Red Green Show Thrives Thanks To The Internet And A Whole Lot Of Duct Tape

from the quando-omni-flunkus-moritati dept

This one is a tad old, but it is certainly worth sharing. A while back, Chuck Norris’ Enemy (deceased) sent in this great interview with Steve Smith, the creative mind and star of the Red Green Show. This show, for those who are not familiar with it, is the amalgamation of comedy, handyman, and personal counseling all wrapped up in duct tape and presented by the backwoods host Red Green. Just to give you a taste of what this show has to offer, here is one of my favorite skits from the show.

In this interview, Steve describes a few interesting things about what has happened to the show in the five years since it was taken off the air.

Q: It’s been more than five years since the show signed off, so how is the fan base growing?

A: Two things: No. 1 YouTube. I mean fans are putting clips up there, and we are getting response, and we are getting new viewers that have never seen the show, only the clips on YouTube. And then we started putting them up ourselves. We are putting all the episodes up. We have about 120 episodes on YouTube now. Soon we will have all 300 up.

The second one is Facebook. We are almost at 500,000 followers on Facebook, so we have this line of communication. So between those two, I’d say brand awareness is more than ever.”

What I find interesting here is that Steve has embraced the full potential of YouTube. Not only does he upload videos, he actually allows and encourages the uploading of clips by users. This line of thought is something that is completely absent from many others in the television and movie industries. They would rather control what is shared and what people are allowed to watch. Unfortunately for them, that attitude only results in a stale online presence. The ability for new fans to find your show and share it is key to surviving in this internet age.

Next we have Steve contemplating the future of the show.

Q: Will you ever bring the character back to television?

A: I really doubt it. For one thing, I’m really preferring the Internet to television these days. I like having direct contact with the fans rather than having to go through some middle man or interpreter. If I was to do anything, I would probably do it on the Internet rather than on TV.

Q: Have you considered a YouTube series or something similar?

A: Yeah. We’ve got some people that we’re talking to now that might want to do something like that, and that would interest me as opposed to the whole mess of a television series where you have to worry about the network folks. We don’t necessarily have overlapping agendas, and the older I get the harder it gets.”

Many skeptics of online business models would probably laugh at Steve over these responses. Those skeptics claim that the only way to succeed is to go through old and dying channels of television and theaters. Sadly, these same skeptics also would gloss over the fact that the Red Green Show has had more success in the five years it has been off the air than the entire time it was on air.

Another key point to take from this interview is the importance of connecting with fans. Much like many artists before him, Steve has recognized that and has placed the value of that connection far higher than any deal that a gatekeeper would offer. Why would Steve abandon what he has accomplished in the last five years to go back to being relegated to 10:30 pm Friday night on public television? Wouldn’t you rather give your fans 24 hour access to your content and in turn have 24 hour access to your fans?

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Comments on “Red Green Show Thrives Thanks To The Internet And A Whole Lot Of Duct Tape”

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Michael says:

“Wouldn’t you rather give your fans 24 hour access to your content and in turn have 24 hour access to your fans?”

Great quote.

The old media conglomerates would rather villanize their customers than win them over. That explains why people are not watching as much TV as they used to. Heck, there’s hardly anything worth watching these days.

Colin Davidson (profile) says:

Steve has never been much of a corporate guy. I remember seeing/reading an interview with him where he was asked how the Red Green show got started. He said he went to the CBC execs and asked them to give him enough money to make something, but not enough that they’d care what it was…

I’d say that attitude meshes pretty well with his views on the internet.

Michael says:


I’ve been watching less TV because, despite having hundreds of available channels, there’s less content worth watching than there used to be. Sure, there may be more convenient methods of watching/recording said content but it’s not worth the effort. Shows like NCIS, CSI, Survivor, et al. do absolutely nothing for me.

Colin Davidson (profile) says:

Steve has never been much of a corporate guy. I remember seeing/reading an interview with him where he was asked how the Red Green show got started. He said he went to the CBC execs and asked them to give him enough money to make something, but not enough that they’d care what it was…

I’d say that attitude meshes pretty well with his views on the internet.

Robert (profile) says:


How much money has he made in the last 5 yrs compared to when his show was on the networks?

That’s all the copyright supporters have to ask. They’ll argue he is making nothing or not as much as before, therefore he is worse off.

And whenever Lowery shows up as an AC he’ll champion that message.

The thing is, how will Steve make money in the future with YouTube besides advertising? I am sure it will take multiple methods and revenue streams, but it will be possible. There’s more than just tShirts and YouTube advertising dollars.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:


Even if the characters all grate on you, it’s all about how that show reinvented the sit-com. They drove the “show about nothing” thing annoyingly to the forefront in the later seasons, but that really was such a huge deal at the outset of Seinfeld. Those conversations they have in-show (about their show within the show) when they are debating silly premises like “we get in a car accident and the judge makes you be my butler” are spot-on. Seinfeld did have progenitors (like Cheers) that were already moving away from the gimmick-plot setup, but Seinfeld perfected it and really broke completely free from the old-mould of sitcoms. Plus, Larry David’s scripts are some of the finest farces ever written.

