Case Study: No Good TV Won't Be Ignored
Its critics have called No Good Tv (NGTV.com) vulgar, crass, sophomoric, offensive, dirty, and dumb. But nobody seems to be calling it boring, and its meteoric success has thrilled even the most jaded industry observers and analysts. Over a mere 7 months during 2007, No Good Tv delivered more than 130 million clip views and rose to become YouTube’s fourth-most-watched partner of all time.
But is the criticism fair? Is No Good Tv really as no good as they say? You bet it is. But in the online world, just as in the offline world, money talks and success silences criticism. No Good Tv can be vulgar to the max, as long as it continues to make money.
No Good Tv is best known for its salacious, cheeky, profanity-laced interviews with movie stars and other show biz celebrities. The interviews are usually conducted by Carrie Keagan, a buxom blonde who looks like she just stepped out of a Playboy centerfold. She likes to flirt with the guests and encourages them to get down and dirty. For example, she once challenged the cast members of Superbad to a penis-drawing contest—now, that’s high art. Besides being NGTV’s VP of programming, Keagan is also its primary personality/host. One of her most popular shows is titled "In Bed With Carrie." It literally takes place in various hotel room beds, which Keagan shares with her celebrity interviewees, whom she plies with liquor—not that they need any coaxing. If her bedmates play along with the schtick and utter enough four-letter words, they get the opportunity to promote their latest films or CDs.
Another staple of NGTV programming is "uncensored" music videos, which are available from NGTV’s DMV channel. Typical of the company’s playful forthrightness, the acronym DMV has nothing to do with motor vehicles, instead standing for Dirty Music Videos. Apparently many of today’s music videos are so racy that they are typically heavily edited before they get to the mainstream media. No Good Tv gives the producers of such music videos an outlet for their raw products. Many of these producers have apparently felt hamstrung by the rules of mainstream television and are now are shooting special "uncensored" videos custom-made for No Good Tv.
In its promotional literature, NGTV uses the word "uncensored" about a thousand times, as if there is a vast right-wing censorship conspiracy to prevent hip young sophisticates from experiencing the nirvana of soft-core titillation. By providing uncensored content, NGTV apparently feels it is catering to a pent-up demand. Now, everybody knows that sex sells, but NGTV isn’t selling sex so much as it is selling sex talk. Will that be enough to satisfy the target demographic, 18–24-year-old males? Why settle for soft-core when there is so much hard-core stuff available online? Everyone knows (though some don’t like to admit it) that pornography has driven internet development. Will this soft-core, silly sex talk content be the next big driver of internet video? Will NGTV spawn copycats? (Well, of course, it will; success always spawns copycats.) Are we witnessing the birth of a huge new genre? And if so, what are the wider implications of that?
Some media mavens have already weighed in with armchair analysis of the NGTV phenomenon. According to TV Weekly, NGTV is filling a rabid demand for celebrity-associated content."The 24-hour nature of the internet has fueled the public’s limitless appetite for entertainment news," the publication noted, calling NGTV "emblematic of a new trend in the convergence of TV and the internet."
And Billboard stated that NGTV is filling a needed niche: "What has been missing on YouTube is a third-party aggregator … where fans know they can go to get the latest and greatest from all record labels and discover new acts. NGTV is one of the handful of newcomers emerging to fill that void."
Love it or hate it, NGTV has put online video entertainment on the map. There’s clearly something going on here that can’t be ignored.
Waiting for the Explosion
No Good Tv began life in 2000 as an online video entertainment company, but it quickly ran up against the brick wall of internet immaturity, says Kourosh Taj, the company’s co-president and head of programming.
"So when the internet sort of collapsed, instead of collapsing as a company, we just sort of changed our focus and did stuff in broadcast and became a production company," says Taj. "We did projects here and there to fund our existence, to keep our relevance, and to stay in the mainstream of activity, while developing this new concept and not necessarily waiting for the internet to come back; that’s just the way it all seemed to play out."