I've always agreed with the general sentiment (that eventually we aren't going to watch TV in the same way because of the internet), but thought that it's much farther away than these people claim. It sorta began with what Jeff Zucker did at NBC. He thought it was happening then, and adjusted NBC's old model to that, and failed horribly. Because the change isn't here yet.
But much like the Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer, I'm frightened and confused by this whole thing. And I'm very confused by what this article, and this guy specifically, is saying. Let's break it down:
"If not for live sports, which are consumed by exactly one member of our household (me), there is no way we would be paying for cable TV or any other kind of traditional pay TV anymore."Okay, what? You're telling me that the internet (Hulu, Netflix, Itunes, etc) is right now sufficiently covering what cable/satellite does? How does this work exactly?
"We still consume some TV content, but we consume it when and where we want it, and we consume it deliberately: In other words, we don't settle down in front of the TV and watch "what's on."I don't understand this! I get that I'm sounding like an old, out of touch old man here, but probably the thing I like the most about TV is settling down in front of it and watching "what's on". I love the randomness of it.
I've watched Tango and Cash 3 times in the last month. If I had Tango and Cash on my DVR, I would never watch it. Ever. But seeing that it's randomly on Saturday afternoon? Sure, I'll check out the prison escape again!
Another example of how I do things: The show Friends is on constantly on multiple channels. I could season pass any of them and have a million episodes on my DVR to choose from. But guess what? I don't like choosing from them! I love that someone scheduled a marathon on TBS, and when it's halftime of the Heat game, I can turn the channel and watch a little bit of it. If it was recorderd? I'd never watch it in a million years.
Having 500 channels and watching "what's on" is what TV is all about for me. And I think this implies something more:
That we know exactly what we want to watch.
I watch TV, I read about it, I work in it, I think I know it as well anyone, and I don't know what I want to watch. I like to be surprised about what's on. I like to discover new shows. I can't think of a worse TV experience then sitting around and going, "all right, time for me to watch that episode of Grey's Anatomy, let me go to Itunes for it". That's not how I watch TV. I turn it on, and then...surprises await!
What am I, a God Damn computer? I'm gonna be responsible now for thinking up every movie that's ever been made and remember that I'd like to watch it? That's what HBO and FX and Showtime and that stupid Direct TV channel is for. They have libraries of junk and a guy who sits there and goes, "what is it, June 3rd? Let's put Air Force One on again". They are there to remind me, remind all of us, oh yeah, I love Tommy Boy! I'm in! We're not gonna remember that all the time.
And, again with the exception of live sports, we've gotten so used to watching shows and series without ads that ads now seem extraordinarily intrusive and annoying. Our kids see TV ads so rarely that they're actually curious about and confused by them: "What is that? A commercial?"I'm not a complete dinosaur, I've watched shows on the internet. I've done it a lot, actually. And you know what it had a lot of? Commercials. Hulu is the worst. There's no skipping those. So I don't know what the fuck this dude is talking about.
This also gets into the area of what happened to the music business. People are so proud of this not watching commercials thing. Commercials are the reason networks invest money into TV shows. They are the reason this stuff is good. So I'm okay with watching commercials as long as they keep making new episodes of Revenge.
"Networks" are completely meaningless. We don't know or care which network owns the rights to a show or where it was broadcast. The only question that's relevant is whether it's available on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, or iTunes. This means that one of the key traditional "businesses" of TV--the network--is obsolete.Then how do you know what new shows are even on? Shouldn't you care who is making them? AMC is going to make a different kind of show than CBS. Without commercials and networks, I don't understand how you're finding out about these shows. Are we just going to get stuck with what's currently on forever and ever? Or is this guy dependent on people like me, who actually LOVE TV, to tell the idiots what is good.
I think there's some argument that goes, "it'll be just like the internet, where you only go to the sites you like only when you want to, and they're there". Guess what? That's not good! You are missing things you might be interested in every day because you don't know about it.
Now imagine there's a "guide" button on the internet, and you hit it, and then a giant scroll comes up, and it says what news and articles are on every different website, now that's helpful. That's cable TV! Isn't it great? I think so.
The fact is, when left to our own devices, we're not going to find the stuff we like. At least the lazy people won't. And most people don't want to make it their job to seek this shit out. We need help, and there's nothing wrong with that. If we do evolve into a system where "we just watch what we want when we want it", we're going to miss everything.
There is so much money in the network business right now that, initially, this shift won't mean much. Over time, however, it will. Unprofitable networks will be merged with profitable ones. Unprofitable shows and overpaid talent will be cut. Overpaid managers will get fired. Production costs, on aggregate, will drop. Sets, crews, newsgathering, etc. will be consolidated. The fat will get squeezed out of the system.Oh, you don't want unprofitable shows? Then goodbye television. Cause you won't have anything to watch but The Big Bang Theory and Wheel of Fortune.
Also, the fat has been squeezed, believe me. But as always, a business guy looks at creativity in the dumbest way possible. It's what the Japanese executives at Sony said when they bought Columbia pictures, "(I'm paraphrasing) Your problem is the unprofitable movies, just stop making those". Yeah, it doesn't really work that way.
And you know what? Sometimes there's nothing better than bad TV. Do you really want to say goodbye to that? I don't.
Really, the crux of this article is that TV is changing and we shouldn't have to pay as much as we used to. I agree that TV will change, but if you don't pay as much, you won't get as much in return.
In my opinion, $100 bucks a month for 500 channels of 24 hours of entertainment is a fricking steal. If we all start paying less, they'll have no incentive to make good shows. We've seen this before, in newspapers and music, and the results of this new model have not been good for anybody.
So I maybe a caveman clinging to my old beliefs, but I'm a caveman who has seen every episode of Cheers and Coach in the last 2 months, and I'm pretty happy about it.
I'd love to know what you people do. Where do you get TV from? Do you pay Itunes per show? Wait for stuff to come out on DVD and then stream from Netflix? Go on the network's websites and watch it there? Let me know.
Now if you'll excuse me, Point Break is showing on some movie channel I didn't even know I had, but boy am I'm happy I do.