Bad Live Television is Better than Any Recorded Television
The thrill of live TV is unbeatable. That's why NBC goes through the horror of producing annual musicals live when elaborate productions are better suited to pre-recording. "Live" is why, whether you love it or not, you respect “Saturday Night Live.”
Do It Yourself, or Bureaucracy is Bad
In the beginning, the Home Shopping Club (which would eventually become the Home Shopping Network) was mass, mass appeal. The products were cheap; often grey market electronic items, cheesy porcelain and fake pearls. I watched it for thousands of hours. I asked Bud who bought the merchandise for the Club?
"I bought everything," he replied.
When in Doubt, Get Off Your Ass and Sell
When things were slow on the Home Shopping Club, Bud would hit the set and lead the on-screen operators with rounds of singing on air. Watching Bud lead 100 employees through God Bless America was not to be missed. Then he'd get on stage with the host and sell. It went like this:
Bud: "Look at this, don't you want this crap?"
The host would express some degree of shock.
Bud: "Oh, it's all crap. No one gets up in the morning wanting this, but you see it and you want it!"
People Want to Join Something
It was no mistake that Bud at first called his network the Home Shopping Club. Indeed, that's why it was a success. To buy a product, you had to join the Club. Callers were called Club Members and when they bought a product the host said, "Congratulations for getting in on the [product of the moment].” His network defined media engagement.
Have a Strong Personal Agenda (His was “Success”)
When he bought radio stations, Bud had many hot, controversial hosts under contract. His strong Christian views sometimes made him uncomfortable with those hosts but he never interfered with the content of their shows; nor did he order them fired. His relationship with the Christian community was powerful in protecting content.
Sometimes You Have to Throw Out the Rules
Bud got rich after 45, when he threw out the rules. He would brag about being viewed as a "mad scientist down in Florida." He was. He hated trade organizations and conformity. Staying in the lines never worked for him. Until he started the Home Shopping Club in middle age, he was poor. He couldn’t even get a MasterCard.
Nobody thought HSC would work. Cable systems didn't want it, investors didn't want it. Vendors were tough. But he stuck with his idea, saw the growth, knew his viewers and prayed.
As owner of the Home Shopping Club he pitched his IPO to a viewership of buyers. As a result, HSC was the fastest, highest opening day stock in the history of the American Stock Exchange: 14 to 63 per share on day one. Have you ever seen a red herring pitch for a new stock on TV? If ever you do, buy that stock. The on-air pitch was only scheduled six times.
Know and Respect Your Audience
With his money he built a church and bought a 727 and several mansions. He was as complex as they come but ultimately he knew how to make a successful show because he respected the audience.
Bud, thanks for giving us permission to be crazy rich.
Walter Sabo is the Chairman of Sabo Media, a company that offers executive-on-demand services. He has worked on-site to build out new digital content platforms such as Sirius/XM. His team was the first to discover the marketing clout of web stars, Internet organic video producers. They founded OMMA award winning HITVIEWS. The company placed brands such as CBS, TiVo and Mountain Dew inside UGC. In FM broadcasting he is a leader in the profitable sector of FM Talk and held executive positions at NBC and ABC Radio. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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