Does old content have a bright future?

Posted by Rob Walker on August 21, 2008
Posted Under: Entertainment

In the WSJ’s story today about Seinfeld doing ads for Microsoft, I thought the most interesting thing was this bit, toward the end, about the state of “Seinfeld” ten years after the sitcom ended:

After 10 years of reruns and only occasional appearances by Mr. Seinfeld in the media, keeping the franchise fresh with younger adults is a concern. Last week, Sony Corp.’s Sony Pictures Television, which distributes “Seinfeld” in U.S. syndication, announced the “Seinfeld Campus Tour,” in which it’s sending a 60-foot “Seinfeld”-themed bus to U.S. colleges to drum up interest in “a new generation of viewers,” a spokeswoman said.

Will people watch “Seinfeld” forever, like “I Love Lucy”? Actually, what about “I Love Lucy” — will there come a time when those reruns finally fade from the airwaves? How about, I don’t know, “MASH”? Is anybody watching those shows for the first time, or do they stay on the air for reasons having more to do with nostalgia?

Maybe it’s routine, but I’ve never heard of an explicit marketing effort to rope in a “new generation” of fans for a dead show.

Then again, maybe a dead show that achieved near-universal awareness from the mass era has a built-in advantage.

Further diversion may be found at MKTG Tumblr, and the Consumed Facebook page.

Reader Comments

I was on the bus last week. Saw the mansierre/”bro” ( and got some free, non-fat frozen yogurt (

Written By Seth on August 21st, 2008 @ 9:47 am

“I Love Lucy” DVDs are a hot gift among the tweens, at least in my corner of the world. Prompted discussions about smoking, gender roles, and physical comedy.

Written By Lisa @ Corporate Babysitter on August 21st, 2008 @ 9:54 am

I use to carry all 9 seasons of Seinfeld on my iPod. I never watched the show when it first aired, but after catching reruns on TBS for years, I’ve had to stop myself from bringing it up daily.. “it’s like the Seinfeld episode when..” I hate being that guy.

Seinfeld is such a classic and timeless show that even 10 years later it is still completely relevant in almost every episode. Aside from an occasional shot of Seinfeld’s archaic computer or his car phone, the creators did well to avoid using many dated elements during production.

The idea of marketing a dead show (a good one) is a great way to continue bringing in revenue. I also agree that Seinfeld’s universal appeal gives it an advantage that makes it feasible to do so.. However, there does seem to be a trend of shows gaining in popularity after they’re no longer on air—think Arrested Development.

Written By BWJ on August 21st, 2008 @ 11:33 am

Oh…and I’m pretty sure that the archaic computer used in Seinfeld’s apartment was a Mac!

Written By BWJ on August 21st, 2008 @ 11:48 am

“Maybe it’s routine, but I’ve never heard of an explicit marketing effort to rope in a “new generation” of fans for a dead show.”

How about all the movies that have been cranked out, both good and bad. I’m sure they push DVD sales of the original show.

Written By Rick Liebling on August 21st, 2008 @ 1:58 pm

Oh yeah… I didn’t get into MASH until I was 30 or 31. There was certainly a nostalgia factor, but I remembered it mostly as a show my dad liked and I barely tolerated as a child. I should say that I study TV and Film in a PhD program, but I really enjoy its story-telling and they way it shows humanity during a time of war.

When I came back to Seinfeld as a college student, the characters seemed like spoiled jerks, but it’s probably my taste in humor more than any reflection of mainstream taste.

Written By McChris on August 22nd, 2008 @ 1:36 am

There may be a new generation of viewers, but I doubt it will have anything to do with a 60 foot bus.

Written By Brandon on August 24th, 2008 @ 5:51 pm

Actually, Seinfeld might find its way into hip hop culture, if Wale has anything to do with it. Check this out:

Or did Sony pay Wale to murket Seinfeld?!

Written By Rebecca on August 24th, 2008 @ 7:58 pm

Interesting (at least to me) sidenote: In one episode of his show, the Seinfeld character claims to have never, ever seen an episode of “I Love Lucy”. I assume this comes from Seinfeld’s real-life experience. And yet, being a fellow New York-area native (albeit several years younger), I find the claim hard to believe, as “Lucy” afternoon reruns were on the air in the tri-state area well into the 80s, and thus were hard to avoid…

Written By CT on August 24th, 2008 @ 9:50 pm

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