The Old and the New television

Soon enough the big networks will go the way of the dodo if they don’t play well with the new Internet reality. The networks have become difficult to deal with and they piss off viewers easily (especially FOX). Latest proof is the cancellation of Jericho, which was steadily holding second place in the ratings every Wednesday. It’s like they want all shows to be removed if they don’t win No1 position, it’s crazy!

Only ABC tries to do something useful with the internet and so this week they announced that they will offer for free viewing all of their shows in 720p HD format via the web browser. FOX also does something similar.

But the real threat will come for the traditional networks from the TV shows broadcasting exclusively on the Internet(s). The first professional work of that kind is the “Sanctuary“. Check their trailer, it’s pretty impressive. It even features 2 actors from Stargate SG1/Atlantis. Sure, the show looks more like cut scenes from a video game, but it’s a start!


Phil wrote on May 18th, 2007 at 8:29 AM PST:

>The former don’t have to worry about appealing to an as large an audience as possible

That’s not quite true for the BBC at least. Basically they have to justify the compulsory licence fee. If too few people watch there will be calls to scrap it, so the BBC do produce more than their fair share of second rate populist rubbish just to make sure there’s no chance of losing the TV licence fee.

Thom Holwerda wrote on May 18th, 2007 at 12:01 PM PST:

Commercial television requires rating-centric programming. Commercial television is not about quality, it’s about quantity; you need as many people as possible watching your shit, because that will increase income from commercials.

There’s a reason state-sponsored television networks such as the BBC and the Dutch public broadcasters produce higher-quality television than commercial stations. The former don’t have to worry about appealing to an as large an audience as possible. That’s why you can see, on the three non-commercial Dutch stations, shows and programs that target a very specific niche; i.e. a humanism network, muslim TV shows, or a documentary about a painter nobody has ever heard of. sure, these programs won;t reach a bigger audience than a few thousand people, but at least these people are served.

In The Netherlands, we have the best of both worlds: we have about 7-8 commercial TV stations, which please most of the general audience here. On to of tat, we have three “public”, tax-funded stations where small, independent networks and studios get the time to showcase stuff that is of high quality, but just less appealing to big audiences.

I have always found that a show like Dead Like Me should have been made by the BBC or something similar; there, it would have gotten the time and attention is deserved.

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Eugenia wrote on May 18th, 2007 at 12:13 PM PST:

>you need as many people as possible watching your shit

This is true, but in Jericho’s case, it had about 9 million viewers. That’s a lot of viewers (plus it’s already a cult show), and I think it’s one of the very few times that a show got canceled with that many viewers. Usually, the cutting bar is at around 7 or 8 mil.

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