An Open Letter To Charlie Rose

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Dear Mr. Rose,

I’m a huge fan of your show. I can’t watch it all of the time (I’m a bit of an early-riser, so staying up past 11:30 pm and being able to focus becomes complex), but I never want to miss a moment of your show. It used to be easy enough. You used to have the videos for all of your interviews not only posted on your website, but on Google Video as well. I was able to not only enjoy them, but embed them here on this Blog, and spread the good word that is the Charlie Rose Show with everyone who is connected here.

Something changed and I don’t know why.

In the past little while, I’ve noticed that your website has changed. Sure, you stream some of the recent episodes, but they’re all locked in a Flash player now and the archive of the older episodes are gone (but it’s weird because some are still there). I can no longer share them all (only some), embed them (only some) or even find things in an easy and accessible way on your website. This is making me sad and confused. From what I can tell, your show runs mostly on PBS and the money derived from it is either by endowment, donation or by "viewers like you" (there are never commercials). I’m happy to pay. I’m happy to make my yearly donation to public television in support of great content like your show, and I’m happy to pay even more (I’d even do it directly to the owners of The Charlie Rose Show) to be able to watch it when I want, how I want and where I want it (I’m fine if you don’t want me sharing the video content too).

But before we stop all of that sharing, let’s really look at the situation.

I’m probably on the younger side of your target demographic. In the coming years, you’re no doubt going to experience some of the turbulence that other traditional media is facing. I know you know this, because you’ve had in-depth conversations on your show with people like Malcolm Gladwell, Ken Auletta, Chris Anderson, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Marc Andreessen, Michael Arrington and many others. You understand the changes and how New Media is challenging traditional mass media. Why not let people watch all of your interviews via Google Video and YouTube (how about even selling them on iTunes) in one cohesive manner? There’s nothing stopping you from running pre-roll and post-roll commercials. You can even put them in-between the segments if you so choose. I think I speak for all of your fans when I say that we’re all willing to watch commercials when they’re wrapped around so much valuable content and insight. Isn’t that the whole point of the advertising in the fist place? Putting a specific brand message in front of people who are interested in Charlie Rose?

Why not extend it online fully and in a comprehensive way?

This model isn’t perfect for every type of TV show (then again, maybe it is!), but it is perfect for your show. People who love you (like I do), will probably talk more about you, tell their family, friends and co-workers about one of your stimulating conversations and – ultimately – really help to grow your audience. If your advertising model is not based on the same tenets as traditional TV (which it doesn’t seem to be), how can opening up your content online be a bad thing?

I hope you’ll consider this plea.

I want more great Charlie Rose conversations in my life and I want to share them with everyone I know. I don’t mind the commercials or sponsorship announcements… in fact, I love them because those brands, products and services are doing something very important: they’re supporting great content like yours. In turn, I am a proud supporter of brands that think (and act) in that manner.

Please consider changing how people can get your content (and where they can get it). Make it easier and make it cohesive. Something tells me you’ll earn more fans, faster which will lead to newer fans and more longevity and depth for your amazing work.


  1. I see that Charlie Rose can now be seen on Bloomberg TV. Wonder if that is the cause of what you discuss above.

  2. Mitch, in your recent podcast with Seth Godin he talked about the “drip, drip, drip” nature of his work/success. When I hear that it makes sense but I still find myself drawn to the idea of a silver bullet. Perhaps Charlie Rose succumbed to the allure of possible success, piggyback-style with a large, existing audience (Bloomberg) vs. sure-fire success, drip-drip-drip-style by equipping and partnering with his existing audience.

  3. And where the hell is full screen!?
    I love me some Charlie Rose but I haven’t been able to stomach the show’s web presence for years—seriously, YEARS.

  4. I love Charlie but clog my DVR with episodes to watch because web is painful. I would pay subscription to podcast right to my iTunes account so at least I could watch on my iPhone while traveling or communiting. TED does it for free but has it figured it out. I’m willing to pay.

  5. I agree with much of this, however, we’re talking PBS. While I agree that a payment model might work I don’t agree how an advertising model can. What frees up PBS to do what it does (ie controversial guests on shows like Charlie Rose, and controversial topics on shows like Frontline) is that it doesn’t have to concern itself with pleasing (or displeasing) advertisers.
    On a less important but curious note – I’m not sure how Malcolm Gladwell warrants being grouped with the likes of Chris Anderson, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Marc Andreessen, not to mention Jeff Bezos and others who have actually talked about new media models on Charlie Rose???

  6. I enjoyed reading your public letter.
    I used to enjoy watching Charlie Rose show on pbs. However, I don’t watch conventional television anymore. I don’t subscribe to cable and I don’t have an antenna to hook up to my tv. I don’t have an issue finding content for viewing on my television however through podcasts, netflix, hulu, etc. The Charlie Rose show is one of those exceptions, and I wish I could still watch the show.

  7. Arg! The “black” version of the website is so buggy, it hardly ever works. I am amazed when it does, I check every day. Every once in a while it wil play.. @Mac 10.6 Firefox, Chrome, Safari… nothing! Some poor web development is to blame. Please, for the love of Charlie, Fix It!

  8. Now that the Charlie Rose show has switched to Hulu, I can’t even watch it in Canada anymore. It’s sad that one of the best (and most important) shows on television is nearly impossible to access for many people outside the United States. I’d love an audio podcast version, as well, and would happily subscribe, but nothing. It seems kind of ridiculous in this day and age.
    Enjoying your new book by the way 🙂

  9. I too, am amazed and dismayed to see access to Charlie Rose going backwards. I have enjoyed the show for years on the web, and now I’m completely unable to access the videos. I wonder why they switched to Hulu and redesigned the site. It doesn’t make any sense to me.

  10. Came upon your comments when trying to discover whether Charlie Rose was available in podcast – have watched (actually more like listened) to Charlie from the beginning – and have noticed that in the past couple years things have been happening to make even consistent access to his program even on PBS has been difficult – I too would pay to have access to podcasts thru subscription like itunes – thanks for your open letter – for years I went “to bed” with Charlie Rose – he is late night tv for me as Johnny Carson was for others – more access and portable access would be terrific – Liz, London, Cnd.

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