Has Digital Distribution Made TV Stronger?
Television is far from dead, says former IFC and Sundance Channel President Evan Shapiro, who has just taken a new position as president of Participant Media’s television division, in an interview with Forbes. In fact, he says, “technology that everyone sees as a threat to TV’s throne as cultural king is the very thing that enables its dominance.” Indeed, Shapiro cites a recent Forrester Research report that finds that Netflix, iTunes, Hulu, DVRs, and the like have added 25% more TV viewing to our lives, which equates roughly to an hour more per day and 15 days' worth per year.
Moreover, TV is “more of a creative and cultural force than it’s ever been,” thanks to the proliferation of cable TV networks and the resulting viewer fragmentation, which he says has redefined the very idea of a hit show. “Freed from having to appeal to the lowest common denominator, TV has become more varied, more ambitious, more targeted and far more satisfying to its audiences,” he argues -- adding that such niche hits as “Mad Men,” “Game of Thrones” and “Jersey Shore” would not have been possible in the 60s and 70s. Because of this, Shapiro says, content is still king — good content is in higher demand than ever, whereas distribution has been commoditized.