Seinfeld Vs. Burger King: The Value of Portion Control

Posted on May 6, 2011


Jerry Seinfeld is making his first foray onto the Web with the launch of The site will feature an archive of performances from across the entirety of his stand-up comedy career; three clips at a time. 

The limited content is not because he’s short on material. According to a New York Times article Seinfeld has combed through his personal vault and assembled a collection of several thousand clips.

What’s the deal with that?

According to Seinfeld it’s about portion control and not wanting everything all at one time, “Burger King now has a burger where you decide how many patties. How disgusting is that? That’s the problem right there. That’s the cultural moment that I am repudiating here.”

While I would argue that there are benefits, regardless of whether we are talking comedy, beef patties or on-air content,  to giving consumers the ability to choose what they want when they want it, I’m not sure that portion control is an opposing concept.

Instead, I see Seinfeld’s plan to only post three comedy bits each day as a perfect way to reinforce the importance of structuring your content in a way that regularly gives listeners a reason to tune-in another time, be it later in the same show or the next day.

Here’s why this is important.

Before the PPM, conventional radio wisdom was always focused on getting listeners to stay longer. Using Seinfeld’s site as an analogy, if that were really beneficial he would want to make his entire library of clips available on the site so people would stay longer.

In reality there is very little you can do to influence people to stay with your Web site, or in our case station, longer. 

When they arrive at work the commute is over and the car — including the radio —  turns off so they can go inside.

People listening at their desk,  no matter how compelling you are, will not miss a meeting with their boss to listen.


What you can affect is whether they tune back in after the meeting or when they get in the car the next morning. Arbitron’s PPM data clearly illustrates that the most successful stations get more “occasions” of listening per person.

Seinfeld seems to innately understand this concept. He believes most consumers only want five or six minutes of interaction at a time when it comes to Web sites or apps. 

However, by posting a limited amount of material he is all but guaranteeing more occasions… of laughter.