The football game is over. Your dinner is settling somewhere near your stomach. You’re flipping through channels on a Sunday night, looking for something to watch when you pass by America’s Funniest Home Videos. Wait…what? Is this a re-run from the ’90’s?
No, it is not. The show is now in its 28th season. It runs Sunday nights on ABC where, having completed more than 600 episodes, is the longest-running primetime entertainment show on the network. It is syndicated in over 50 countries and 193 territories around the world. According to the Los Angeles Times, an average of 5.5 million people watch this show every week in the U.S. alone. During the summer it consistently wins its time slot for the valuable 18-49 year old age group.
What gives? Have these people ever heard of the Internet? How in the world is this old-school show surviving — no, thriving — in this YouTube-Facebook Live-Twitter Periscope-Instagram-Snapchat-WhatsApp era? I understand why people submit their videos — the winner, which is voted by the show’s audience, can walk away with as much as $100,000. But that still doesn’t answer the question of how this show is still on the air and how it attracts millions of viewers every week.
The answer is important to anyone looking to start and grow a business. It’s about audience, and quality.
For starters, we live in a big country. There are more than 330 million people who live in the U.S. Oh and also, we live in a big world where billions of other people also live. In 2018, everyone has their own tastes and, thankfully, we have many choices.
Sure, online content has greatly reduced the number of newspaper subscribers, but there are still millions of readers (like me) who enjoy flipping through the Sunday Times that’s delivered to my door. Hip hop music is extremely popular, but so is classic rock. Veggie restaurants are all the rage but millions still consume Big Macs every week. Cargo shorts may be out of style, but like so many other nerdy dads I still wear them. For America’s Funniest Home Videos, the number of viewers has declined significantly thanks to the Internet, but 5.5 million isn’t bad at all, right?
Those 5.5 million people watch the show because…well…it’s good. Really good. Silly. Funny. Goofy. Wholesome and family-oriented. It’s an escape. Its videos have been researched, vetted and served up by a staff of 40 people behind the scenes so that we’re getting the best of the best, the silliest of the silliest. We get to match our opinions against the studio audience. We’re happy to see the winners walk away with the grand prize. This is a good product delivered to a faithful audience.
What about what your business does? Is there an audience? Of course there is. Are your really, really good at what you do? Of course you are.
Being a blacksmith today isn’t what it used to be a few hundred years ago when everyone rode horses. But there are still plenty of horses out there that need shoes. Being an expert in Etruscan jewelry may not make you rich, but in a world as big as this, there are plenty of people interested in that type of art. Selling dot-matrix printers may not be a growth industry, but many companies (like airlines) still use them. I think vinyl records sound like crap compared to digital music but, hey, what do I know? Apparently those crazy millennials seem to like that kind of thing, and many businesses are responding.
The beauty of running a business today is that, like American’s Funniest Home Videos, if we’re really excellent at what we do, we can find an audience for our work. Pick a niche, and do it well. So think about that next time you’re flipping through channels on a Sunday night.