B.S., the secret to category-5 ratings by Jim Walter

Cross posted with permission

Memorial Day is history.  Summer’s here, along with two of our most popular seasonal pastimes:  Watching hurricanes and whining about sky-rocketing gas prices.

Fun stuff first.  For sheer lunacy, nothing beats surrealistic images of 150-mph hurricane winds wreaking chaos in the streets of Biloxi or Miami.  Rain-soaked news reporters imitate crash-test dummies dangling in a wind-tunnel, as they dodge Bar-B-Q pits and traffic lights flying overhead.  100 ways to die?  Gets my attention.

Now the heavy junk.  For raising consumer awareness, what’s better than self-righteous sanctimony at the top of the news hour?  No sooner do vacationers hit the roads, when caravans of media clowns follow, bleating and sputtering in a grand show of outrage about the pain of high pump prices.  Now how gassy is that?

Not to be overlooked, note how the media milks both events for one goal:  to boost ratings.  Oil companies could learn valuable ratings lessons from the television broadcast media.  Take a look at what they have in common:

Television and the oil industry both deliver a product that’s consumed by nearly every U.S. citizen, race, creed or sex notwithstanding.  Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets.

Second, both industries use tall, sturdy towers for the extraction and transmission of their products.  One probes the pore spaces of the earth’s crust, while the other penetrates the air space of the earth’s atmosphere.

The most significant similarity is the greatest difference.  The oil industry produces basal sediment (B.S.) and water with its hydrocarbons.  B.S. is a nuisance by-product and state laws required it be disposed.  It’s tolerated as an expense until the disposal costs can no longer be sustained by a well’s declining revenues.  As a rule, B.S. is inversely proportional to an oil producer’s profitability.

Television produces B.S. with its programming, too.  Unlike the oil industry, however, TV isn’t required to treat its B.S. except in extreme cases.  “PG” disclaimers work wonders.  In television, B.S. has a different effect, in that the thicker it gets, the greater the ratings and the more revenues extracted from advertisers.  Now the rule reverses itself – B.S. is directly proportional to a broadcaster’s profitability.

The conclusion?  What’s loss to the producer is sauce to the anchor.  And that’s the way it is.  Have a great summer!

1 Comment

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One response to “B.S., the secret to category-5 ratings by Jim Walter

  1. Ting

    Hilarious! I would just like to add that I get a memo last night that on Thursday, June 9 Brent crude was selling for $118 a barrel. Brent is more expensive than the normally quoted price, which is based on the price at a particular location at a hub in Oklahoma, which sometimes has a backlog of supply at that particular location. This is not an encouraging sign.