Posted by: thescoundrel | December 29, 2009

Network Television – Endangered Species

Is the life of free Network Television dying an expensive death? There are many sources predicting the death of free TV by as soon as 2011. Maybe the demise could hold off until 2012, which would be kind of ominous, maybe even ironic to those that claim television as a blight on our culture. It is not as crazy as it may sound to those whom have never considered paying – for the costs of cable and/or satellite television signals.

As an AP article points out network television is bleeding greenbacks and not showing the quality profits as cable/satellite stations. Plus some cable/satellite stations like HBO, Showtime, USA Network, SYFY Network, Lifetime, MTV etc. have began to create their own original programming and movies. With the prodigious procreation of new cable/satellite only stations with a considerable amount of quality original programming- the available advertising dollars are spread thin. And cable/satellite stations are more creative in their selection of advertisers. I can remember 1-800 phone-sex advertising was common in the early 90’s on cable shows like the USA Up All Night with Rhonda Shear late night movie programming. Cable/satellite has also progressed (regressed?) to numerous 24 hour and late-night home-shopping programs; some even consist of selling adult themed sex toys. Trust me there is something a little unnerving, when you fall asleep in your La-z-boy rocker/recliner watching a family oriented television show and wake up to two hot babes selling forearm sized dildos on your 48″ HDTV. The cable/satellite channels have many more advertising sources to create revenue than are possible for standard broadcast television stations.

It was just about nine years ago when I got into a heated discussion over HDTV versus Standard Broadcasting TV signals, with an individual whom preached that broadcast television would always be available in standard format. I said at the time HDTV was a mandated signal switch by the Government and that stations would only broadcast in non-HDTV format as long as it was profitable. Many people told me – that I was talking crazy talk. I was talking reality that has now come to fruition. So when I read an article like the above AP story, where it claims that free network television may be going the way of the dinosaur, I tend to believe them. Companies need profit to operate and as sources of advertising revenue grow thinner – the weaker stations will die off. I suppose they could all apply for a government bailout or for endangered species protection from Obama.



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  2. Even if true, can’t say I’ll miss it since I only watch three network tv shows on a regular basis anyway.

  3. I wouldn’t miss it either. The news has turned into opinions and the programming leaves a lot to be desired. I’m sure I could find NCIS and Cops on another channel.

  4. I do not think you will see the total demise of network tv. I do agree with the article in that “free” network TV is in the process of being evolved into just another pay channel. When satellite TV was first catching on – before Direct TV and DISH TV- it was basically people willing to pay large amounts of money to buy huge satellite dishes. I had a relative that was in the satellite business at that time. Many of those channels were simply broadcast television and superstation feeds that were bounced of satellite to local networks and cable companies. But there was also pay channels that were scrambled where those satellite owners had to buy descrambling boxes to view what is now called premium pay channels like HBO, Showtime, Playboy etc… As that first wave of satellite systems started getting popular -nearly everybody started scrambling their channels. That is about the time Direct TV started off. I have Direct TV. Unlike local cable, with Direct TV, you have to purchase local channels extra. With cable the cost is figured into the original package price. The cost to cable and satellite for local channels is a negotiated deal with the local network corporations. But as was noted in the article – the National Broadcasting networks are starting to demand a higher price for their product. It is possible many Iowans with cable may miss the Orange Bowl as there is a program cost fight between one of the cable providers and the network that will be covering the game. In the end that is what you will see – channels like ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox etc.. will all become pay network station just like cable channels such as TNT, ESPN etc.. The local companies themselves could very well find themselves paddling up a creek with a broken paddle. Things like local news could suffer under that type of a situation.

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