There was a time not too long ago where there were entire agencies dedicated to getting their clients five to ten minutes on local television interview shows, or even national ones if you could pick up that spend. While it may not be the most creative advertising it is efficient and can get you some evergreen soundbites and press clips to use for a good long while after those five minutes are over. Plus, it’s a pretty good buy for the money, as it is still cheaper than buying that kind of air time on a consistent basis. 

Of course there has been all kinds of disruption in the media landscape and social media has pulled a lot of eyeballs away from traditional television audiences. Still, the model of chat show or short interview can still have an impact that exceeds the cost of production. 

I’ve been a Co-Head (Producer) for CVG-TV for a few years now and it is a project I enjoy quite a bit. CVG-TV is the content studio for CONvergence Events, the non-profit that runs CONvergence, which is one of the largest Science Fiction conventions in the midwest. We’re coming into our 22nd year and I’ve been involved in some way for a good chunk of those years. This is a pro-bono gig, but it is a great way to work with folks who are passionate about what they do and help create content which might not otherwise get produced. Plus, leveling-up with San Diego Comic Con and DragonCon, who both have regular and quality video production output  is a pretty enticing challenge.

Anyway, one of our projects is CON-Link, which is a low-budget version of the classic talk show format, but with a multimedia twist. We can take a video feed from any device that has a camera or microphone and have our host Gregory Parks ask them questions live. They are able to interact as you would with a video call, but the set gives it more production value and makes the interview feel more like an “event” than a basement podcast. 

CON-Link: A news interview for geeks

Our crew has the production down flat and we’ve gotten as many as five interviews done in one six-hour shooting day. That’s a lot of content for a short day and a small crew. To further save on costs, we load-in and strike the set every shooting day. This means we don’t pay for several days of studio time, which can run up into thousands of dollars very quickly. What this means is that with enough pre-production planning you can save $1000 or more per episode.

CONvergence’s big social media focus is on Facebook and Twitter, as that is where most of our audiences lives and interacts with us, so YouTube is a bit of a support channel for those who won’t use our primary media, but it does offer a wider audience for video content of longer duration. 

Our Facebook engagement for these videos has been pretty substantial and increased member access to our content in a very significant way. Also, our beleaguered (unpaid) social media and member communications teams LOVE the work we do for them by getting these sorts of videos out in an easy to consume manner.

The Nitty Gritty Numbers

Specifically, for CONvergence, prior to CVG-TV and CON-Link, there was no video content viewable on Facebook. During the months prior to the 2018 and 2019 CONvergence, CVG-TV generated over 15,000 new views and gathered a total of about 26,000 viewed minutes. Within that same time period, non-video content generated around 3,000 views.

Pop-up sets and television talk shows are very much within reach for even small business and non-profits who are looking to create their own content channel, rather than one-off videos. This is also a competitive evolution as the digital marketplace gets flooded with “talking microphone” podcasts. With the right guest, the right host, and some upfront investment in a solid set, the effects on your audience and brand will quickly see a significant ROI.

More Examples

Dr. Chuck Tingle is out and about taking his message of Love is Real to all the buckaroos, buckettes, and all stops between. For those “not in the know”, Dr. Chuck Tingle is an author and fandom personality who has taken the world of social media by storm. Here is a promo interview I produced for CVG-TV as part of the run-up to CONvergence 2019. Working with Dr. Tingle’s privacy needs was a small challenge, but in the end I think we got something pretty cool in the digital can.

En Familia is a Spanish-language interview program for LatinX members of Minnesota. We produced this in a pop up studio, creating three episodes in one sitting. Also worth noting that we also streamed this live on Facebook during the production.

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