Having trouble understanding how the age of mass media is coming to an end, ushering in a new age of personal media? Today’s announcement by Oprah Winfrey that she’s winding down her daily TV talk show should help.
Her nationally-syndicated show began in the early days of cable TV. So, she was able to build a mass audience in an era of limited competition. Her brand was well established to survive a battle for eyeballs throughout the ’90s. Smartly, she and her team wisely re-invented their product from an ’80s “tabloid” show, to a relationship show, to a self-help show to, now, largely a celebrity-driven product. That evolution helped maintain a relatively audience level as the program’s core base got older and “infotainment” options exploded.
Like with virtually everything on broadcast television, Oprah’s ratings have been down in recent years. Still, the show is a lock to win its time slots across the country and it can be said that she’s leaving “on top.”
So who will replace her? Nobody. Will there be a “Next Oprah?” Certainly not. There will not be another national talk show host who becomes a broadcasting, branding, business and pop culture superstar. That’s because we’re well on our way to the end of mass media as we knew it. There just won’t be another personality with an audience so big and diverse, generating so much money.
As for talk shows, consider this – you don’t need to turn on the TV to be a part (even a silent one) of a conversation anymore from the comfort of your own home. Just go online.