in advocacy journalism of a certain bent, you’re left with a tail of potential viewership consisting of a lot of people who don’t seem much interested in watching live TV. I don’t mean that in any derogatory sense – John Campbell seemed about the only person able to help anybody in a fight with EQC during the Christchurch quakes. But the crusading-activism television has a limited, albeit intense, audience.

And so being a bit too far on an ideological fringe can hurt viewership while ensuring a very deep and committed loyalty among those who do view and among those who are just happy it exists. That is not a model consistent with advertising-based funding, unless the committed viewership are also an especially advertising-targeted demographic. But it does sound like something that could be funded by an annual subscription fee among supporters.

I wonder why nobody who’s launching petitions has instead considered trying a PledgeMe campaign. It wouldn’t have to cover all of the costs of Campbell Live, just the difference between what MediaWorks would get from Campbell Live and what it would get from the better rating alternative.

Seems a more effective thing to try than internet petitions and speculations about whether the guy who owns the network is evil. I wonder how much each of the 60,000 petitioners would need to pledge to make this work.