a world without must-see-TV
November 05, 2007
The Writers Guild of America is on strike.
Beginning tonight, there will be no new talk shows - and no new late night programming (mostly talk shows). There will soon be no new daytime TV. In a few months sitcoms and other pre-written scripted television programs will go into "survival mode", delaying the last remaining episodes for sweeps.
Of course this could all be over if both parties can reach an acceptable agreement.
But in the meantime, let's consider a short-term future without scripted television programming. Below are my thoughts on this episode.
- This was a long time coming. Digital media will continue to change the distribution and monetization strategies of content.
- This will happen again in other channels and in other industries. This was the first industry hit. More will follow. New dynamics and new business models are needed. Transition is never smooth.
- BitTorrent and other P2P file sharing networks will see a spike. With no new programming, viewers will download entire seasons of old favorites.
- Video gaming and other new media channel usage will grow. Without fresh traditional television content, hours will open up in homes across the country. This is a great time to be in digital media.
- Hulu's nostalgia focussed programming may become their biggest hit. With nothing left to watch, I could see myself revisiting old favorites.
- The recent launched Daily Show website will take a hit. There is no reason to catch up on yesterday's episode when you've missed it... because there's nothing new to catch up on.
- Unscripted/Reality TV may grow. While this may be unfortunate for viewers, network will make more money running Reality than running re-runs.
- US networks should begin licensing content English language content from overseas. Britain has some amazing programming that has not yet made it big stateside. Forget American Idol, let's bring over some of that outstanding BBC programming. This is a trend I wouldn't mind seeing come to fruition.
- It's a good thing Steven Colbert didn't make the Democratic Ticket. THAT would have been a good $2,500 down the drain.
- There is a WIDE OPEN DOOR for emerging writers. So aspiring writers: write you're own content, post it online and watch it grow. Television viewers will soon have nothing left to watch. This is you're golden opportunity!
- It may take a while for network television to regain their audience. Baseball and basketball didn't bounce back from their strikes too quickly. Without fresh TV programing to keep us occupied, audience behaviors will shift towards new media consumption faster than ever before. These changes were inevitable, the strike is only accelerating the shift. It's cost far more to gain a new customer than to retain an existing one. It will take some time for networks to bounce back.
While this strike may be over by the end of the day, the possibility of months without fresh scripted television programming is certainly an interesting study. What do YOU believe would happen in a world without fresh scripted media?
Update: just found this article over at the NY Times. Nice to know that there are others out there sharing my point of view.