Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Is Live TV the Answer? To Be Continued...

How can traditional TV survive in the era of DVR, On-Demand, and Netflix?

The answer may lie in TV's roots, as a source of convenient and timely home entertainment. In a story today on Quartz, writer Jason Lynch suggested five ways that TV can "save itself in 2014." The ideas ranged from abandoning dying genres like talent competitions, to developing more "limited series" like last year's The Bible and the upcoming 24: Live Another Day. His solutions, however, that I found the most compelling were based on the foundations of television:
  • Live TV: Instead of relying on taped programs that people can easily record and watch later, Lynch suggested that networks need to increase their live programming -- something that was the hallmark of the "Golden Age of Television." He pointed to the recent live production of The Sound of Music with Carrie Underwood that attracted 18.6 million viewers to NBC. (In case you were wondering, the movie is still far better). 
  • To Be Continued: Netflix appeals to millions of people, in part, because they are able to view entire seasons in one sitting. Lynch said networks need to adapt this new habit of "binge-viewing" and acquire the rights to air multiple episodes back to back.
For sure, these ideas would help TV appeal to today's viewers. But they are not enough. At the core of TV's decline is the rise of online video. It's not DVR and Netflix that's making TV less appealing; it's the web. It doesn't matter whether you're using a highly publicized platform like or a Bit Torrent site with pirated shows, at the end of the day you're not watching TV.

Unfortunately, the future of TV will be the same as the history of American manufacturing: without government regulation, people will always choose the cheapest way to get what they want. So should the government make the survival of TV a priority? Should TV be saved? I guess you'll have to stay tuned to find out.

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