Thursday, February 20, 2014

TWIT without NFSW, yet another sign?


I suppose this is going to become a series and I hate that, here's why...

There's already enough negativity in the world and I'm not happy to add to it but neither can I sit idly by while good intentions wend their way toward hell undocumented.

So I might as well keep tabs on the house that Leo built and see if forecasts of its eventual demise are the stuff of insight or foolishness. 

In the intervening weeks since the departure of Tom Merritt and the fallout that resulted, TWIT has continued a now familiar trend of upheaval. 

Mike Elgan continues as the host and driving force behind the revamped Tech News Today but absent is holdover from the Merritt era, Sarah Lane, as co-host.  She's now officially taken over full time duties 4 days a week for the new Tech News Tonight(TN2.)  It's entirely possible that Lane was paired with Elgan early on to ease the transition to his era of TNT but was never intended as a permanent association.  Of course that's just supposition.

Considering the suggestion of  tensions early on between the 2 hosts (see the earlier article) and this latest merry-go-round of hosting changes, it's not an unreasonable conclusion. 

 On the February 19th Inside TWIT recording (see below) it was announced that a search for a new co-host to join Elgan was underway.  There was no mention of any further participation of Lane in the morning TNT podcast.

The decision to change the news component of TWIT is still questionable borne out by the absence of TNT on any recent iTunes top 10 podcast list since the format change.  Tom Merritt's Daily Tech News Show (DTNS) by  comparison is consistently in the top 10.  The only TWIT podcasts still ranking in the top 10 on iTunes are hosted by Laporte including the long running This Week in Tech, MacBreak Weekly and Security Now programs.  That would suggest that personality is a more critical component of successful podcasting than pure content.

If that were the end of it there wouldn't be much need for another article but this week brought another not altogether unexpected but still surprising turn of events.

NSFW, TWIT's raucous, unbridled, freeform comedy program hosted by Brian Brushwood (ScamSchool) and Justin Robert Young (Night Attack) announced its farewell episode on TWIT this week.

In the February 18th episode, Hosts Brushwood and Young were emphatic in their praise to TWIT for nurturing NSFW for over 4 years.  Still their reason for leaving was stated as "Not wanting to hurt the network" due to content incompatible with an increasingly overheated "family friendly" and "CNN of Tech" focus. 

While Both Brushwood and Young's popularity have grown well beyond NSFW, the show still provides a hub for their related endeavors .   As such it will continue under a new moniker, "Night Attack" where unrestricted and uncensored content are expected to flow far more freely than would be possible under the TWIT umbrella.

 The new show will be financially supported on a subscription basis via Patreon which is a crowd sourced funding mechanism for the arts.  Both Brushwood and Merritt have found success with the service which currently supports Merritt's "Daily Tech News Show" not to mention the cord cutter show, "CordKillers"  which is a collaborative effort with Brushwood.  This will be the third show to leave the TWIT network only to be recreated independent of the TWIT influence.

Live streaming of "Night Attack" will be streamed via Diamondclub.tv as well as released in podcast form to other networks such as alphageekradio.com.

The issue nobody dares talk about, however, is that NSFW functioned as a kind of release valve for TWIT's otherwise straight-laced programming.  Whether you enjoyed the content or not the simple fact remains that many avid fans of other TWIT shows would frequently make their way to the #unfiltered section of the TWIT chatrooms when NSFW was recording.  Once there, fans could break free of the often draconian moderators in other TWIT chatrooms and uninhibitedly interact with the hosts.   A feature not enjoyed and frequently criticized for its absence on TWIT.

In the February 19th "Inside TWIT" Both Laporte and CEO Lisa Kentzell repeatedly reminded viewers that NSFW wasn't "cancelled" and left of their own volition echoing the sentiments of Young and Brushwood the night before.  That was followed by a discussion concerning the latest TWIT branded swag designs.   Increasingly it seems "Inside TWIT" is more concerned about marketing paraphernalia than the direction of the network.



This leads me to what I believe to be the ultimate endgame for the TWIT network.  That being to position it less as community driven resource and more as a "brand" to be traded on.  For many fans, that's a betrayal of what they believed to beTWIT's vision and the reason they supported it so fiercely while others failed.

However, once the brand surpasses the content, TWIT  and its increasingly "vanilla" programming will become little more than a commodity to be traded and ultimately sold to the highest bidder.  Much like ZDTV and TECHTV that followed it.

We seem to be moving that direction but only time will tell.  The popularity of former hosts has to be a bitter pill for Laporte as he grudgingly admits their post TWIT success.   An event that's been happening with such regularity that such announcements have become as routine as a form letter.  


There's no doubt that TWIT is an incubator for fledgling Internet stardom and there's no lack of examples that have benefitted from Laporte's tutelage.  Unfortunately, much like professional sports teams in Arizona, it seems that's all it will ever be as talent continues its exodus to greener pastures in the face of an uncertain future.

UPDATE:   I found a working video link to NFSW 218!  Check it out below!






NFSW show 218 ...