Social Distancing Forces Old Media to Learn New Tricks


Now, I know it’s April Fools Day, but this one is actually no joke. In the wake of the current crisis, many media companies have had to change their tunes and find alternative means of providing their content.

On the sports networks, countless NASCAR fans are tuning in to their favorite racers playing iRacing on their fancy home driving setups, if not just watching history’s greatest games of their local team for football,baseball,basketball, etc. On the morning talk shows, many have adapted by moving their shows to their homes, occupying offices or kitchens with a webcam and a decent setup to essentially “get the job done”. Thing is, the internet initiated are very familiar with this kind of entertainment since we invented it.

Watching competitive players perform under pressure in a digital stadium is what made justin.tv into the Twitch.tv we know today, not to mention what built the ESL entirely. As far as watching the great historical content, not only does YouTube fill that role aplenty, but even Twitch as well a la the Bob Ross streams, the Pokemon marathons, and countless more examples.

Daytime television, if you couldn’t tell, has been relegated to the same boat as podcasting and vlogging. Prime examples – Dr. Phil is having one-on-one’s through the power of his iPad, Kelly and Ryan are doing…whatever it is they actually do from the safety of their own abodes, and The View isn’t too far behind with it continually likely that several of the members of the yammering wonderful group of ladies will eventually be hosting from home (just like Whoopi Goldberg already did).

Local news isn’t too different either, likely running a ghost crew behind the camera and even in front of it, with the weather man/woman being called from home nowadays to report on what’s raining on our parade next. (The punchline is the parade was already cancelled.) Even the digital subscription services are facing this severe change in production capability, with such examples like Ben Shapiro‘s home now serving as his show’s quaint new background.

When faced with all these developments, the realization sets in that this is rapidly mirroring the content enjoyed (albeit sometimes maligned) on the web. Co-hosting podcasts in a separate place from one another is the core of how Painkiller Already operates. Heck, even prior to their new setups, the Misfits and Lunch Club functioned in such a fashion.

For as long as people on the internet have had something they want to say, they’ve been getting out there with those opinions. Even in more recent years, channels headed by dedicated experts in their fields will discuss important niche topics, like Rekieta Law and his “lawsplaining” to us plebeians, or Doctor Mike and his doctoring thing, or Jordan Peterson and discussing philosophy/theology/psychology. iRacing is just Rocket League with extra (or perhaps fewer) steps, to be quite frank about it – not to mention, now the same media which has a tendency to malign gaming and esports is now broadcasting its typical programming… but now as e-sports.

It might seem like this comes from a place of spite or vindication, but truth be told, the situation more than anything else is a great opportunity. For what feels like the first time in forever, the typical pipeline of quality has been displaced, and this gives all parties countless opportunities.

For starters, collaborative work between the two groups is easier than ever. There’s some merit to the fact that many daytime shows already incorporated digital communication into its entertainment, like face-timing the famous or having phone-in games. But now it can be expanded.

Why not invite some podcast hosts or vloggers on to cohost for a spell? To the esteemed NASCAR racers of the iRacing…league(?), why not expand the competition to include the game’s top players outside of the professional league? Even in the long run, it’s not unlikely that for other crises there are contingency plans formed by these conglomerates, which will be built on the back of your traditional YouTube setup. Frankly if they don’t, they should. It would really be in their best interest to have a few at-home lighting/recording setup bundles at the ready for the next big scare.

This might even be a chance for younger and older media family to bond, or at the very least develop a better mutual understanding of what they like. If anything, there is some merit in attempting to bridge the gap between the traditional and alternative channels, as both can be improved by one another. Especially in trying times like these.



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