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Greg Ball
Looking for advice and ideas
on Dec 13, 2016 at 8:56:47 pm

I'm working on creating a TV series that features different experts with a segment dedicated to each person's expertise. I don't want to give away my idea here, but let's say that I wanted to create a show that features different scientific experts and projects they are working on.

With the help of sponsors, we would research and write the shows, feature the experts doing what they do, and create a season's worth of compelling shows.

My initial thought was to localize these shows for my local market. However local Comcast cable only puts these shows onto one subscription channel. That wouldn't excite potential sponsors. So I'm thinking I need to get networks interested before I can get a sponsor, or series of sponsors. For example, getting the A&E network, or Discovery to be interested and excited to purchase our show

Any suggestions on how you would approach this?

Thanks so much!

Greg Ball, President
Ball Media Innovations, Inc.
https://www.ballmediainnovations.com


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Bob Zelin
Re: Looking for advice and ideas
on Dec 13, 2016 at 10:15:10 pm

come on Greg -
Ship Shape TV in Florida buys their own time. They have a specialty show on Yacht's, and they buy the time on Fox Sports, and feature the sponsor. You just want to create a show that is just "cool" and Discovery is going to buy this show ? You can buy 30 minutes on any channel - just show them the money - let your client pay for it. 12 clients, 12 shows, an entire season. Oh, you want Discovery to pay for this ? Or A&E ? Do what everyone else does - create a pilot, pitch the show, get rejected 20 times, and if you are lucky, and low budget enough, somone will pick up # 21.
Welcome to Florida.

Bob Zelin

Bob Zelin
Rescue 1, Inc.
bobzelin@icloud.com


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Tim Wilson
Re: Looking for advice and ideas
on Dec 13, 2016 at 10:38:54 pm

[Bob Zelin] "Ship Shape TV in Florida buys their own time. They have a specialty show on Yacht's, and they buy the time on Fox Sports, and feature the sponsor."

That's how we built our video production business in the Florida Keys. We bought the half-hour block from the station, and got individual sponsors to pick up an incremental part of our tab. We and the station also split the ad spots -- the station took half of them, and we could sell the other half at retail (only to have the station try to undercut us by selling at rates we weren't allowed to match)...

...but it still turned out to be a great thing. We put together 5 shows over an 8 year span -- usually at least 2 in production at the same time, but briefly, FOUR at once (don't do that LOL) -- with hundreds of episodes. This model absolutely works. It's faster than Kickstarter, plus you don't have to come up with prizes.

The trick is that you can never stop hustling. But you like to hustle, right? 😎

I honestly do HIGHLY recommend this model, and wish more people would pursue it. Great fun.

Hey, here's a production story of mine from one such show: "Before I forget - don't wear any underwear!"



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Shane Ross
Re: Looking for advice and ideas
on Dec 13, 2016 at 11:13:27 pm

The only way to get the attention from networks like A&E and History and Discovery and Nat Geo...that level...is to already have a relationship with them, or people who work there. And yes, that it a total pain in the butt. HOW do you get to know them? Well, work at companies that do and get to know them that way. Working up the chain. And when they move to other networks, GREAT! Your reach has now increased.

But what is someone with no contacts who has a show idea going to go about this? You need to find companies that have those relationship, and pitch your show to them and have them as a producing partner. Exactly HOW involved they get in your projects depends on what you work out. But that's how you do it. I've been at companies that brought on shows pitched to them, and been with companies that needed to partner with others just to get a foot in the door. Odd how this works , but that's it.

And you can't pitch to them without representation...an entertainment lawyer present, a meeting set up by them or an agent. People want to protect themselves from the idea, so that they aren't accused of stealing it. And you need representation in order to protect your idea.

I'm just an editor and don't know ALL the ins and outs, but I know the gist. I mean, Mark Hamill and a producing partner came to a company I worked at once to pitch an idea that he wanted to get on a network, and he knew, even though he was MARK FLIPPING HAMILL that he needed a company with a relationship in order to do this.

Shane
Little Frog Post
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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Greg Ball
Re: Looking for advice and ideas
on Dec 14, 2016 at 12:12:29 am

Thanks everyone.

