The networks started off their annual “new show blitz” this past week, and we’ve seen the best and the brightest the four major TV networks have to offer. And the initial response from America was one giant yawn.
America is not watching TV like they used to!
Every single major drama show this past week was down, most in double digits over last year. In fact, the only show to debut higher this year than last was ABC’s “Fresh Off The Boat”, which was 2/10 of a rating point higher this year. Every other show was down. The only show that looked halfway decent in its opening week were….wait for it….wait for it….The Muppets!
Overall, “premiere week” was down 8% over a year ago. What’s most disturbing to the networks is that the highly sought after 18-24 demographic was off 20% from last year’s premiere week. Male viewership in that demo was off 24%.
OK…it’s too early to write network television’s obituary but we’re getting close. I remember back in the day selling radio advertising in Toledo, Ohio, telling my clients who were clinging to the old daily newspaper that they were hanging on to a dinosaur that not only was on life support, the life support had just been unplugged. Few believed me. But today, that paper hemorrhages money, and hasn’t made a profit in years. Same thing is happening now with television, and they can thank Netflix and Amazon Prime, and Hulu for that.
People are no longer in to “must see TV”. We’re more into, “I’ll watch it when I get to it”. I know that’s the way it is in my household. Oh, we watch the shows, but I’d be hard pressed to name the last time we actually watched a show live. At the very least, we’ll DVR the program, and if it’s an hour show, we’ll start watching it at say, 8:20, so we can fast-forward through all of the commercials. We can watch an hour show in 40 minutes. That’s a good use of time!
With Netflix, Prime, and Hulu Plus, I don’t even need to have satellite TV anymore. The 18-24 generation is all but cutting the cord. They don’t want to pay the high prices cable companies, DirecTV, and DISH charge to subscribe, when they can get Hulu Plus or Netflix for under $9 a month each. And they can watch whatever they want, pretty much whenever they want. And if they want to binge-watch a show, they can do that too. Easy peasy.
Our world is changing. I would be very surprised if TV as we know it were still around in another ten years. Oh, it may take a little longer than that, but it’s certainly on life-support. It won’t be long before two things have to happen. Either it needs to re-invent itself and show its’ relevance in live coverage, or it needs to die, as newspapers all over the country are doing.
Somehow, I get the feeling newspapers are going to be having company very soon!
Carry on world…you’re dismissed!