NY1 – 15 Years Later

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Many thanks to Ed Sharpe who makes me aware of this story. 

NY1 celebrates it’s 15th year.

And it’s still a VJ station and still going strong.

Digitalcontentproducer.com celebrates the event. Read it here.

It is hard to believe that it was more than 15 years ago that I was invited to lunch with Paul Sagan and Steve Paulus to talk about their plans for a 24-hour news channel in NYC.  I had just completed the very first VJ driven stations in Sweden and Norway, and now Sagan, much to his everlasting credit, was ready to try an entirely new and radical approach to local newsgathering.

I explained how the system worked and Sagan then asked ‘how many VJs would you have’.

“All of them”, I said.

“and how many crews?” he responded.

“none”. I said.

Much to his credit, he went with the most radical iteration of the concept.

15 years later, it clearly works:

NY1 is one of the highest-rated cable channels in New York. Owned by Time Warner Cable, the station covers every aspect of local news: politics, weather, crime, business, entertainment, and transit. NY1 has a fraction of CNN’s budget, but, like its corporate cousin, it has 24 hours of airtime to fill every day. Therefore, the station has always needed to adopt innovative newsgathering and production strategies.

There has been some ‘swiftboating’ of the NY1 experience from time to time, as opponents of the system have argued that NY1 had long ago abandoned the VJ model.  Quite clearly, this is not the case:

NY1 reporters have shot their own stories since the station’s inception in 1992, when the acquisition format was Hi8 tape.

Of course, the station long ago moved from Hi8, but when we started, Hi8 was about as good as uMatic, which many local stations were then using.

So congratulations to NY1 – a success today, and most watched cable channel in New York City.

It is surprising to me that the model has taken so long to percolate into the general broadcasting world, but it is slowly but surely gaining traction.  Resistance has been far far deeper and more profound that I could have ever imagined in 1992, but fear of change is perhaps the most basic of human instincts.

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2 responses to “NY1 – 15 Years Later

  1. …fear of change is perhaps the most basic of human instincts.

    I’m running into this right now with a couple of projects that are stalled for traditional broadcast venues – I have pitched the idea of a modified Solo VJ production with one host, one shooter and a producer. I know this isn’t the pure Solo VJ paradigm, but these projects aren’t news. One project in particular needs an on camera talent – but not a teeth and hair type. The producer is.. well.. the brains behind the concept of the 52 episode project. I round out the crew as shooter/editor

    I’ve described the new broadcasting concept on my website and the producer is intrigued by the idea. With Adobe making a serious pitch as an all in one solution for online broadcasting, things are getting interesting.

    Thanks to the forward thinking vision of both Michael and David Dunkley-Gyimah of Viewmagazine.tv, the producer is seriously considering my pitch.

  2. “Most watched”?

    Seems to me the article gives it more of a nebulous “one of the highest rated”, whatever that really means.

    Cliff, you should be able to make your plan work. Somewhere out there is a client who can afford to take a chance on you and your idea.

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