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Future of TV the Young Turks Cenk Uygur

2016 TV Year in Review: Cenk Uygur, Founder and CEO, The Young Turks

By Cenk Uygur, Founder and CEO


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December 19, 2016 | 4 min read

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The below post is part of Found Remote's 2016 Year in Review guest post series and is written by Cenk Uygur, Founder and CEO, The Young Turks.


There are three branches of TV going forward. Short form digital, long form OTT and the rare live TV viewing experience. The fourth branch - linear TV - is dead, dead, dead. If there is still anyone saying, "Wait I've got to rush home to catch my favorite show at 8 o'clock," they're doing it at a senior citizens center.

Now, everyone pretends to know this but since a lot of us in the industry are above the age of 35, we don't really believe it. There are a shocking number of industry executives who can't wrap their mind around people watching videos on YouTube as their primary source of entertainment. And, of course, advertisers are the slowest of all. They still think that people are watching Fantasy Island. They don't realize they live on that island.

In the old days there was a limited pool of content, so the TV networks didn't offer what the people wanted - they were a captive audience anyway - they offered what the advertisers wanted. And sponsors wanted nothing but vanilla. They had 100% of the country watching three stations and their go-to move was - don't offend anyone and shove that product down their throats. Now, you're screwed if that's your strategy. There is an ocean of content and no one will watch your brand-sanitized vanilla anymore because they have unlimited options. And they won't sit through your ad if they can possibly help it. Advertisers must, must take more chances and find a way to reach audiences in the new media.

I'm focusing so much on sponsors here because they are the ones driving the content on linear TV, and the ones killing it. Shows designed toward them are almost certainly designed for failure. In the new ocean of content you must actually care about your audience and try very hard to serve them.

So, the content that's going to win is either going to have some utility or entertainment value in short bursts that can be shared with friends or be long form entertainment that is desirable enough to make it into a skinny bundle. If you're not phat, you won't get into a skinny.

And of course there is the gold standard - live programming compelling enough to be a campfire for a sizable audience. Sports are the most common example but I believe that news is an excellent second winner in that category. Ok, I'm a little biased since I run a news network, but I think this election season has certainly helped my thesis.

What we do at TYT is make long form content (OTT) that can be chopped up into bite-sized pieces (VOD) or viewed live as big news events are happening. On Election Night we broke the internet with over a million hours of viewing on a livestream in one day!

Then if you’re compelling enough to sell your own subscriptions, you’re solid gold. We quadrupled our paying subscribers this year for one simple reason – we care about our audience and make serving them our number one priority.

So, get busy getting interesting or get busy dying. Nobody is buying vanilla anymore. And no one is going to pay for a ton of content they don't want and never asked for in the first place. Get short, get long, get live or get lost.

Future of TV the Young Turks Cenk Uygur

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