“It’s a new Golden Age of television,” Rob Reiner proclaimed to me and Stuart Crane, founder of the new TV Talk Network, when we ran into the All in the Family classic TV star. Of course Reiner is now an acclaimed feature film director, but he acknowledges his television roots and praises all the great shows on the air nowadays. And he was happy to hear about Crane’s idea to expand the experience for fans to enjoy their favorite shows with special mini-talk recap shows for about 50 of the most popular programs on the air.
It’s like the after-show that has been very popular for The Walking Dead called Talking Dead, and Breaking Bad had Talking Bad.
Crane and Reiner had a brief chat about their love of shows like that in the TV universal. This all happened as we gathered for a luncheon meeting at the trendy Boa restaurant on Sunset. Rob was just leaving, and Stuart Crane was just arriving for a power lunch with his TV Talk team and reality contestants Roberta “RC” Saint-Amour from Survivor, and Mark “Abba” Abbattista from The Amazing Race. They are hosting their own 20-minute talk shows, with RC giving an insiders’ perspective on Survivor, and Abba revealing all the details fans want to know about The Amazing Race.
The 50-plus television programs that TV Talk has chosen to produce talk shows for this fall have an average nightly viewership of over 7,000,000 people. And the professional TVTalk.com podcasts, that go out after an episode has aired, not only give a recap of the program but also juicy tidbits and allows the fans the opportunity to submit “talkback clips.”
“It makes TV interactive and fun. The shows can be seen on the TV Talk website, iPhones, Android, and other mobile devices by downloading the app,” Crane told me. And there’s been a recent announcement about it joining Clear Channel’s streaming audio service iHeart Radio.
TV Talk debuted at the start of the Fall TV season, but now with November sweeps underway, the expert-hosted 20-minute digital programs covering the major TV shows are growing in popularity. And that has made TV Talk the world’s largest podcast network.
“Each program is designed to give fans a reliable way to feed their appetite for information around the TV shows they enjoy most. It serves to keep those fans more deeply engaged on an ongoing basis,” Crane said, explaining the TV Talk podcasts are produced and published within hours after each new TV episode airs, and are available for listeners in plenty of time for morning commutes.
It’s interesting to talk to entrepreneurs like Stuart Crane, learning how to take an idea and make it work. Crane actually reminds me of Mark Cuban in a way, because he started in the software business 22 years ago building a hugely successful and profitable enterprise software business, which he then sold. Now Stuart’s business experience and financial resources have allowed TV Talk Network to be built with quality in mind, with another great guy Scott Merritt on his team. There’s also a great team of hosts providing context and insights into the show nobody else can offer, such as Mark “Abba” Abbattista, the go-to expert for The Amazing Race.
“As a former contestant on The Amazing Race, I had the first-hand opportunity to race other teams around the world. I saw the world in a way few ever have. I raced other teams for flights in exotic airports and I checked in on the mat with Phil,” Abba described to me. “Hosting TV Talk lets me share that Amazing Race experience with fans of the show, and allows me to offer my perspective on what’s really happening.”
Crane reported, “As television shows continue to embrace and use social media to further viewer engagement, the second screen has become an essential part of the television fan experience. But given the immediacy of Twitter and Facebook, they almost exclusively drive the discussion during the air time of any given TV show. TV Talk helps to keep fans engaged in between airings.” Tune in and enjoy the new Golden Age of television.