Here's an important topic for a TV blog. Is television dying? Is it already dead? Since the end of the writer's strike, there has been a tsunami of negative press for broadcast television, all predicting its eminent demise. There's no doubt about it, the ratings are down for the big three (ABC, NBC, CBS). Only FOX has survived the viewer flight, due almost entirely to the strength of American Idol.
Many of the viewers who fled to other forms of media during the writer's strike are not coming back to traditional television. Ever. Here's why I, lover of TV since I was lulled to sleep by my first black and white Indian Head test pattern, think that might not necessarily be the end of the world.
- While viewers might not be watching TV as much on the traditional home set, they are flocking to streaming video of their favorite TV shows online
- Boxed set DVD sales of entire seasons of TV programs are flying off the shelves. Did you know that more DVD's are sold of TV programs than of all movies combined today?
- Time shifting behaviors (TiVo, DVR) have become mainstream. People are still watching, they are just doing it when it suits them. Today, appointment television means you have to put permanent hold on your digitally recorded episode so it does not get erased before you are ready to view.
It's all about the content folks. Great writing, compelling characters, and nobody is going anywhere. But the audience is a fickle beast. Tonight we watched the brilliance of NBC's "The Office" on regular TV. Tomorrow it might be streaming on the Internet. Or our mobile phones. Note to Marshall McLuhan.....the medium is no longer the message. It's just the pipeline. We never know what's going to come down the chute these days. Tonight, it was a flawless one hour comedy on the family living room TV set.
And by the way...NBC totally understands the online world. You can watch this Office season finale on their website if you missed it last night. And you can watch the promo for it, right here on The Flaming Nose, compliments of You Tube.