What Can You Profitably Outsource?
In more jobs than I care to remember, my single objective was efficiency: How could the most value be created for the least cost, and then sold to delighted customers and eager prospects at the highest profit?
When I read last week that two Philadelphia TV stations—Fox29 and NBC10—are going to test the possibility of sharing video footage, I was intrigued. The idea that competing news gatherers would pool their resources is a breakthrough!
For example, CBS and CNN spend millions of dollars on equipment and personnel gathering news in Iraq, mostly going after the same stories, interviewing the same people and doing stand-up reporting from inside the Green Zone. Three weeks ago, The New York Times reported that CBS was negotiating to buy news feeds from CNN. Brilliant!
Alas, later that day, both Hollywood Reporter and Variety said it was rumor. “We’re extremely satisfied with and proud of our newsgathering operation,” a CBS spokesperson said. “No outside arrangements are being negotiated.”
Pride is a dumb reason to waste millions of dollars duplicating somebody else’s perfectly good work.
Four Hovering Helicopters
In the run-up to the Pennsylvania primary election, Barack Obama held a rally near the Wynnewood home of our friend Russell Perkins, the savvy proprietor of InfoCommerce Group. Perkins related that the four competing news helicopters hovered over the event for hours. Not only were they sucking up fuel, pilot salaries, camera operators and newsreaders, but also irritating the hell out of homeowners down below.
And for what? Four sets of identical footage. The whole preposterous exercise was the ego trip—the silly pride—of four competing news directors who could have sent up one helicopter, shared the results and paid a quarter of the cost each.
A Vestigial Business Model
Once upon a time, owning a local newspaper or radio or TV station meant having a monopoly on the community and a license to print money. No longer.