By May 24, 2013

TV Is Changing at Warp Speed

cool sofa In an increasingly media saturated culture, you might assume the number of households with televisions would be on the rise. But according to the folks at Nielsen, TV households dropped from 115.9 million during the 2010-2011 season to 114.7 million the following year. At first glance, it seems that people are simply watching less television, but perhaps the state of TV is actually changing.

There are a number of factors at play here, from the diminishing impact of network channels, to the new formats available to TV consumers. Basic cable and satellite packages run consumers about $30 a month, as noted on, while a streaming option like Netflix offers a range of TV and film content for $8 per month. As with the smartphone revolution that preceded it, it appears that the way we view and pay for TV is changing quickly.

Viewing Content Anew

Nielsen ratings once had the power to make or break a television show, but several media analysts, like Russell C. Smith, argue that Web culture has more relevancy than traditional ratings. Writing for the Huffington Post, Smith claims the success of a show like NBC’s “Community” proves today’s viewers aren’t all watching at home on their sets. Instead, fans create digital “tribes” around their favorite programs and view them via Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and on-demand cable, creating a huge viewership that traditional Nielsen ratings simply cannot capture. So while the ratings for “Community” were mediocre, the show survived thanks to a populist showing of support.

The Big Four’s Decline

Nielsen recently announced plans to create digital content ratings systems, but it may be too late to shore up ratings for the Big Four. As reported recently on NPR, NBC’s ratings have plummeted since the heady days of “Friends,” “ER” and “Seinfeld.” CBS, Fox, and ABC are also suffering at the hands of both cable and wireless options. Tim Goodman, writing for the Hollywood Reporter, suggests that network television needs a major leader, “their own version of Steve Jobs” to radically reverse the downward spiral. In addition, the major networks continue to rely on outdated ideas, despite the growing evidence that Americans are hungry for innovative content and formats for their entertainment needs.

Contemporary Formats

On the opposite side of the entertainment spectrum, innovative companies like Netflix, AWKNG TV, Aereo and Dish Network are meeting the needs of viewers dissatisfied with cable’s traditional format. Netflix has slowly grown over the years from a small DVD-by-mail company to a bona fide creator of original programming. Its successful 2013 debut of the instantly popular series “House of Cards” shows that Netflix is poised to create quality programming targeted specifically to its growing customer base. Meanwhile, the format mavens at Aereo are offering viewers the chance to watch live broadcast TV from networks on their mobile devices for a fraction of the price. Similarly, Dish Network already offers users the chance to watch shows on their laptops or mobile devices and is in talks to collaborate with Sprint on future wireless entertainment projects.

TV A La Carte

Finally, changes afoot in TV town may be getting a boost from Capitol Hill. Sen. John McCain, R-AZ has proposed a new bill to discourage TV providers from “bundling” their services and stop the use of “blackouts” for NFL games. The move is likely to spur TV lobbyists into action, but whether the legislation passes or not, it seems that the innovators of today’s TV landscape are already making moves to permanently change the way we watch.

Posted by: Matt

Posted in: TV & Home Cinema

About the Author:

More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.
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