Television is destroying itself

I know. People have been saying this since the boob tube first lit up in black and white. And despite all the efforts of the channels, the advertisers, and the producers, television has grown from the three big channels into an array of hundreds.

However, this time, I think they may succeed. Have patience and listen to my thinking.

The reason that television didn’t destroy itself in the 50’s through 90’s was simple. Free entertainment, no matter how bad, will continue to have an audience. Television killed the radio drama, its major competition. That left only reading as an alternative, and frankly the changes in the publishing industry show that industry is even more out of touch with the consumer.

Today that has changed. With the Internet, Netflix, and YouTube, the consumer (viewer) can watch what he wants, when he wants by clicking a few buttons on the computer. Or pad, or phone. Technological advances have changed the way video consumption occurs.

Don’t believe me? Do you believe Nielsen, the television rating people? They have been in the business since 1950. They say “In percentage terms, traditional TV viewing among 18-24-year-olds in Q2 2014 was down by 11.7% year-over-year. Between Q2 2011 and Q2 2014, weekly viewing fell by 21.7%, a sizable figure.”

If Americans bought 21.7% fewer cars than three years ago, it would be plastered on every newspaper in the country.

Now why the change? We there are more alternatives. Video games have grown into a major player. (Sorry about that pun.) They took in about $9.5 billion in the US in 2007, 11.7 billion in 2008, and 25.1 billion in. (I don’t have figures for the last four years, but the trend continues.) Then there’s view on demand from the internet of movies and television shows.

However, my gripe is with the television industry. If they want people to watch movies and shows on the boob tube, you would think they would make it easy for us to find what we wanted. I think they are doing the opposite.

Two years ago, I had a web page I could turn to. It showed what was on television. All the stations by station number for the cable on one scroll down list. If I clicked on a particular station, I could see a listing of the scheduled shows for the next two weeks. Simple, easy to use, and useful.

It’s gone. The web page is still there, but they changed it so I can only see 13 channels at a time, I can’t search for shows, and it doesn’t list the channels by the station number on my cable. I am now forced to use a paper TV listing that comes with the newspaper to find out what’s on.

I’m not the only one frustrated. In a recent humorous sketch I saw, the people were playing a version of ‘Battleships’, searching for the telecast of a hockey game on the myriad of ‘sports’ channels.

If I can’t find the show on broadcast television, I will search for direct viewing on the internet. Television is losing me, and I’m the demographic who still watches it, for the present.

To see some of my short stories go to www.edwardmcdermott.net