Specifically, the networks are starting to pull their heads out of the sand. Here’s the link.
The TLDR here is, now that they’re actually tracking real numbers and not artificially limiting them to only the ones that tell the story they want to hear, they’re seeing cord cutting and people abandoning the traditional way of receiving video content is a real thing. And not a small thing either; it’s adding up to a significant movement that’s causing downward movement of their numbers.
It apparently has to keep being said, because folks still have sand surrounding their noggins. You have to look at real data, a whole look rather than picking out just the part you like, if you want to make real decisions. To make decisions that have a chance at being accurate.
Where TV goes from here is pretty obvious to me; streaming, VOD, and I figure DVD will probably hang on for a while. TV producers should be shifting to making deals directly with streaming services, or striking out on their own and connecting directly with consumers via the Internet. I know Amazon and Google both have cloud services that will be happy to help you set up a VOD site. Where does that leave networks?
Honestly, I don’t care. They cancel great shows all the time, so it’s hard to construct an argument where I feel bad for them. They cancel shows that have fanbases, or that don’t have the broad fanbase they want on their networks, or even just because the fanbase a show has doesn’t suit what they want. Longmire was a good example of this; it wasn’t canceled because its ratings were bad, but because its ratings demographics were too old. The network wanted young viewers, not 45+ ones, and they canned a show that was pulling several million pairs of eyeballs per week just because the eyeballs weren’t attached to young bodies.
So I really don’t care if the networks vanish. Netflix is proving we don’t need them in the mix to produce entertaining content. Further, my understanding of the industry is a lot of video content is funded by external investors anyway. Meaning, it’s not a studio writing a check to pay for a movie or show, but ‘normal’ money people who get pitched and decide they can back this or that, and provide money to that end. So even the funding issue is less relevant than it used to be. What’s stopping the producers, who assemble the creative side, from teaming up with the independent investors, who supply the funding, and going direct or into streaming? Why launch a hit show onto a network when it can be launched directly into the net?
Let’s bring it back though. The important thing here is they’re not ignoring what’s actually happening. That gives everyone involved a chance to recognize and adapt before it becomes history, before it’s too late and the trends have already solidified. I’m rooting for the networks to get shuffled out, but nothing says they might not figure out a way to stay relevant. I’m not sure what it might be in the face of Netflix and its data driven decisions, but it could happen.
The winners are us, the entertainment consumers. Netflix is leading the charge in deciding based on its viewership. They look at what people actually watch, and the company goes after new content based on that data. Not on what they want to push, or on what they want to succeed; they choose based on what has already worked. They’ve greenlit continuations of series because they see their customers watch the existing seasons. They greenlight new originals because they see similarities and parallels with existing content. They keep their heads above ground level, eyes open, and carefully decide.
That’s how the decisions should be made. Less Hollywood nudge-nudge-wink-wink, back scratching, and “you owe me a favor so put this on the air” crap; and more “this is what people are watching.”
There’s nothing wrong, and a lot right, with making content decisions based on what people want to watch. Even when it comes out with shows I can’t stand, that doesn’t change that a lot of other people do want them. It’s democracy, a pure form, in action.
I’d much rather bemoan the poor taste of my fellows than join them in railing (unheard) against mahogany desk seated executives who have nothing in common with us.