Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Will I Be Recapping Survivor And The Amazing Race?

With the new seasons of Survivor and The Amazing Race set to kick off next week, I thought I should address the status of my recaps, and what I’m planning for the upcoming seasons. As many of you know (or may have read in a previous post from March), I was taking a break from my recaps since everything was pretty busy. So the question is: Will I be recapping again for this season?
Before I answer that, let me give you a little bit of background on how these recaps came to be. At first, I just started making ‘Random Thoughts’ on the episodes, back when everything on here was simply in bullet-point Random Thought format. That evolved into posts on the individual episodes, and when the response was so positive, I obviously put a lot more effort into the recaps. Before long, with 10,000 hits/month, I wasn’t writing anything other than these recaps any more, and they were taking a lot of effort to come up with the ‘product’ that I wanted.
Now, I know that you can find any smarmy, sarcastic guy on the internet ranting about your favourite show. I’m not egotistical enough to think that I’m the only one that does that. But I also know that the major appeal of my recaps vs. others was that it was always up within an hour of the show ending. I mean, on Thursday morning, you can find 300 Survivor Recaps, but at 10:00 pm ET on Wednesday night, you can only find a handful. And with the proper promotion, you can ensure that when people are searching “Survivor Recap”and the date, you’re going to be one of the first hits, as long as you have a recap published by then.
But it’s a lot of work.
So, on Wednesdays for Survivor, for instance, I would get home from work, have dinner, and then by 7:00, I would write my teaser post, and search for any photos available from the upcoming episode. After that, I would have to load the photos to a dummy location to ensure when I was done my actual recap, I could just cut and paste the photos in where I wanted them instead of waiting to load them all. This would take close to an hour, so now we’re coming up on when the show airs live on the East Coast.
So at 8:00 ET, the show starts, and I’m watching with my laptop on my lap. I’m a quick typer, so I can jot my bullet points down as the episode goes on without really missing anything, but often I would have to pause the show (on DVR) and back it up to see something I may have missed, or to get the exact wording of a quote I wanted to use. I would make up all of the time on the commercial breaks, so I would finish watching at the same time, but it was always staggered with watching, pausing, typing, then watching, pausing, typing, etc… That’s not a fun way to watch your favourite show, trust me.
Now the show is over at 9:00, and I take my bullet points that I’ve been taking throughout the show, and write the recap itself. That usually takes about 30-40 minutes. After that, I work the photos in where I want them to go, and add some snippy little captions for each…then hit PUBLISH, and it’s up and live. This is usually done by 10:00 pm.
But there’s still more work. I now have to post links on Facebook at places where readers are used to getting them, as well as Twitter, and a few message boards. Yes, I know, it’s just self-promotion, but if you want readers, they have to come from somewhere. I’m happy that once I got readers, I was pretty consistently able to retain them, but you have to get them to begin with. The amount of work I had to do posting at these locations would take close to an hour.
So now, I’ve been working on this recap for about 4 hours. It’s late, I’m tired, I have to work the next morning, and I’ve barely spent any time with my girlfriend. (Thankfully my son isn’t with me on Wednesdays.) That’s a pretty big commitment. Factor in that I’m also doing it on Sunday nights for The Amazing Race, and there are 2 nights gone for the week.

 And here’s the thing…I love doing these recaps. They’re fun, and a great way for me to express my sense of humour, and sarcastically look at the show.
But my son is 11 years old, and spending time with him is way more important that watching TV. My girlfriend and I just bought our dream home and moved in 2 weeks ago, and I’d rather enjoy that experience as we adjust to our new lives there. I'm doing a lot of television work with local sports which keeps me very busy. Also, I’d much prefer to record Survivor and watch it later before bed, instead of making sure I’m in front of a TV at 8:00. And watching the show without having to pause it constantly is really, really enjoyable.
Here’s the thing, I still love writing about the show, but I know that if I write the next day and post it at some point on Thursday, I’ll probably get only 10-15% of the traffic than getting the recaps up within an hour of the show. Never mind that the recaps would actually be better because I wouldn’t have only an hour to digest the show, but now I’m just a small fish in a big pond. Add in the fact that I was dealing with some serious negativity and abuse over the recaps (specifically at ew.com), and even dealing with plagiarism, as it was discovered that someone was actually stealing my recaps…almost word-for-word. I’m not going to lie, that was a HUGE factor in this process becoming sour for me.
And keep in mind, that all this time, all the seasons I recapped for Survivor and The Amazing Race (and Big Brother for a while), I never made a penny. Not one single cent. I did it because I wanted to. Hey, if someone out there wants to actually pay me to write my recaps for their site, I’m sure I could work it in, but that would obviously be a different situation. I wouldn’t be getting them online until the next day…life is too important. And just writing is much easier than everything that was involved with producing my recaps.
I’m guessing by this time, you’ve probably figured out that I’m not going to be recapping Survivor and The Amazing Race anymore. I hope all of my regular readers (many of whom I can call friends now) will understand, and those of you who have connected with me on Facebook or Twitter will remain as friends.
Before I started recapping, I used to read Josh Wolk's recaps of The Amazing Race. If you never read any of his stuff, do yourself a favour and look it up. He is, quite frankly, the funniest man on the planet. When he decided to stop (due to similar family/work commitments), I was devastated, and that really lit a fire under me to start recapping myself. Maybe someone out there is reading this post right now and thinking the same thing. If so, I look forward to reading YOUR recaps.
I have to especially thank my girlfriend Devena, my partner in every sense of the word, who for the last 3 years has been 100% supportive of my commitment to these recaps. Life is better with you by my side.
Thanks to everyone who read and commented over the years. Your enjoyment and support was my motivation for doing it for so long.