Monday, June 9, 2008

The Golden Age of Television

Like David Carr, writer of this article, I too miss the days when broadcast made an effort to fill seven nights of programming. And weekend nights included shows that were both written and performed well. So it is sad to see the airwaves filled with extreme fighting and other bad (albeit cheap)programming. It may get a small rating, bit these shows will have no future programming value. Don't look for re airings, syndication, or even dvd box sets. This short term programming strategy offers no long term revenue fruit. The other strategy that seems to be popular, the second airing of a weekday show on Saturday night. With VOD and dvrs, this re airing is a waste of programming time.

So why are the broadcast networks proceeding down this path. Well I believe it is simply about diversification. Each broadcaster has a variety of cable networks behind it to offset broadcast losses with cable gains. And the winners in this strategy are ABC, NBC, and Fox. With NBC, its stable includes USA, Bravo, CNBC, MSNBC, Oxygen and others. For ABC, its ABC Family, Disney, ESPN, and more. And for Fox, its FX, Fox News, and Fox Business, as well as other niche channels. Each niche has successfully taken viewers and revenue from the broadcast side. But it delivers a more highly targeted audience. And so David Carr, if you need something enjoyable to watch on Saturday night, avoid broadcast for the greener pastures of cable.

How does the broadcast side compete? Should they remain programming generalists or define their programming wheel differently. Fox has been most successful with American Idol. While it may not have much replay value, it has allowed its audiences to discover other interesting programming that runs post show. Now if only they can create and air shows for seven nights a week.