Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Saturday, January 24, 2021

The Washington Capitals joined the National Hockey League in 1974. And now, only 35 years later, DC is coming around to hockey, with sellouts and sports-talk chatter to prove it.

And they have star power to thank for it, in the guise of Alex Ovechkin. A Stanley Cup or two would help things along, too:

[Mario] Lemieux’s term — “hockey town” — is frequently used to describe the old-school burgs that made up the NHL’s “Original Six,” from Detroit to Boston, New York to Chicago, Montreal to Toronto. It has, in the last 30 years, applied to places such as Philadelphia and even Dallas. Those are places [Capitals owner Ted] Leonsis has spent time studying.

“There are cities that you say, ‘Well, how did they become hockey towns and do so great?’ ” Leonsis said. “They won championships. That’s the answer. That’s why, to me, everything else is noise.”

Nothing succeeds like winning. There are other avenues to success, of course. Leonsis himself had high hopes when he first bought the team back at the turn of the century. Drawing from his background with AOL, he had visions of building an online-driven, superstation-like fanbase for the Caps, similar to what the Atlanta Braves achieved in the ’80s and ’90s via the pre-Time Warner TBS. That never took off, so back to square one: Winning championships with personable players. Sound strategy.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 01/24/2009 04:52:53 PM
Category: Hockey, SportsBiz
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Interesting analysis of the Folger Shakespeare Library’s exhibition, “Breaking News: Renaissance Journalism and the Birth of the Newspaper”, positing that the formation of a post-medieval society is the result of the galvanizing action of centralized news-gathering and reporting:

…But the story of how journalism became a public enterprise in Renaissance England is actually the history of how a public itself took shape; how out of a monarchical society in which great poverty and great wealth cohabited, another kind of identity evolved. It was based on slowly increasing literacy and impassioned written argument; it included curiosity about gossip and a taste for exotic tales; and it developed alongside a new commercial world in which written advertising, like the news it accompanied, helped shape taste and expectations.

Look carefully, and it is really the birth of the modern West that we see taking place here: snippets of news and sensation helped define a shared experience of the past and present, as political debates laid the foundations of democratic culture. If the Reformation is often credited with having turned the West toward the Enlightenment, another such force must be the growing taste for news and its multiple retellings. While other cultures were arguing over the interpretations of sacred texts, England’s was arguing over the nature of government in print. We are the beneficiaries…

The journalistic enterprise itself led to an expanded sense of the importance of individual opinion and even provided glimpses of something like public opinion. The result was a revolution in the ways citizens thought about themselves and their government.

It might seem like aggrandizing Old Media to suggest that we wouldn’t be who we collectively are without the dead-tree editions. If the historical view doesn’t set well with you, then forward the concept into the present and future:

Just as pre-printing press news was distributed via personal letters and journals, so too does modern, individually-generated information and expression get disseminated online via forums, blogs, Facebook, and every other Internet-based outlet. The same galvanizing force is at play. And in the same sense, the Internet Age is crafting a new idea of a “public”: More niche-based but as broad as the old mass-market entity. History is repeating itself, with network servers doing today what printing presses did 400 years ago, and we’ll redefine ourselves accordingly.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 01/24/2009 04:20:25 PM
Category: History, Media, Society
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The NYT’s Economixers pose an interesting question about the high-stakes world of theatrical-play production: Why don’t they make movie-like sequels for Broadway?

Why wouldn’t this strategy also be true on the stage? Theater is a high-risk, low-return investment. Producers who hope to make a profit (and not all do) tend to be risk-averse, opting for tried-and-true revivals of plays and musicals. If “Guys and Dolls” was a hit once, surely it can be a hit again and again.

In other words, many theater producers and investors hoping to make money favor “safe” productions, which, given evidence from Hollywood, should include sequels. Yet sequels to theatrical blockbusters (think “The Producers”) are almost unheard of. I’m not talking about those cultural products originally crafted as a serial, like the “The Coast of Utopia” or “Angels in America.” I’m talking about the productions that were done after the original became a commercial hit, a la “Revenge of the Nerds.”

So why no “Speed-The-Plow 2″, or even an operatic follow-up like “Doctor Atomic: Fallout”? Part of the explanation is that, since most of the successful stage plays are dramas, their resolutions don’t easily lend themselves to extended storylines. Of course, where sequels are concerned, you can stretch anything out; so even if “Death of a Salesman” seemingly ends conclusively with Willy Loman’s demise, Part II could find an audience with an examination of Biff Loman some twenty years later. (Not to give anyone ideas.)

Personally, I think the typical older-skewing demographic of the theater-goer precludes the success of sequeling, for the same reasons why movie sequels don’t fly with the same audience:

…I have a feeling that numbers in a movie title are more a turn-off for older viewers. They’ve seen that device for too many years, and have been burned too many times by crappy movies, that they’re now jaded to it. Younger moviegoers, on the other hand, haven’t experienced as many letdowns, and so are likely more charitable toward the numbered titles.

Basically, putting “2″ after any title these days is like providing a punchline — those who’ve been around practically expect a crappy product. It would take a lot of marketing build-up to convince an audience that’s already difficult to persuade. As much as banking on familiarity would result in a lucrative payoff, there’s probably too much heavy lifting involved to pull it off.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 01/24/2009 03:11:41 PM
Category: Business, Media, Movies
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