The Beverly Billionaires, Or How to Make Podcasts Profitable

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Cover image for  article: The Beverly Billionaires, Or How to Make Podcasts Profitable

Take a good look at the photo above. Through the 1970's those four faces drove about a billion dollars to CBS and producer Mark Goodson. They were the original stars of “The Match Game.” From 1973-1982 they dominated daytime TV ratings and profits. Same scenery year to year. Incredibly small prizes. Absolutely no challenging Q&As.

To this day, there are people who set their DVRs to record “The Match Game.” The show did not change TV, culture, our perspective, commerce or viewer habits. “The Match Game” did something more interesting: It entertained us for thousands of hours -- out of nothing.

Panelists Charles Nelson Reilly (left), Brett Somers and Richard Dawson (right) and host Gene Rayburn were working actors, directors and show people; real hoofers. Prior to “The Match Game” they held multiple jobs to pay their rent. They were never stars in any other medium. Or, as Brett Somers said when asked what she was paid for “The Match Game,” “I made about $100,000 a year, which was a lot of money for who I was not.”

“The Match Game” gave the quartet in the photo their stage for stardom. Their personalities made the game appealing. But look at the picture again. The odds of them being stars were bad! Seeing this picture of them taken steps away from their podiums diminishes their appeal. We "need" them behind their desks, markers in hand.

Every medium creates its own stars. Rarely can a star of one medium transfer his or her appeal to another medium. You will now try to think of examples that prove me wrong.  You will be challenged to come up with five examples of stars from one medium who became stars in another medium because there aren't five examples. The best I can come up with is Will Smith, Michael J. Fox and Bruce Willis. Did you ever see a Lucille Ball movie? Terrifying.

Movie stars are not digital stars. Proven media, such as radio, film and TV is progressively attempting to create content for digital platforms. Media execs fruitlessly try to push established stars onto new digital stages. YouTube wasted millions trying to make Hollywood movie stars into online video stars. Didn't work.

Online video stars were already on digital platforms and they were ignored by YouTube until I started HitViews -- the first company to reveal that online video had created new stars. Other companies such as Yahoo would be wise to write the checks to recruit established online video stars rather than folks like Katie Couric.

Podcasts were the buzz of the recent NAB Radio convention in Atlanta. The issue is -- how to monetize?  The answer is that Podcasts require new formatting and new stars. Taking a radio show and posting it online results in a bad show. Making a show specifically for the new medium of digital audio is the answer. Example? Watch GABnet.net.

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