Puja Vohra


[ 00:00:19 ] That’s that’s the question. It’s really hard. And I would just kind of stopped that thing because of the level of noise. It’s really hard and I think because of some of the things that you know we were just talking about including you know YouTube and the fact that you can find exactly what you want now. You know you don’t have to just pick the best of what there is you can find your. I don’t know. Blacksmithing video or whatever you’re looking for. I think that’s really tricky. I think the thing that we are trying to do and we are we’ve been somewhat successful and I don’t think we are there yet is trying to speak in a voice that feels not correct. You know the family was just on was about creativity and the question that our moderator asked was you don’t talk to me about something you guys have done that was a real problem. And what do you how do you solve it. You know how were you creative about that. And I’ll give just the top line you know we have a campaign that we do every year around March Madness where half of the internet. It suddenly feels that way comes after Tru-TV and basically trolls us like crazy. And so this is a family friendly channel. But you know it’s you know the most the most common thing you hear on Twitter for those two days is WITF is Tru-TV. And why do I have to find it and I am I’m so pissed off and I wish I didn’t have to and what the hell. Blah blah blah. And what we did was we. So for many years Tru-TV would do nothing right. Because it’s it’s a scary thing you know you have these vicious trolls and what you’re going to do. But when we pivoted to comedy so we used to be you know cops and. Storage and so on and we really pivoted the brand to more of a comedy landscape because those shows while they were doing well. I think we saw the declines and we saw the declines before they were coming. And so we decided to pivot to something lighter brighter more fun more comedic more of an oasis. As my boss likes to say and so we used those March madness that army of trolls that came after us and started to talk back to them. So for two days we set up a war room this like 30 40 people you know police in Beanie’s and Williamsburgh hipsters who are doing social analytics. They’re designers they’re writers. And what we do is we create over twelve hundred pieces of content where we talk back to these trolls and I don’t have some of the examples here but.

[ 00:02:46 ] You know I keep them con. We can you know whatever whatever. But it is a hugely successful campaign for us because that’s not what people are expecting. You know people when when somebody puts out something vicious on Twitter they don’t expect to be talked back to by a human. You know nothing they just expect. I can say what I want and it goes out onto the Internet. So we’ve been hugely successful doing things like that. We we have over 300 million impressions around those two days on Twitter. 200 million is significant. Super significant We don’t buy them we don’t buy them. We get them organically because you know everybody gets involved and people some people like the sport they like to follow us because they’ll see what somebody says to us and how we clap back and we can get pretty sarcastic with the vicious. All of those things you know I’ll give you an example I remember this one always it says one of the guys would say you know somebody say I think he’s a guy. You know it’s that time of the year. And I think his his his handlers thought kisses and so he said this last year. Oh it’s that time of the year and I have to find Tru-TV again we said back to him or it’s that time of the year where we talk to fully grown adults called put kisses and then a piece of talent made a video saying hey this is what’s that about why Jermaine bookcases didn’t go up. So that’s the kind of stuff we do. So I hope that that is creating signal in you know enough in an ocean of noise. But those opportunities are few and far between. I think in this case we think about and that was obvious.

[ 00:04:19 ] You know we take the lemons and make make lemonade.

