The Golden Age of Television
We are living “The Golden Age of Television” today. The audience today can enjoy the diverse and beautifully expansive way of storytelling on television and online, and give in to the streaming service inspired “binge-watching” behaviors. Is this the end of the theatrical features? I personally believe that the audience may long for a 90-minute spectacle after being over the “binge-watch” phenomenon. I’d say it will balance out and we will see both again — compelling features and television series.
The boom of television – in my humble view – was created by the streaming services that plan to push the network stations to the curb by stealing eyeballs. I am summing this up in a very simplified way, but various things played a role in the recent changes that occurred in the industry as it relates to the (re-)rise of television.
It’s all about eyeballs, either for advertising or subscription. Networks have to step it up with their programming and studios like Disney, Warners and others had to launch their own online presence. As a result, acquisition budgets were increased, especially from the premium channels that want to keep (and ideally increase) subscribers and not end up losing them to a Netflix, Amazon or a Hulu, among others. Network stations got more aggressive and creative. The shows we see today are mostly high-concept and with very diverse characters. A-level stars are moving from the big screen to the small screen and are getting paid very well for that. Limits are being pushed everywhere to create attention and to attract the audience.
Who are the TV kids on the block today?
Broadcast Networks and Cable Networks
At present, the networks in the US are broken down as follows:
- Broadcast Networks (i.e. ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, FOX ,CW)
- Cable Networks (i.e Discovery, A&E, STARZ, FX, AMC, ESPN, MTV, Weather Channel, etc)
The Premium Networks
HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, etc are ad-free cable networks. Free from advertising restrictions, the premium networks were able to produce adult themes and expanded plots, resulting in high-quality programming that supported “The Golden Age of Television”.
The OTT Services
OTT – “Over the Top” services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Vudu, iTunes steam content without a “box”, but via the internet. “Binge watching” gave OTT’s a strong push.
Streaming Devices & Smart TV’s
Roku TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Amazon Fire are USB sticks, which attached to their TV, allows viewers to watch their favorite shows.
Second Screen Platforms
Twitter, Facebook, and others started applications to allow viewers to watch content live and otherwise while having the option to interact with other viewers and friends. “Social TV” is applied by social networks Twitter and Facebook as they stream live content.
These are very many options for producers to launch a project, especially in view of the sky-high acquisition budgets which are being announced frequently. It is still not easy to waltz in and get a green-light. It’s about developing an idea to the best it can be and attaching elements to the idea, such as a strong showrunner, cast, director and maybe even a little financing.
It’s about making it easy for the executive to say yes knowing that he/she will not have to develop something from scratch. That’s not to say that certain networks don’t (want to ) develop something from scratch, but it appears chances are much higher for a project to be greenlit if it has valuable elements already attached and is ready to go.
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