Just to clarify, I'm wondering how to buy air time on local television affiliates. I'm not sure who to contact.

And does anyone have any tips on how to go about getting sponsors?

My desire is to start by offering a local show featuring local experts, charge them to be part of the show to promote their expertise and businesses, and get sponsors also if possible. I think I have a topic that would work. Has anybody else done this?

Tim Wilson, what you mentioned is similar to what I'm looking at doing. It's very interesting. I'd be grateful if I could chat with you for a few minutes to pick your brains about how you accomplished this in the Keys. Would you have a few minutes tomorrow or Thursday morning to chat?

Please email me your contact info and the best time for us to chat.

I think the last time I spoke with you was when I was learning Media 100 and you were training folks.

Thanks much!

Greg Ball, President
Ball Media Innovations, Inc.
https://www.ballmediainnovations.com


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Bob Zelin
Re: Looking for advice and ideas
on Dec 14, 2016 at 1:43:22 pm

Just to clarify, I'm wondering how to buy air time on local television affiliates. I'm not sure who to contact.

REPLY - that's the easy part. You call the receptionist at your local TV station (I assume you drive past the local TV station in your area on a regular basis) and say these exact words "hi, I'd like to purchase some advertising time". Or if you want cable time, you call Brighthouse Networks or Time Warner or Comcast or Cox Cable local sales office, and say the exact same thing "hi - I'd like to buy some advertising time". Here in Orlando, Brighthouse (now called Spectrum, who also now owns Time Warner) advertises themselves on TV, showing small companies in 30 second spots, saying "ever since I started to advertise on Brighthouse, my business has picked up 300 %". That's what every TV station, and cable system live for - to take your money for advertising time. A simple call to a receptionist will put you in touch with the right person. Then you say "I am interested in buying 30 minutes of time".


And does anyone have any tips on how to go about getting sponsors?
REPLY - lets say that there is a great Lasik eye surgeon in your area, that does some of his own local advertising. Here in Orlando, there is a Dr. named Conrad Fillotowski. I see, as I browse thru the channel guide on my cable system, he has a dedicated 30 minute show on Lasik surgery, featuring of course, Dr. Conrad Fillotowski. I see this all the time. This is a 30 minute commercial, made into a "show". So - how do you find Dr. Fillotowski, and get him to spend $100,000 on air time, and your production fees ? The SAME WAY I get Greg Ball to hire me as an engineer. "Hello, is this Greg Ball - Hi - this is Bob Zelin, I am a video engineer in Orlando that builds and maintains video facilities and shared storage systems, I'd like to be able to come on down to your place in West Palm, and meet with you to see your facility, and how I can assist you with your technical needs". Of course, when I call you, you won't take my call, so I keep calling you, and soliciting you with emails and phone calls, and mailings, until you finally get sick and tired of throwing out and deleting my solicitations, and finally meet with me. And you now do this to everyone of the "scientific experts" that you want to feature in your show, and perhaps one or two of them will say YES. WOW - now you are a production company. And once you convince your local plastic surgeon to do it, perhaps now, you can convince the local ambulance chaser lawyer to have a show on how they can sue every business in your area for "slip and fall".

Of course, since you are in West Palm, near Palm Beach, perhaps you could start hanging out at the bar/restaurants on Palm Beach, and being the friendly guy that you are, start conversations with rich folks in these establishments at the bars, and tell them that you are a television producer, and HOW WOULD THEY LIKE TO INVEST in your next project, which will feature their beautiful granddaughter, so she can be on TV ?


Bob Zelin

Bob Zelin
Rescue 1, Inc.
bobzelin@icloud.com


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Greg Ball
Re: Looking for advice and ideas
on Dec 14, 2016 at 4:46:17 pm

Thanks Bob.

Greg Ball, President
Ball Media Innovations, Inc.
https://www.ballmediainnovations.com


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Bill Davis
Re: Looking for advice and ideas
on Dec 16, 2016 at 5:29:56 am

The overall message here is that convincing anyone to part with money for anything is ALWAYS the hardest part of any business. Because EVERYONE needs/wants to get the money. And hardly anyone wants to give theirs to somebody else. In fact, in most cases in order to get money from anyone, you have to convince them that they will get some advantage in return - that generates MORE money then they are giving you. That's what business IS.

