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Need for Content Fed By Nostalgia Media

Twice in recent weeks, I’ve been in my car when SiriusXM played complete concerts from the 1980s. First it was Bruce Springsteen, then Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers. These both caught my notice, so I pulled over and jotted down the concert dates. When I got home, checked my ticket archives. Sure enough, I had been at both concerts.

Since few live recordings ever got released back in the day, I never knew that most big rock bands have been taping all their concerts for decades. And now SiriusXM provides an outlet for those to be shared – and no doubt monetized.

In an odd way, the incredible demand for content in our current media marketplace is pulling out forgotten corners of our past and dusting them off.

Other Blasts from the Past

Also on SiriusXM are weekend runs of Kasey Kasem’s America’s Top 40, as heard on on Channel 7, the 70’s music channel. This weekend was a rebroadcast from February 1977, when I was a junior in high school. Many of those songs were burned into my memory banks – but there were also a few of which I had no recollection despite being top hits.

Aside from music, it seems almost every old TV show has been licensed to show on either a streaming channel or on a digital broadcast diginet. This is a phenomenon I discussed some time ago in a previous post. TV series I never ever thought I’d see again show up somewhere. It takes a lot of content to feed the gaping maw of the OTT monster we’ve created.

Even when it comes to print, there is a market for past content. There are fee-based aggregators of such items as yearbooks and newspapers. Curious what that girl/guy you had a crush on in college actually looked like, since other than their name they’re long forgotten? It’s possible if they’re in a yearbook index. Or, recently, I looked up my father in Newspapers.com – and found they had almost a dozen pages where he placed ads trying to get customers to come in and buy a car (he was a car salesman).

Heading to San Junipero?

Up through the early 1900s, nostalgia was considered a serious mental illness. Today, it’s money in the bank. But to actually hear something from a fleeting moment, like a concert, that I experienced but would never expect to hear again, is both very cool as well as a little unnerving. It’s possible to reconstruct a lot of our media past from the content now available online. I suppose the ultimate nostalgia trip would be that seen in the San Junipero episode of Black Mirror – but we’re some ways from that… I think.

David Tice is the principal of TiceVision LLC, a media research consultancy.
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