It’s impossible to imagine tv today without Seinfeld. The best example is Always Sunny In Philadelphia, which is in many ways Seinfeld 2.0 for a less responsible, more nihilistic generation. In the 90s, Kramer and George were the epitomes of adults who don’t have their life together — by today’s standards they seem downright responsible, and we need Charlie Kelly to laugh at.

PaulT (profile) says:


“They’ll argue he is making nothing or not as much as before, therefore he is worse off.”

Which is potentially true so long as the only value you place on a show is money, and you assume that whatever he was making on a network was sustainable in the long term. Both of these are assumptions with a lot of problems, and there are huge number of non-monetary ways in which a show can be valued (which, paradoxically, can indirectly lead to making more money).

“There’s more than just tShirts and YouTube advertising dollars.”

Indeed there is. Smart producers (like the ones highlighted in similar articles here) find ways to make money. Bad ones sit around and whine about the one revenue stream they depended on no longer being viable, and get the lawyers in to try and turn back time.

Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile) says:


First off, he doesn’t talk about the ‘network’ money from which he probably didn’t get much of a cut. It would be interesting to see the numbers, though. Of course, we are talking about advertising money either way. The show made money on the networks through advertising and the show makes money now on YouTube through advertising. Sure, they probably got more ad revenue per commercial on the network but much lower viewership. Now viewership is exploding beyond the network reach. Sure the ad rates are lower but the increase in views should make up the difference or perhaps better as we have seen in many examples. Let AC (Lowery) continue to think his way is the only way as extinction looms closer.

E. Zachary Knight (profile) says:


Don’t really know how much money the show made being on public television and all. However, I guess it was worth mentioning in the post, but got overlooked.

Steve Smith has a very popular and very profitable traveling stand up act. That is where he makes the real money. He also makes money from the books he has written.

He has recognized that the show is not a scarcity and his live performance is. So he gives away the show to help sell his performance.

L Merfud says:


… people are not watching as much TV as they used to Heck, there’s hardly anything worth watching these days

My God, you found something? What the hell is it ?!

Seriously, it’s all over for “Broadcast” TV, where the fix (for too many commercials and zero content) from the “Broadcast” TV Braintrust is: more commercials and less content.

And they pay these people, right?

Vincent Clement (profile) says:


That explains why YOU are not watching as much TV as YOU used to. TV sucks for you. Fine. But for other people, it doesn’t.

The “it used to be better before” is a tired meme. It constantly comes up whenever you talk about music. ‘Today’s music sucks and that’s why the recording industry is in trouble’ is a common statement. Popular music – and popular TV – have been around forever. That will never change.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Lol. You can’t just pick a random show that is your favourite and say it’s “easily” the best show on tv. And I never said every single show has direct Seinfeld lineage – I said Seinfeld changed TV in such a big way that it’s impossible to imagine what the overall landscape (especially in comedy) would look like today if it had never existed.

Anonymous Coward says:

To understand this, you have to go back and look at the history of Steve Smith a bit, to understand why he thinks the way he does.

Smith was part of a singing duo with his with, called “Smith and Smith” (I know, trite, but hey). He’s been around at it a very long time (he is turning 66 this year). Their experiences are mostly is working with the smaller audiences of Canadian local TV and such.

His internet audience of 50,000 followers is likely bigger than the general viewership of much of the work he has done in his life. It shows where it’s a godsend for what is effectively a marginal player, someone who’s work, while good, isn’t popular enough to merit a continued long run on TV. It should be noted that one of the reasons The Red Green show ran as long as it did is Canadian Content regulations. It pulled enough of an audience to hold it’s spot over even less interesting locally produced fair.

Jason (profile) says:

More innovative than you know!

Back in the 90’s, the show was a huge innovation (in production and business). He couldn’t get renewed, so he _bought_ primetime airtime (~7:30 if I remember) on one of the national networks (CanWest Global) himself and sold his own advertising.

He turned the broadcaster into a dumb pipe, got himself an audience and went from there.

xenomancer (profile) says:


Right, but I think the point everyone has been making is that the content that may or may not be decaying or maturing in quality is quickly shifting its upward trending production volume to more convenient platforms (for the consumers AND producers), and that the content that is left over on the aging infrastructure is simply not keeping pace in quality with the newer stuff due to the significantly lower quantity. That discrepancy alone should make one pine for “the good old days,” until the realization of how suffocating they really were sets in.

Chaz D says:

RedGreen Fan

I’ve been a fan of the show since 1996. I own the complete set of episodes on DVD and all the specials. Last year I got to meet Red in person after one of his wit and wisdom shows. Like one other guy there said, “It was like seeing an old friend after many years”. For me, there’s something deeper than the silly humor, though I love that. When I was going through some tough times, the comic relief helped restore my sanity. My 13 year old son and my uncle were also big fans. They’re both gone on to heaven now, but I keep watching the show, enjoying it in the present as well as the journey into the pleasant memories of the past with which it is connected.

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