Bridging that gap is called SALES. And it's hard. And as everyone with experience here is telling you - it takes relentless work and perseverance to overcome the "not interested" plateau.

You've got to convince people that your idea will actually make THEM money - or they have no reason to give you any of theirs to do what you want to do.

Shane's Mark Hammil story is a HUGE lesson. Even with that level of name recognition in play - there's still the underlying question of "can I trust this person - in this situation - to return my money - with a profit?

Nobody can escape that core reality.

One other thing that might help you is if you're pitching yourself as a creative player - SHOW them at least a LITTLE creativity.

Here's an example.

Decades ago, my wife and I decided to pitch our services to the growing local start up company called PetSmart. (back when they had maybe 30 stores total) I made some calls, but got nothing but "the marketing director is not in, can you leave your name and I'll give him the message." Probably 10 calls like that. Zilch.

Then I saw an ad in the Business Gazette that they were hiring a NEW marketing director. So we scoured for the news of their new hire and managed to get a name. Brainstorming, we decided not to just call (because we KNEW the new marketing director would get INNUNDATED with cold calls from every vendor on the planet) so my wife and I sat down to figure out a way to break through the clutter. We couldn't think of anything seriously clever - so in frustration we decided to go to the local Hallmark store and buy a dumb little stuffed dog and attatch our pitch letter to it with a ribbon and have it delivered to the guy. We both felt it was pretty lame - but just couldn't think of anything better.

Heard NOTHING for a couple of weeks. .

So I cold called again. Via a TOTAL accident the receptionist maybe didn't know calls should be screened, so she actually put us through and danged if Tom (the new marketing director) didn't pick up the call himself.

I tried to be cool and professional, but was kinda surprised to ACTUALLY be talking to him, but I'd spent a LOT of time imagining what I'd say if I even got through - so I was reasonably prepared.

Even with that, he almost blew me off as soon as I said I was a local video producer - but then suddenly he paused and said, Wait - aren't you the guys who sent me that stuffed dog? That was cute. Nobody else did that. (long pause) Sure, come in and lets talk.

We arrived - he took the meeting - and to our absolute astonishment the REASON he took the meeting was that THAT DAY he was watching some field footage and got miffed at his legacy video vendor because they had turned in some overnight store footage shot from pretty close to the feeder crickets - and he found them to be TOO LOUD.

Understand, you cannot control the SOUND of crickets in an overnight shoot - you have to MOVE the whole feeder cricket habitat outside if you're shooting in that area - but I was clueless about that at the time. )

Long story short: we did work for PetSmart for the next 15 years.

Here's the thing.
A: If we'd settled for the initial rejections - we'd have lost.
B: If we hadn't seen the new marketing director announcement in the paper - we'd have lost.
C: If we hadn't separated ourselves from the wolf pack of vendors with the dumb STUFFED DOG - we likely would have lost.
D: If we hadn't called on the very DAY Tom was upset about the blown footage from his current vendor - we likely would have lost.
E: If he hadn't picked up the phone himself that day - we would likely have lost.
and F: if those FABULOUS crickets hadn't been so loud on the very night they were filming with the old team - we likely would have lost.

This is why it's so hard to sell. A big part of sales pitching is honestly to be politely relentless and NEVER give up. Because you never know exactly when all the A-F stars will align and give you a crack you can wedge yourself through. And you had better be DAMN WELL ready to perform when that crack opens.

You work your ass off on EVERY angle you can think of - and then restlessly think of some MORE angles - and MAYBE you get a break you can work with.

Never discovered if it was really the stuffed dog - or the crickets - that were the wedge that got us in the door.

Doesn't really matter which.

Just a practical story.

Good luck.

Creator of XinTwo - http://www.xintwo.com
The shortest path to FCP X mastery.


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Ned Miller
Re: Looking for advice and ideas
on Dec 20, 2016 at 3:16:47 am

Hey Greg,

I wasn't going to chime in but your thread brought up a lot of memories regarding "buying air time". It's an arcane science, only a chump pays the rate card, it would be like you writing a check for the first figure the car salesman throws out. To illustrate...

