Sunday, June 1, 2014
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NCIS remains the top watched television drama in the world. But how long can that show go on? Will NCIS LA continue, and will NCIS New Orleans have a leg to stand on? How long can networks survive on "franchises" instead of great new shows.
Part of the problem may be the networks themselves.
They do not give shows a chance.
Had they been launched today "Cheers", "Friends", "M*A*S*H" and other long running hits would never have made it out of the gate or past one season. "24" was cancelled when it had numbers that would put it in the top ten of today';s non-sports programming.
Pilot season is ending and shorter four to 12 episode "series" are the new trend, not allowing shows to build the legs it takes to build and audience. It is there at the start and remains for a few weeks, or it does not count.
The premium cable and British models for television programs and runs are both being adapted by broadcast TV. Only we do not have near monopolies like England and cable has the advantage of you having to pay for the programs and therefore more likley to watch them. Also in both England (where there remains a set tax) and with cable there are revenue legs for program that go far beyond the advertising dollars. Advertising is ratings driven. Less so Brittish TV and pay-cable.
Rating, that were once 12 to death, are now routeenly reported in 18 to 49 and even 18-34 brackets, since advertisers want to hit the growing generation, who are starting families, dating, or in general spending instead of sizing down. It you are over 49 you do not exist for broadcast networks. And that may have resulted in tryng to please those rated generations with what consultants say they want...
Meanwhile under 50, much less under 35, are already most likely to not be watching as they play video games, use the Internet, time shift, work two jobs and so on. The growth of Internet and gaming is over 50, but no one reports on that because they assume the money lies in younger "viewers".
Ownership changes, fast changes in executive positions, the replacement of people who come from production by "bean counters" or MBA's, horizontal and vertical integration, the ownership of the raw materials all the way to how we consume them by the same company, is now a reality, where a decade or two ago it would have been called a monopoly are happening at geometrically progressive rate. In short those who make decisions may or not be in power long enough to have a long term effect or may be scapegoats with their projects sacrificed at the alter of media blame and the bottom line.
But is this a Golden Age of Television.
The media says so.
Major Hollywood producers, directors, actors and entire crews and creative staff are migrating toward television, as the film world migrates overseas and sees a rise in risky projects being cancelled or breaking entire careers.
They are moving where the money is. They are moving where they have some creative say. They are moving to non-traditional programming where you may not need a climax before commercials every ten to fourteen minutes. Hollywood film folks are remaking television.
Drama is booming, sit coms may not be stellar but they are there in large numbers, and, and I cringe, Reality TV is still going strong with star level support.
But how does this really compare to the NBC dominated 80's, the Stephen J Cannell's of the 1960's and 70's, the Golden Age with Sid Caesar, Groucho Marx and a long line of great talent in the early days...the traditional Golden Age of Television?
The younger you are, the more likey you will buy into the media calling today a Golden Age.
Look at the ownership.
Follow the money.
We are in a transition in television, in all media, and in how we live our lives. This is the age of rapid change, which may or may not be golden.
Robotics, recessions, the quality of our "bread and circuses", the education and moral values we represent in our entertainment and information vehicles all will play their roles, along with media consolidation, cross-ownership, media integration, net neutrality (or not),
If you were wondering this cross pollination and integrated nature of the industry and the world is why SAGACTOR on Facebook and SAGCTORonline.com cover media and a wide range of topics beyond acting...
The more you know.
The more you learn.
The more you put it to use.
The greater the chance you will be a part of creating a Golden Age...if we are in one or entering one.
And the better you will be as a consumer, as talent looking for work, and in keeping on top of the world you live in work in, or you love following and keeping on top of.
So are we in a new Golden Age of Television or a transition where reality TV and fast cancellations confuse and alienate potential audiences?
Post your views in comments or send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.