Mourning TV.

A fine article by Damon Lindelof, one of the creators of Lost, about how television, as we know it, is dying.

Television has always been free. Sure, if you want all the N.F.L. games in high definition, you have to pay the piper, but the broadcast networks still offer their entire schedules for absolutely nothing. The only catch, of course, is that you have to watch commercials. Economically, it’s a fair deal. The network pays for the shows, gives them to viewers, and makes its cash back through advertising. Which regrettably brings us to the most wonderful thing TiVo does: It enables you to ignore the commercials that keep the whole system running.

Let’s look at the facts:

1. Broadcast television is paid for by commercials.
2. DVRs and downloaded content from the internet let you bypass these commercials.
3. It ain’t working no more.

This can’t last. The whole framework of broadcast television is spiraling down the shit pot. Something new will take its place, and nobody knows what that might be.

My most fervent dream is that we extract from these catastrophes the ability to buy only the channels/shows we want to watch. I have about 300 channels available to me because of all the dumbass “tiers” I have to buy, and I have watched only a tiny fraction of them.

It’s like going to a bookstore to buy a science fiction book and they tell you, “Sorry sir, to get that book you’ll have to buy the Science Fiction section, and that’s those hundred books over there.”

The way I quote myself works is not entirely understood.

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4 Responses to Mourning TV.

  1. TMac says:

    For that to work the whole thing has to shift mediums. TV costs too much money to produce. If you went to selecting only what you wanted the choices would dry up. The networks would only focus on things that made money instead of offering a large variety of channels. Think 3 CSIs or nonstop Yankee coverage on ESPN is bad now. Watch what would happen if ratings (which only indirectly pays a channel) become a PPV type set up. It would all CSI all the time.

    I agree with you, TV is dying as we now. I also agree that I hate have 300+ channels but only using 25 of them.

  2. TMac says:

    That is TV is dying as we know it. :)

  3. Jason says:

    Then how do independent movies ever get made? I agree that TV costs more to produce than, say, a book. But there’s a difference between a low-budget, modestly successful movie that brings in $40-$50 million and a $300 million blockbuster. Both are still made today. And movies are, essentially, “pay-per-view,” just like Chuck wants TV to be.

    None of us know the exact economics of TV production, but I would think there would still be space for non-Yankees, non-CSI material on TV. The people who make it will just have to be willing to count their money with only six zeroes behind it instead of nine. If certain moviemakers are willing to do that, why wouldn’t certain TV execs? There are already 11 billion CSI shows and too much Yankees coverage on TV. That’s why I don’t want network TV except very occasionally (and for sports).

  4. Bpaul says:

    I would get cable if i could pick exactly what channels I got and not get some stupid “package” with 300 channels of crap and 3-4 I’d watch.

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