Friday, March 30, 2012
The Internet vs Television The War Wages On
In the last month CNN has lost close to 50% of their viewership, that is a lot to lose in a month, unheard of almost. CNN is not alone in this loss of ratings for there are many shows out there struggling to keep people interested in what they have to say and what they are doing. This accounts for the radical growth of reality TV shows and their absurdity, due to the decreasing amount of viewership networks have begun to adopt the philosophy that the more absurd or shocking a show the better, and thus we get some of the more absurd reality TV shows out there. This is not a new trend but it is one that has finally hit most channels, except Fox News (Bill O still has a following), and will continue to happen more and more often, which begs the question, what is the future of television going to look like and can anyone beat the Internet?
The first thing we need to realize before we progress further is that this whole decrease of viewership has started to occur due to two things, news channels being bias, doing blackouts of articles and such, and the increase of news sites like "The Huffington Post" which basically do everything that CNN does for free and in almost every way they do it better. The overall concept here is not that its free but that they are offering better content for less, so who wants to go and pay for something inferior when they can get something better for free online? What really needs to happen here is that networks that are losing their ratings need to learn from these sites and one up them, paid services should always be way above their free counterparts, that is the only way to stay in business. If CNN does not step up their game big time then the future of their network will continually look more and more grim.
There are a few networks that are stepping up their game though, Cartoon Network, MTV, AMC, ESPN and some others have begun to think of new ways to stay relevant in this ever changing world and for the most part have succeed. Cartoon Network has even decided to bring about a new segment called "Cartoon Planet" where all those shows we used to love as children are now coming back, like "Powerpuff Girls", "Dexter's Lab", "Johnny Bravo" and so on, and it'll be hosted by Brak and Zorak from "Space Ghost: Coast to Coast", if this is not a brilliant idea the we don't know what is. MTV has stepped up their game big time with shows like "Have You Seen My Pants?" which is basically a combination of "How I Met Your Mother" and "Friends" and its a brilliant show, this show and the bringing back of "Bevis and Butthead" was MTV's way of staying in the game, if they want to spike their rating even more they should consider going really old school and bringing back some music video segments, that would blow the world's mind for sure.
How could we talk about relevant television and not talk about ESPN? Shows like "Sports Center" have taken everyone by surprise in their continued evolution and good content. ESPN knew what they were going to be facing in this new world and they stepped up their game big time in order to compete with it. In every show we have a group of people disagreeing with one another, so no "one" opinion on everything, we get small segmented stories that tell us just what we want to hear instead of spending 10 minutes per story, they host hosts that are fun to watch and that you respect, usually retired professional athletes, which is brilliant for they already have a fan base thus increasing your own fan base in your network.
ESPN is the E! of sports, it is entertaining even for those that are not really into sports at all, there are top 10 best and worst moments which everyone loves, there is good commentary and for the most part you stay in the loop. It isn't hard when you look at the big picture seeing how ESPN has stood far beyond their competition, they are constantly evolving adding channels like ESPN 3 which is free in your Xbox 360 or your computer, and ESPN U where we get a ton of University games going on, ESPN has so many channels and all of them follow the pattern of growth every year. This is what the other networks should be doing as well, this is the example that is being set that shows us where television is headed.
If you are a fan of television but don't want to spend a lot you would get ESPN and maybe ESPN 2, if you want to spend a little more you get ESPN U and some of their other services. If you have an Xbox or PS3 or comp and want to watch the game somewhere else you can do that, if you want to watch in your phone or Ipad you can do that, and so on. This is what we're talking about, this is evolution, giving the public the content they want when they want it in the medium of their choosing, this is why ESPN will not die anytime soon.
So to answer the question in the beginning of this post, ESPN's example is what the future looks like, this is the system that will beat the Internet. As long as networks keep everything simple the public will continue to watch them. We've talked about this before but it merits mentioning again, cable companies should step up their game as well in allowing us to choose specific channels we want instead of having 1000 channels to choose from. We would rather pay for the 30-50 that we actually watch, in truth it's more like 5-10 channels that we actually watch, than to have to scroll through tons of channels in order to find what want to watch (which 9/10 times resides within those 5-10 channels). The age of having a thousand channels has come and gone, the age of cable is dying, there needs to be an evolution in the market or cable will not survive in the years to come.
The Internet is an ever changing thing, if you are not growing and being a step ahead of it then you will be left behind, eventually becoming obsolete. The time of the Internet will forever be upon us now, there is no going back, so please networks step up your games and keep up, follow ESPN's example and stay in the game, if they can do it so can you.
We hope your week was fantastic and pray that you all will have a safe weekend,
Love from your humble blogger,