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Letter From the Staff: OK, We CanDo This

One year ago, for our first issue of 2011, we slapped a blue sky on the cover along with one word: “Optimism.” We know we tend to be somewhere between cheerleader and Pollyanna around here at times. Sorry if we don’t want to bathe in miserable. If you don’t like it, there are plenty of other places these days to shower yourself in snark.

But if 2011 was about hope, 2012 is going to be about rolling up our sleeves as an industry.

There is a lot that is simply out of our hands. We can’t control what is going to happen with the economy—in Greece, here or anywhere. We have no idea if companies will start hiring again, or if banks will keep making it impossible to borrow a few bucks to start a business, or even buy a house. We have no idea how this election is going to shape up. And of course, we don’t know what piece of technology some 17-year-old in Northern California is going to think up while toasting a Pop Tart in between Beavis and Butt-Head episodes that will redefi ne everything we do.

Yes, there are some signs that 2012 could be tougher than 2011. While ad dollars are still moving nicely, the growth forecasts have been pulled back—even if just a little bit—and we have heard about many of you starting to tighten purse strings again…just in case.

But this is no time to go back into the fetal position. There is too much great work being done to evolve our business at a time when evolution is exactly what is needed.

The past year has seen the television industry recommit itself to what it does best, while at the same time arresting the mistake of treating every disruptor with fear and loathing.

TV is about making big bets, and many of us remembered that in 2011. Every broadcast network and many cable networks had at least one success story. And that’s in large part by remembering that from a content development standpoint, television has to be the biggest badass on the block. The safer and more conservative you get—both creatively and financially—the closer you get to becoming like every Website owner with a camera…or, these days, a smartphone.

Granted, some of you lost your mind in 2011—like for instance, what you spent on sports. Good luck making all that money back. But we’d much rather see you spending big than not. Gutsy plays are exactly what this business needs.

It also needs the continued movement to try different things. And we don’t just mean taking that Netflix money. Whether it’s authenticated iPad apps or other ways to diversify your content distribution— just please protect your primary revenue stream, since this ain’t the music business—media companies have to stop being disrupted and start doing some disrupting of their own.

Going into 2012, many of you look great. That cash on your balance sheet is impressive. But you know what would be even more impressive? Having the guts to spend it on hiring more people. “You gotta spend to save” would be a great motto for our business—hell, our country—in 2012.

We admit it: In these pages over the past year, we’ve sometimes given you a glass-half-full take on things. That’s our way. We love covering the business and don’t mind pulling out the pom-poms every now and again.

But the tone of our coverage is really up to you. We need you to be great in 2012, because while we hope the economy is on the way back, we all have to be realistic about the fact that we may have to achieve in spite of outside forces, not thanks to them.

So, come out of the corner swinging this year. Take big risks. Make big plays. Don’t forget where you came from, but don’t be afraid to go to new places. Pump up those profi ts through greatness and innovation, not by cutting back and hiding. If you do all of that, no matter what happens elsewhere, you’ll give yourself the best chance of excellence in 2012.

And we’ll be pulling for you.

Happy New Year,
The Staff of B&C