[ 00:04:29 ] So we use the comedy approach I think in a way that allows us to have the license to actually have a voice. You know when I worked in drama I worked in reality TV able to Bravo a lot of many different places. And I think that it was harder to have this dialogue to have this one to one dialogue with people of this one to one connection. And I think comedy gives you that opportunity too. And also the kind of comedy we have is a whole range of comedy shows on a huge spectrum of comedy from you know very very high quality scripted to man on the street stuff to prank shows with the impractical jokers to you know infamy of comedy investigative comedy with Adam ruins everything. So it really gives us I think I’m very nice to get to talk back to people and to kind of have this this back and forth. So it’s it’s easier I think. I don’t have to stay in character. I don’t have to because the stars of our shows are often the creators of those shows. So they have a voice as individuals as well. They’re not just a character that who has to kind of play his fake personality. So it is really and we can go back and forth. But yeah it’s a really great opportunity. I think so there’s you know we basically use I would see a lot of different you know as there’s been an explosion of platforms and tools. Things become harder to measure. Right. So it’s you know things might be working very well on one platform but not in another way. I’m going to use a couple of different things and I’m going to I think I’m going to forget maybe I won’t forget. John Landgraf the head of FX said I think at DC a couple of years ago he spoke about three Vorbis I think he said the audience gets a vote. The critics get a vote and the next one gets aboard. You know so I think that’s a one way of looking at it. I think we follow you know similar things we would look at up to the first part of the question which was we saw we had to pivot before we saw the decline. It was really about ad sales dollars. You know I think advertisers start are wary in general of you know like to kind of stay back and see what’s working and then jump in. And we you know to DVD or to TV used to be a really big network but was not. We could see the you know the lack of that that ratings decline was starting to come. Now we’re starting to soften but that advertisers were not really embracing who we were. So one big change for Apple that was really to make sure that we were relevant to the advertising market. And then Don took us to not. And I also I really give credit to my to the president of true Christian who I think really also started to see the vast amount of drama reality in the in the landscape. And really this is. Going back five years four years saying that there is going to be a stone to what’s comedy and that we want to be there before anybody else had gotten there because it would just be harder. And I think it’s so much more so precent of him then when I think about it now you know look at the landscape it’s pretty damn depressing. And I don’t mean just entertainment trade just news is you know it’s it’s so depressing. And I can imagine that. Bad things were happening forever but now we just know about them. You know now you know what’s happening in in in in Burma which you’d have to know before you see that on your Facebook feed. So I think moments of levity I really wish more welcome and moments of levity without them having a message necessarily they’re not preaching not trying to make you do something. It’s just about you know a really hard day. Take five minutes hang up at the TV and it’s going to be funny. You know you’re going to have one. So I think that one that answers one part of the question the second piece is we really look at. We definitely looked at the press. I think you know what the critics think because there are X-books to that very crucial. You know often really you know we might keep going if we think it’s. It could be a cult favorite or it could be a critical darling. We think about that. We definitely we definitely look at social and you know why we why we don’t have to look at the 300 million impressions that are several tools that will tell you what the sentiment is like. You know if something has is polarizing it has but you know we’ve recently realized and we actually you know we put a trailer out and we have the documentary coming. We have a show called The problem with Apple and it is a comedian call Hari Kondabolu he’s an Indian American comedian and his hit you know the point of the documentary is he’s young he’s maybe 2029. He said why is the voice of Apu on the Simpsons voiced by a white guy. Why is that Hank Azaria And why has that been allowed to go on for so long. And you know the point again he makes and he does a bunch of people in the documentary there’s Whoopi Goldberg there’s Azeez and. There’s there’s there’s you know the Who’s Who of all of you know other really diverse comedy set. And the point there is just you know. 30 years ago. You know comedy all these data types everything. That’s where the comedy comes from that’s where the humor comes from the little bit you know you know you offend people. Otherwise it’s bland and vanilla. Right. But for so many years Apple was the only representation of Indians in this country. And so you know if you didn’t know anything else that’s what you thought an Indian person was. It’s different now. The last couple of years certainly things have exploded. So we you know and it’s a it’s a dark it’s a one off it’s one documentary but the amount of press because that has got because it’s kind of both people. So. That’s important and we will put that out there as well. We’re not just looking for the ratings you know.

[ 00:10:15 ] So I think the big challenge is you don’t know that before you put it out there. If we did.

[ 00:10:31 ] We’d all be billionaires but we don’t you know sometimes people will spend millions on things that they are sure based on data and research. This is the exact right thing to on this time. But you know. And then sometimes things that are that you could not have imagined would hate to know because I just think even though we have become so nimble with content production there’s still a cycle to it. You know it takes three months six months nine months or a year. You know I think cories documentary has been in process all his life in some ways but really come together in you know two or three months. So you don’t know at the time that you’re launching something what else is happening. What was the news cycle or what. You know everybody talks about transparent coming out of Amazon. And it was the right time for it. You know there was a lot happening and you know in the transgender movement that allowed. A company that sells shoes putting out something that became such a you know such a. Culture touchpoint and then changed the conversation. I don’t think you can predict these things. So I think you we all. Do the best we can on every project. You know certainly if somebody does I think what helps some of the electoral TV and I feel very proud about that is you know our vision is to try and take creators and put them at the center of their project. So it’s not that our programming people are putting together a format and casting people and it’s ready that. You know double who came with his idea. And when somebody has a passion for something you know you can kind of support that. It’s easier you know to support that and all about almost all of our projects have created at the center of it and that’s that’s what we support we are again looking at many different things that are. So. I think the very core television is declining. I believe we are TV model as we know it ratings on TV are declining. We are one. And this is not spin. It’s completely true we are one of only two networks that has grown in the last two years one of two networks so it’s can study for us and ESPN. And 18 to 49. It’s awesome it’s awesome MSNBC. That’s huge. Nobody is growing and they’re certainly not growing two years in a row. So. For us metric like him right. The second thing we look at is critical buzz in a clean press people talking about it. We’ve had such great feedback on a lot of our shows are scripted shows some of unscripted shows like and from and from legit organizations the New York Times Wall vice the L.A. Times you know people that we that we just think that we’re doing a good job. And that’s another really great testament. And the third is we look at you know we had tracking studies you know we all in DV You’ve got you know we work with different organizations that tracks your brand on your. And we found in literally three shows we are up there where people asked when asked the question ready for comedy. You know we are there with CBS and Adult Swim lower than Comedy Central. They’ve got their name. So got a little bit of an advantage. And 20 years on us but to see this kind of success in three years tells us that we are on to something. And you know our eyes are our whole you know our positioning is we are a broad comedic network. We are we have comedy for everyone. We’re not trying to be super nice when I’m trying to be super cool and not just go still. You know we have fans across the country and our talent really speaks to that. You know and we try not to just go for not trying not to just before we really I would say go for the political. I think that that is that is avenue that is well-crafted and. Lots of people have that covered. So that’s not really something that we need to you know we want to shy away from it but that’s not the first place that people do.

[ 00:14:29 ] So.

Thought Gallery Channel: 
Backstage Conversations
Backstage Conversation Season: 2017