Business English podcast 3: Dog TV and Cable television

by Lynch A.K.A 'The Regulator' on August 5, 2012

Pet business in the US: PODCAST IN ENGLISH

Today’s class for ESL teachers is based on a Businessweek article called ‘Barking mad.’ When you listen to this business English podcast you might start questioning your comprehension because the subject is so crazy.

Well, guess what everybody? This week sees the launch of Dog.TV in the United States. “So what?” I hear you say, “What’s so interesting about a channel all about dogs? Well, that’s the thing folks – be careful with your prepositions – it’s not a channel all about dogs… it’s a channel for dogs. Yes… you heard it right… a channel for dogs. And just to repeat it again for our students of lower levels. The audience of Dog TV will in fact be dogs.

Now, there’s this great expression in English… “Barking mad”… Barking is the noise which dogs make… and “barking mad” means “extremely crazy.” I teach you this because the majority of you are saying that of all the business ideas in the world this has to be the most stupid… in fact, you think it’s barking mad.

This business English podcast makes you think: can you imagine pitching the idea to an investor? “Yeah, well, it’s like a TV channel… but instead of being for humans it’s for dogs.” You’d be like… “Well, I’m not gonna invest my money in that.”

However, there are two things you probably haven’t taken into account. Firstly, that a large percentage of the citizens of the United States are themselves barking mad, and secondly, that dog owners feel guilty about leaving their dogs alone, and dogs alone at home end up chewing wires, barking, and annoying the neighbours. Furthermore, dog minders charge a high rate of pay, and any service such as which claims will ‘soothe your dog, reduce his level of nervousness and entertain him while you’re at work…’ could be attractive for millions of dog owners in the US.

The question is therefore, does it work? Is it possible to create content that engages the canine audience… Preliminary market research hasn’t shown much… other than apparently dogs don’t like barking dogs on TV. Apparently it makes them nervous. The content therefore – which is a strange colour to us (because dogs are largely colour blind) features riveting shows with Chihuahuas and Yorkshire terriers running across meadows while relaxing dog music plays in the background.

Dog TV has in fact secured a lot of venture capital money. The fact that there is no audio in English or any other language means the content can be syndicated to global cable networks without the usual problems of translation and cultural relevance. For the moment however, the networks are cautious. The service is only available on a trial basis in the San Diego area.

Let’s see my friends, if it catches on.

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