Is Televison Dying?

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Perhaps one of the most pervasive inventions of human society has been television. Ever since its creation almost eighty years ago, it has become a major part in and of our lives; allowing us to see many historical events such as the moon landing, the Civil Rights Movement, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and other very important events. It also has surpassed the newspaper as the main form in which people obtain not only information about local, national, and world events, but entertainment as well. Yet, with the advent of the Internet and decisions made by networks that seems to make little to no sense to audiences, it seems as though television is slowly dying out, with little to no chance of revival.

Submitted: July 22, 2009

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Submitted: July 22, 2009

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Perhaps one of the most pervasive inventions of human society has been television. Ever since its creation almost eighty years ago, it has become a major part in and of our lives; allowing us to see many historical events such as the moon landing, the Civil Rights Movement, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and other very important events. It also has surpassed the newspaper as the main form in which people obtain not only information about local, national, and world events, but entertainment as well. Yet, with the advent of the Internet and decisions made by networks that seems to make little to no sense to audiences, it seems as though television is slowly dying out, with little to no chance of revival.
The Internet is perhaps one of the biggest threats to television presently. First, there are sites that allow people to view their favorite shows at anytime that they so desire. Sites such as hulu.com, Dailymotion.com, Youtube.com, surfthechannel.com are just some of the few sites that allow users to watch their shows for free. These sites host shows that either are still on television, were cancelled in the prime of their run, or is not available in some areas. For example, hulu.com has shows such as The (New) Outer Limits and Family Guy. The former was cancelled sometime around 2002 whereas the latter was cancelled once before being brought back for new seasons. Both are very popular among hulu users. Also, sites such as Dailymotion and Youtube allow users to upload episodes of shows. Granted, episodes of shows is considered breaking copyright laws and many of the videos on Youtube are taken down; Dailymotion on the other hand is pretty lax with copyright and allow users to post many episodes from their favorite shows.
The second threat that the internet presents is with user-created content. Sites such as Dailymotion and Youtube allow users to post their creative, impulsive, original, and possibly deranged videos on the Internet for the entire world to see. Now, while some of the videos are mediocre at best, most of the time some of the videos are actually pretty good. The users also do not have to stifle their creativity and try to force their video to fit some sort of mold as a television show has to in order to be shown. For a television producer to get their show produced, they have to first pitch their idea to the network. This phase alone can be a long, arduous, and tedious process and can involve several different networks if one’s writing differs from what the network normally shows. And even when the plot is finally approved, there are so many stipulations and conditions within the contract that the original premise of the show may be lost and the new premise just a former shell of its original form. In comparison, the average youtube user, for example, really does not have to do much. They just have to come up with an idea that they like and skillfully film their ideas. Then they just have to upload them onto the internet for the world to see. Furthermore, the users do not have to worry about networks forcing shows to change their formats or influencing episodes to obtain viewers. The users only truly have to worry about their videos being of a poor quality, causing viewers to be turned off from their products. Unlike the users, television producers are essentially bounded to the network and if the network demands the producers to initiate a change, whether it’s for the best or not, more often than not the producers will have to do it. This brings me to my next point.
Executive decisions by networks are probably the number one reason for television agonizing demise. To many viewers, when a network makes a decision, they always end up wondering about the sanity of the execs. One decision that angers the viewers is deciding to revamp the network. This is often a ploy used by a network desperately trying to bring in a new viewer demographic. Examples of this include the Sci-Fi/Syfy channel and Cartoon Network. With the former, The Sci-Fi channel changed their name to The Syfy channel earlier July; one of their main reasons being that the execs felt, “…much cooler, much more cutting-edge, much more hip…” with the new name. Another reason is so that they can have “…an umbrella brand we can attach to new businesses [to]…”  Now granted, the last reason is semi valid for it would be hard to differentiate themselves if they decided to expand their business platform. Yet, as most viewers pointed out, they had already differentiated by choosing to cater to the sci-fi crowd, providing a much needed niche for t. Furthermore, the network’s decision to air shows such as wrestling and sub-par monster movies has damaged their loyal viewers’ respect for the network.
In a similar vein, Cartoon Network has recently begun to show live-action movies and shows, moving away from their ‘twenty-four hours a day cartoon show’ format in an attempt to attract more viewers to their network as well. Understandably, most long time viewers are quite upset with their move, saying that live-action has no place for a network that is supposedly dedicated to cartoons and named after them. Furthermore, almost all of the new reality shows have been done before. For example, ‘The Othersiders’ is about a group of kids who go to sites reportedly haunted in order to see if there are actually ghosts there. The Sci-Fi/Syfy channel has a show called Ghost Hunters, which is also about a group going to sites reportedly haunted by ghosts to find out if there are ghosts. It is also apparent that the new reality shows are hindering the quality of the cartoons. Most of the cartoons are of such a dubious quality and do not quite capture the spirit of the Cartoon Network of yesteryear. And sadly, there are more upon more examples of networks cancelling shows that could have brought in a wide variety of viewers but were canceled without being giving a fair shot. Shows including Justice, Tru Calling, Drive, and others are just a few examples of shows having very unique plotlines being canned long before they should have been, all because the network did not gain ratings as fast as they thought they should.
As for the eponymous question, “Is television dying,” I think it is all but appropriate to answer ‘yes.’ With networks focusing more on garnering a large diverse viewing audience instead of having unique well-thought out shows, it seems to have greatly weakened the respect that long time viewers have for the networks and television in general. Furthermore, with the internet having sites that are allowed to stream television shows and sites in which users can upload their on creative creations, more and more people turn to the internet for sources of entertainment instead of television. However, this isn’t to say that the networks can not change all of this around. If the networks began to focus on creating better shows with intelligent plotlines to bring in viewers instead of constantly trying to rebrand themselves and creating shows that are mainly focused on bringing in people who may have not even known about that network, they would be able to bring in new viewers simply by word-of-mouth. Otherwise, television will probably die out around 2013-2018.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Bibliography
Demand Entertainment. "So you wanna pitch a tv show?" 2009. soyouwanna.com. 22 July 2009 <http://www.soyouwanna.com/site/syws/tvpitch/tvpitch6.html>.
Hauman, Glenn. "Cartoon Network announces 2009-2010 plans." 26 March 2009. comicmix. 22 July 2009 <http://www.comicmix.com/news/2009/03/26/cartoon-network-announces-2009-2010-plans/>.
STAFF, SCI-Fi WIRE. "http://www.comicmix.com/news/2009/03/26/cartoon-network-announces-2009-2010-plans/." 20 March 2009. SCI-FiWire. 22 July 2009 <http://scifiwire.com/2009/03/sci-fi-president-dave-how.php>.
staff, The Futon Critic. "Cartoon Network, TNT Among latest Scheduling Changes." 10 July 2009. The Futon Critic. 22 July 2009 <http://cartoon-network-news.newslib.com/story/9822-1153/>.


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