Probably the best example of how little impact television can have came recently with the airing of Spike Lee's documentary of the making of Michael Jackson's Bad. This was basically a 90 minute commercial for the re-issue of the album during prime time of one of the best television viewing nights of the year, and it sold only 11,000 albums the next week as a result.
Let's go over that again - Michael Jackson, big album, Thanksgiving evening, 11k!
The worse thing is that it was a really great program, showing another side of Michael that few have ever seen, along with much of the backstory of the making of a big-selling album. Granted, the record is 25 years old and MJ's music isn't currently hot, but it would have been interesting to see if a similar show on Justin Bieber or Lady Gaga (or even Psy for that matter) would've done any better. Maybe a bit, but I doubt it.
Several things are changing at once here. Television is losing it's impact, and people are getting more used to subscription music instead of buying it. I bet a lot of the audience that were motivated to listen to MJ afterwards just fired up Spotify or Pandora or Grooveshark or ..........
The fact of the matter is that I think more copies of Bad might've been sold with an online marketing campaign, and it would've been a lot cheaper.
The estate of MJ no doubt made some big dollars from the network, but the show just proved that we're in a state of evolution in all media. Hang on for ride!
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