A while ago, I advised my parents to drop their cable T.V. service in order to save money as almost every service television provides can be gained from other source for less if not free.
Recently, they took a small step to taking my advise and dropped the expanded cable from their plan.
Basically, the point I’m trying to make is that, after many years, I’m starting to pay attention to T.V. again.
I’ve said in the past that the services rendered by the internet make television obsolete. But, now that I’ve seen what T.V. is offering again, I’m convinced that I’d still be finding other pastimes just because there is so much wrong with the way T.V. stations work that are unbearable on their own, but made even worse by the alternatives given to us by services like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube.
Design by Committee
The problem with putting your show idea in the hands of a network is that you’re now obligated to do whatever they ask and make your show what THEY want if you want to keep seeing that paycheck in the mail. You’ve lost custody of your brainchild.
As a result, your show is now in the hands of stuffy number crunchers that only understand meaningless ratings and non-existent demographics. Each of them use a similar formula to maximize viewership and demand that a show be retooled to fit those perimeters, meaning that most shows play out similarly.
While this would make for boring T.V. on its own, it’s made worse by services like YouTube and Blip that have little to no involvement in the content of the videos produced (with the exception of explicit material, of course) and just give producers free reign. This provides a greater variety of content. You would never see something like the educational entertainment of SciShow or the witty parody of Dragonball Z: Abridged on cable.
NetFlix and Hulu are still somewhat limited in this regard as they’re pressured to host quality content. That said they still have an edge over T.V. because…
Network Executives Suck at Scheduling
The presence of network schedules have always hurt television. People just don’t have the time or the ability to bend their lives around the screen.
This is further compounded by the fact that a good show can ‘fail’ in the eyes of networks despite praise from fans just because of poor scheduling.
For example, you know all of those superhero cartoons that seem to disappear after a season or two despite being really good? Well, half the reason for that is because they were scheduled for a time ideal for children while the grown-ups are at work despite superhero stories being really popular with an older audience and deserving a more family friendly slot.
This isn’t an issue for streaming video services that offer their programs when YOU want them and don’t force you to bend to their whims for the sake of escapist entertainment.
Oh, and speaking of shows that are canceled…
The Dreaded Tax Write-off
Here’s something I’m willing to bet a lot of you didn’t know about. Hell, I didn’t hear about it until last Sunday.
As it turns out, if a series tanks hard as a result of incompetence (the network’s or the producer’s), the network can save their own asses by getting a tax write-off. The trade off being they can never air the series again.
In short, those shows you loved that they don’t show anymore – Megas XLR, Sym-bionic Titan, Firefly and the like? Yeah, you’re NEVER going to see a return of those shows. It doesn’t matter how many petitions you sign; they’re gone… FOREVER.
Of course, there’s always the off chance that another channel could pick it up. But, in most cases, the station they were on was the one best suited to the kind of material that show featured.
Again, streaming services like YouTube, Bilp, and others offer an alternative. Since everything is producer controlled, a rough patch that puts the show on hiatus doesn’t spell the death of the show as a whole. Though, ditching the show for any length of time runs the risk of some viewers jumping ship and forgetting about you anyway.
In closing, we need to cut out the middle man and give producers control of their properties via streaming services. That way, good entertainment has the optimal chance to succeed without network executives doing what they do best – finding something simple and complicating it.