Point 1: For many years, before Chicago had African American cameramen, I was passed around and one producer specialized in doing one hour one-offs for broadcast during Black History Month, which is February. Such as Dramatic Moments in Black Sports History, Romantic Moments in Black Cinema, History of the Negro Baseball Leagues, etc. He was an "OK" producer, but was really a fantastic salesman, who had inside broadcast TV experience, so he knew the ins and outs of time buying, which is the bailiwick of agencies that specialize in spots. As in the hotel industry, where a room that is not rented is revenue forever lost, not selling commercial airtime by broadcast time is also irrecoverably lost, so that's when they put up PSAs, which the feds mandate, so they get sumthin' for those 30 seconds. So, once he had what we would call a trailer or sizzle reel, our work-in-progress, he would hit up the Fortune 100 B2C sponsors like Coke, Kraft, who already had spots in the can for that demographic, and they would trip over themselves to buy time on his hour., which he charged dearly for. Basically, he made his profit by selling the airtime for those spots, since to him production and editing was a money loss, and wow, he could sell. My point is, if you are not of their (airtime) universe, a clubby brotherhood, you will be the lamb among the wolves.

Point 2: In terms of pitching to companies, the business model your post is in the footsteps of is what is called Pay-for-Play, which I used to shoot a lot of for a few years. Sort of like 8-10 minute mini-infomercials and the producers would also cut a short for the client's website. What they had in common is using a B-List celebrity on the way down, like Terry Bradshaw, Hugh Downs (World's Greatest Treasury of Health Secrets), even the venerable Walter Cronkite during retirement, would be enticed by appealing to their ego or wallet, to host these fake news shows of Titans of Industry, and other similar titles. So there's a stigma to the knowledgable on selling a company to promote them on sold airtime, where it appears to be industry news but is really an infomercial. Cronkite was the major lawsuit where the show's host finds out too late he is shilling:

http://floridapayforplayexposed.blogspot.com

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/515033287/And-thats-the-way-it-is-Media-...

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126056182

Besides the stigma of Pay-for-Play, which is what your concept sounded like to me, you gave me PTSD memories of being ripped off by the Boca Bandits. If you read the above links, what they have in common is most of these unethical infomercial producers are based in Boca Raton. Surprise, surprise...Home of the Boiler Room of the '80s which used high pressure sales tactics to pump worthless stocks to widows. So, what they would do is be open for a year or two, rack up a lot of bills with crew (like me) and not pay us, and take the clients' money, buy airtime AT 5AM (I swear to God) and then when sued, purposely pre-planned go out-of-business with the help of unscrupulous bankruptcy lawyers. BUT...they would then open up under a new name, new corporate shell, and do it all over again. Back then, before there was a Creative Cow, DVXuser, etc. we had DP forums that listed deadbeat clients but there were threats of defamation lawsuits to stop naming names. But I digress...

And...the reason these customers' videos, what was portrayed as a soft industry news break through story (infomercial or PR), were broadcast at 5AM? It's an airtime term called ROS, (Rotation-of-Station), meaning you pay the station a pittance for air time and are put in a lottery pool, so perhaps your program will appear in prime time, or else when only farmers are watching to get the weather report. I know this well because one of my Get Rich Quick schemes was to produce videos for sale to the public and I produced the non-blockbuster Fishing Chicago!, with local fishing experts, charter boat captains, tackle store owners...and I would buy airtime on Midwest Outdoors. Invariably I would get $800 of VHS orders every Saturday afternoon for the exactly $800 of airtime I purchased, so I know of what I speak. I was their chump...And that is why I wish I had just invested that dough into the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index back then. Eeeesh...I hope I talked you off the ledge before you leap?

So, I don't think your idea would work. Especially with only a local scope. It would HAVE to be national, but you not being a former insider of TV Commercial Time Buying Club, it's safer to put that money in a low cost total market index fund. Make your money in what you're expert in and stay away from shark infested waters.

Best,

Ned

Ned Miller
Chicago Videographer
http://www.nedmiller.com


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