Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
December 25, 2009 7:44 PM

An Open Letter To Charlie Rose

Dear Mr. Rose,

I'm a huge fan of your show. I can't watch it all of the time (I'm a bit of an early-riser, so staying up past 11:30 pm and being able to focus becomes complex), but I never want to miss a moment of your show. It used to be easy enough. You used to have the videos for all of your interviews not only posted on your website, but on Google Video as well. I was able to not only enjoy them, but embed them here on this Blog, and spread the good word that is the Charlie Rose Show with everyone who is connected here.

Something changed and I don't know why.

In the past little while, I've noticed that your website has changed. Sure, you stream some of the recent episodes, but they're all locked in a Flash player now and the archive of the older episodes are gone (but it's weird because some are still there). I can no longer share them all (only some), embed them (only some) or even find things in an easy and accessible way on your website. This is making me sad and confused. From what I can tell, your show runs mostly on PBS and the money derived from it is either by endowment, donation or by "viewers like you" (there are never commercials). I'm happy to pay. I'm happy to make my yearly donation to public television in support of great content like your show, and I'm happy to pay even more (I'd even do it directly to the owners of The Charlie Rose Show) to be able to watch it when I want, how I want and where I want it (I'm fine if you don't want me sharing the video content too).

But before we stop all of that sharing, let's really look at the situation.

I'm probably on the younger side of your target demographic. In the coming years, you're no doubt going to experience some of the turbulence that other traditional media is facing. I know you know this, because you've had in-depth conversations on your show with people like Malcolm Gladwell, Ken Auletta, Chris Anderson, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Marc Andreessen, Michael Arrington and many others. You understand the changes and how New Media is challenging traditional mass media. Why not let people watch all of your interviews via Google Video and YouTube (how about even selling them on iTunes) in one cohesive manner? There's nothing stopping you from running pre-roll and post-roll commercials. You can even put them in-between the segments if you so choose. I think I speak for all of your fans when I say that we're all willing to watch commercials when they're wrapped around so much valuable content and insight. Isn't that the whole point of the advertising in the fist place? Putting a specific brand message in front of people who are interested in Charlie Rose?

Why not extend it online fully and in a comprehensive way?

This model isn't perfect for every type of TV show (then again, maybe it is!), but it is perfect for your show. People who love you (like I do), will probably talk more about you, tell their family, friends and co-workers about one of your stimulating conversations and - ultimately - really help to grow your audience. If your advertising model is not based on the same tenets as traditional TV (which it doesn't seem to be), how can opening up your content online be a bad thing?

I hope you'll consider this plea.

I want more great Charlie Rose conversations in my life and I want to share them with everyone I know. I don't mind the commercials or sponsorship announcements... in fact, I love them because those brands, products and services are doing something very important: they're supporting great content like yours. In turn, I am a proud supporter of brands that think (and act) in that manner.

Please consider changing how people can get your content (and where they can get it). Make it easier and make it cohesive. Something tells me you'll earn more fans, faster which will lead to newer fans and more longevity and depth for your amazing work.

By Mitch Joel