Broadcast Television Is Already Dead

I struggle a lot with the way that I watch TV. I, like many in my generation, didn’t feel the need to buy a TV and pay for cable when I moved into my first apartment. I can watch almost any new show online within days, catch up on the plethora of content on Netflix or HBO Go or Amazon Prime, or watch live on my parent’s Slingbox. Not everyone has these same options, but I talk to person after person who claims they don’t watch new shows because they don’t have TV anymore. Their laptops are just the same as a real TV. I watch more TV than anyone I’ve ever met and I only use my television to play Playstation or watch Netflix via Playstation.

Between that and DVR, I don’t know how advertisers expect to reach anyone. I actively do anything to avoid ads. If a show has ads, I’ll watch something else that doesn’t (i.e. Netflix) and eventually it’ll come out in a form with no ads to continue this cycle and distract me from a future ad-ridden show. Even if I intend to watch something via DVR, I wait 8 minutes to start for every 30 minutes of TV, so I have my own commercial buffer. There is no appointment TV anymore except sports.

Changing The Model

The question becomes how do we create more opportunities to show advertisements without making it seem like a bother? Commercials are valueless if they’re skipped via DVR or AdBlock or any of the millions of ways we avoid those stupid ads. We live in an era of a la carte VOD and nobody will choose advertising a la carte. It has always been a necessary evil we try to get around, but it’s time to compromise. New content no longer means anything. It’s now just unwatched content. And we can and will wait for that content to reach us cheaper than sooner. And when we can’t differentiate between cheaper because it’s all free, we choose easier. Right now, that’s laptop, or tablet, or whatever portable option.

There’s a solution to solve all of this and Aereo kicked the broadcast hornets nest to try to force it into existence. Broadcast television is free, but the method of distribution is outdated. It’s becoming obsolete. The internet is fast enough now to allow streaming. That’s why NBC, FOX, ABC, CBS, and the others need to suck it up and create a way to stream live broadcast TV to the masses via the internet. The easier it is to access new content, even with commercials, the more likely we are to watch it. By staying pure and keeping TV on TV, they are alienating the next generation and allowing TV to lose market share in the busy schedules of young viewers.

The issue is local stations. I’ll admit this is an area where I’m a bit ignorant, but the issue with live streaming NBC for example is that NBC in Washington, DC is different than NBC in Los Angeles, CA. Local news and things like change things. However, local broadcast networks are the problem. They are the obsolete distribution model because they are geographically limited. Unfortunately, it’s too late for them. The way that iHeartRadio makes local radio available nationally via stream is the only compromise. They have been living on borrowed time long enough. They are the ones that need to adapt to survive. The larger broadcast network entities just need to accept that they need to update for technology’s sake. Otherwise, shows like A to Z and Selfie will continue to have limited reach in the early goings, while their potential audience never gets a chance to taste the offering until it’s too late. The failure of broadcast comedy in the Fall 2014 season will start a downward trend in quality and quantity unless the industry changes and allows a chance to survive.