Did I say NBC?
Our friend Jason (aka, Oldresorter) noticed something different lurking within the television network machine.
[S]omething I think you’ll find interesting, ABC let the ‘Revenge’ showrunner go, because the show was heading in a direction that fans and critics both disliked.
A network responding to fans? That seems like new news. To Jason’s comment, friend Uplink added support for that idea:
With the industry the way it is now can shows afford to piss off the fans and tell a story that both fans and critics see huge flaws in?
The examples he points to are The Good Wife and Smash, which took the trouble of changing their formula (or at least, story line) ostensibly because of fan reactions.
After that, brother Dave added:
I think its good if we’re seeing more accountability in commercial television. An advantage of the internet and twitter is more immediate feed back on what’s getting made and a better chance for studios to respond to what their customers actually want. I’m not really eager to see show runners loose their jobs, but I am eager to see them be more responsive to their viewers.
Um… Don’t want to burst your bubble here, and I’d like to think that’s correct, that we’re seeing more accountability. But I’ve been seeing evidence that we’re w-wr-wr (it’s stuck in my throat) WRONG! Ack!
The More Things Change
I too thought that the networks were becoming more responsive. Then I saw this:
NEW YORK –
NBC says it’s planning a 12-day-long, around-the-clock competition show to air this fall.
The network said Wednesday that the trivia-based game show, “The Million Second Quiz,” will air live in prime time from a specially built studio in the heart of Manhattan.
Huh? Who ordered this? Show of hands, please. Now, everyone who raised their hands – GET OUT! WE HATE YOU!!!
Oh, wait. When I look around the room or virtually ask anyone, I see this is most definitely not what people (viewers and non- alike) are asking for. Airing a marathon game-show session seems like the last thing a network should do if it wants to have good ratings.
…That might seem like a counter-intuitive move if you are still under the naïve belief television revenue is all about eyeballs. But that is simply not the case anymore.
Again I say, “huh?” There’s something going on, and subsequent discussion in the What Would A Chuck Movie Look Like? thread chronicles our struggles to describe it.
The quote directly above is out of context, but the context only makes my point and adds to my confusion. It goes like this: There is yet another new device, this one called Aereo, that allows users to stream shows directly from the airwaves to their notebooks, tables and ipad-like devices. The networks are fighting this furiously because the over-the-air content (yes, you can still get over-the-air TV, although a digital converter is now needed) is not providing (much) revenue to the networks. ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC recently lost a major court battle concerning it’s legality. From Breitbart.com
After winning a major court battle last week, Aereo has Fox Television so freaked, the network is considering becoming a cable channel, which would mean yanking their broadcast from the public airwaves.
It goes on to say that Fox, in particular, is considering converting to a pay-for cable-only station in order to recoup that revenue lost to Aereo. Now, the above quote in context is:
That might seem like a counter-intuitive move if you are still under the naïve belief television revenue is all about eyeballs. But that is simply not the case anymore. Television networks and those who own them (like News Corp.) make a fortune from cable television. That is the golden goose these days, not ratings.
In other words, John Nolte (the author of the quoted passage) is implying the networks are no longer “selling eyeballs to advertisers.” They’re selling content to cable franchises, and cable franchises are more interested in filling the bandwidth then they are about quality.
Yes, I Said NBC
I am loath to admit it, but Nolte’s idea explains why NBC is now owned by Comcast and why MSNBC is still on your cable line-up. Advertising money is not paying for it. You are, inadvertently, every time you pay your cable bill. You still are paying for MSNBC even if you are one of the hundreds-of-millions who are not watching.
What does this have to do with Chuck? Nothing, directly. Except that it makes it less likely we’ll see another such fan-intensive TV show coming our way soon. It’ll affect the chances of the show becoming a made-for-TV movie, but it’s not clear how.
For now, all these board-room machinations are leaving television a vast waste land (and Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose). NBC seems to have the worst of it, so far.
“’The Voice’ is not only NBC’s biggest non-football hit, it also helps prop up some of the network’s other shows. Ratings for ‘Smash’ and ‘Go On’ have plummeted since they lost their ‘Voice’ lead-in, and ‘Revolution’ took a four-month break to avoid airing without ‘The Voice’ to cushion its place,” Yahoo! TV Editor Dave Nemetz told FOX411’s Pop tarts column. “’The Voice’ is the linchpin that holds NBC’s entire prime-time lineup together.”
But experts and insiders we interviewed told us that prime time is only a fraction of NBC’s problems, and that things have gotten so bad, some at the network are scared for their jobs.
“Many think they’re going to get fired,” a source close to the network FOX411’s Pop Tarts column. “The mood is bad.”
It’s bigger than that, though. The notion that the audience is NOT closer to the decision makers (but even more removed!), if true, may mean that network TV is dying a slow, ignominious death as aging Baby Boomers and older Gen-X’ers (the demographics most addicted to television) pass away, as all generations do. Younger audiences are not watching TV nearly as much. Ultimately, the number of viewers does matter and the network execs are only delaying the inevitable in their attempts to get around that iron law.
“That’s so five seconds ago.”
The kids have their entertainment addictions too; it’s just that a new group of execs in a different industry will be it charge. It’s pretty clear, if NBC and Comcast are examples of what’s coming, the old ones aren’t going to be around long. If shows like Chuck are going to survive this they will – they must – evolve into something presented more directly to the target audience and at lower cost on-line, surreptitiously providing quality under the radar, as they always have. The ones who count, the kids, will be watching (on their smart phones, of course).
That is, they will until their children and grandchildren come along and tell them to get with it and have their entertainment injected directly into their brain…
In the mean time, I’ll be doing my best to keep up with the technology just in case they come up with something worth watching.