Timothy M. Denton

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Psycho-neurasthenic - too much TV

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The title is a reference to an early Frank Zappa tune, which only Mike Hennessy and I will recall, through a haze, darkly. Why, when the underlying broadcast advertizer-supported model is in such deep trouble, has there so much scripted television been produced? Why, when the opera houses are shutting down, according to the broadcasting industry, do so many operas keep being written? This is contrary to reason, if the premises are true.

Entertainment reports that:

If you feel like there’s an overwhelming number of TV series options, there’s a very good reason for that. 

FX has calculated that in 2015 networks and streaming services had a record 409 dramas, comedies and limited series — and that’s not even including unscripted shows or TV movies. Digging into the data, the number of scripted series this year was up 9 percent over 2014, and has doubled since 2009 — while network ratings have, on average, declined.  

“The unprecedented increase in the number of scripted series has reached a new milestone in 2015 with a record 409, nearly doubling the total in just the past six years,” said Julie Piepenkotter, executive vice president of research for FX Networks. “This was the third consecutive year that scripted series count has grown across each distribution platform – broadcast, basic and pay cable, streaming — led by significant gains in basic cable and digital services. This statistic is staggering and almost unimaginable from where they were a decade ago.”...

The problem is that as the number of shows increase, the typical audience size for each show declines. This is also an issue because audience expectations continue to rise too, as lavishly produced shows like HBO’s Game of Thrones raise the bar for the industry. At a certain point, it will theoretically be impossible for networks to keep making higher and higher quality shows for an audience that’s increasingly divided.

Audience...fragmentation... too much TV. (To the Zappa tune: psycho-neurasthenic...too much TV)

I am not an industry analyst, I do not understand much of anything, but I think I see an internet out there. Is it possible that more television is financeable because more revenue is available directly from users? People who actually know the answer are invited to get in touch and tell me why, when the business model is supposedly crashing, more artists are pouring time and talent into scripts and production. Someone is financing this, and people with money are usually smart about investments. My question is serious. Someone must know the answer.

 

 

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Timothy Denton is a lawyer by training who practices principally in telecommunications and Internet policy and domain name issues, with a strong concentration on explaining what the technology is and what it means.

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Guest Sunday, 25 August 2019
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