The Internet Killed 106 & Park. Plus 4 More Reasons It Was Cancelled
BET recently announced that the network will be canceling 106 & Park as a live music video show and taking the program 100% digital. After a notable 14-year run saying goodbye to the show a generation watched faithfully after school or work may have come with a little reflection, but bye-byes were probably in order long ago when we found out that original hosts AJ & Free were leaving. Or when BET cancelled Rap City, another influential music video hour. We should have seen what was coming. The Internet killed 106 & Park. So where did 106 go wrong? Maybe the dependency on one or two mediums for spreading music was the problem. It’s impossible to pinpoint one reason without being an insider for the show. So we brainstormed a few different reasons why the inevitable had to happen to the perfect, urban match-up against MTV’s beloved TRL.
We live in the “microwave age”. Millennials as consumers want things that are readily available whenever, wherever a strong wifi connection is located. That goes for those in the classroom and those building their careers. Everyone’s life has been disturbed by technology advancement and common access to the world wide web. With every passing day there’s a new kid who will only know the convenience of these innovations. No way this generation is going to wait until 5pm for the show to start, or 6:55pm to see the “best” video of the day that was probably the third best the day before. Audiences, especially the young teenage audience the 106 & Park targets – our attention spans don’t operate the same way as when the program aired for the first time in year 2000. Now that’s not always a good thing, but it’s valid evidence.
As early as 2010 the New York Times reported that if your kid is awake, he or she is probably online. Boys and girls age 8 to 18 spend up to 8 hours online a day. Most young adults are not patient enough to wait through an entire 2-hour show just to see 10 music videos. They can see those 10 music videos in a span of 20 minutes through other outlets like Youtube. Notably, a high percentage of these viewers have smart phones that can get the same and even more content they want, when they want it – taking away the urgency of knowing when new music can be discovered. The Internet closes the gap between content and the consumer. The anticipation factor is no longer there. In the past, 106 could say that a world premiere is coming out on Friday and the anticipation alone would work as marketing along with other BET specials that highlight the making of and build up for popular music projects. Now, no one is waiting for anything. There are so many media outlets regurgitating the same content. By 6pm, it’s old news. If 106 & Park is no longer the place where people tune in to see the new and current, what use does it have on the air besides aggregating sounds already in your iTunes library? Rhetorical questions are fun.
106 & Park may not head the table for breaking new music, but you won’t get moments like this anywhere else:
Like most things altered in some way by the Internet, 106 ultimately had to turn to the very thing responsible for its downfall as a primary distributor of the show. 106 & Park will now only be available online freeing the prime after school special slot for BET for the first time in 14 years. Though long overdue, the 106 run is impressive. It’s gone digital, but what extent of digital is that? 106 & Park could turn into your run of the mill music blog for BET if it is not careful. As the artists are getting smart and using social media and other music platforms to build their brands, so should programs that revolve around such artists.
To avoid becoming a copycat of sites like StupidDope, Complex, and RapRadar, the programming must go deeper than mainstream rap and R&B. The repurposed vision for the music video show is both a graceful bow out of the restricted world of TV and a chance for the brand to focus more on unsigned artists with extraordinary followings to match their talent.
As a “leader of and mirror to youth culture”, the spirit of 106 will carry on with the network’s special programming but will 106 & Park – the online content site – be up for the wild west fight on the Internet? This is the end of 106 & Park as we know it. Let’s not forget those notable moments in 106 history that were raw illustrations of a culture both underrated and underrepresented.
More on why it’s time to say goodbye
- Following the resignation of AJ & Free, the show failed to come up with personalities that blended as well as the original duo. And then again, there were too many short-term hosts to remember.
- The show forgot to explore other realms of black or hip hop music outside of mainstream radio airplay. It would have been nice to see the show grow and market, if just a little bit, to the audience that helped the show become so popular.
- The music industry as a whole changed. Videos aren’t as prevalent as they were in previous decades. Making the video special has been reduced to a 2 minute youtube spot and an IG post.
- Somehow Bow Wow went from being “Mr. 106 & Park” from his Lil Bow Wow days, to the one reading the prompter, and then showed the world just how corny he could be.