Thursday, June 5, 2008

Internet Killed the Television Star

A lengthy diatribe by one Frazier Moore of the AP discussed how the 2007-08 TV season was a total bust - so much so that many of the networks are crying for a "do-over."

As Moore noted, the writers' strike certainly took its toll, and a looming actors' strike could do even worse, but the real reason he thinks TV is failing is all of the media outlets, accessibility, and options.

I disagree: the reason network television is failing is because they ignore the fans!

But, as I noted before, the Web is taking its toll on network TV, but it's still the TV executives' fault! Had they embraced the digital medium like they should have to begin with, we would have fully-interactive content right now.

Imagine watching TV and stopping the picture on an actor you recognize, but cannot place. You press a button, choose the actor, and hit your INFO for the actor's IMdB profile! Like the clothes he's wearing? Scroll through the articles of clothing until you get to the item you want, click your INFO, and here's the designer, the brand, the material - and you can even click-through to make a purchase!

It doesn't stop there:

You can order just about any TV show episode or movie at any time through On-Demand features. Purchase browsing libraries from such categories as "Classic Sit-Coms," "Dramedies," and "Chick Flicks." You pay $4.99/mo. and watch any of the programs available anytime you want, throughout the month. Free libraries are sponsored by advertisers and firms in various ways - traditional American advertising, advertising between shows, logo/banner advertising - and are available to all subscribers. Still, you can always use your remote to pick and choose various on-screen elements to learn more about them, purchase them, add notes, and more.

But wait! We're not done! Had advertising executives acted then, we would be enjoying fully-interactive television programming today - interactive programming like:
  • Help Monk solve the crime. The show changes according to your choices, so you can watch the same program again and again with different outcomes!
  • Vote for your favorite American Idol then and there, instead of having to wait and use the phone and have them still fuck it up!
  • Play games through your TV (DirecTV now has this on Channel 110 - and several dozen others throughout the dial). Further, chat with other, real-time players while you game!
  • Create your own content! Girls can dress-up Samantha, Charlotte, and those other chicks in outfits they put together from the latest fashion "catalogues." Save their combinations, order outfits right then and there, and more! Boys can play WoW.
But no, ad execs were afraid of losing revenue and didn't want to take a chance. And - again - they did not bother to listen to their audience, which is the real failing of the film industry as a whole and always has been; these guys are stuck in The Early Days, when their kind literally created the industry from the ground-up. They manufactured the stars, they fabricated the gossip, they fashioned the vehicles - each star was handcrafted and dutifully stage-managed down a specific career path. These guys are absolute control freaks who steadfastly refuse to get involved in anything they cannot completely subjugate and control.

And we all suffer.

And that's why TV is failing and will continue to fail. We want the control - we want to watch what we want when it's convenient for us and if we enjoy it, we want to see more of it! TV execs want to schedule and retool and axe and have their hand in literally everything because they have no idea what is going on around them. According to their view of the world, creative-types are to be suffered and audiences don't know what we really want. But they are just too damn proud to admit they have no idea what they are doing, what we creative types are up to, or what any of us really want.

Think I'm being conspiratorial and dismissive? Then consider this direct quote from 37-year old TV executive "wunderkind," Ben Silverman, speaking to advertisers:

"We know you need to activate against our entertainment platforms to help build your brand messages, and to leverage and use the cultural institutions that are hallmarks of the NBC network."

I think that says it all.

© C Harris Lynn, 2008

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