Ominous threats from the Internet during its early life suggested the erosion of traditional TV could turn into deep and dangerous Himalayan ice crevasses.
But that fear was quelled for years by reports that any and all exposure from the Internet, social media, search and online video actually fostered more TV viewing.
In a sort of reversal of fortune, the old fears have risen again, due to increasing evidence from subscription video on demand (SVOD) services such as Netflix, and other vagaries in the measurement of TV viewing.
TV stations haven’t been putting all the blame on networks and their potentially damaging Internet video efforts, but cable operators might do just that concerning Nickelodeon’s digital push.
Nickelodeon’s continued 30% rating declines and fears that Netflix deals have hurt its traditional cable viewership could mean some testy future cable operator negotiations, resulting in possible loss of overall distribution, according to Todd Juenger, media analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein.
One wonders: Why just Nickelodeon?
The CW – though it caters to women 18-34, not kids – also made deals with digital services that one might believe has caused some erosion. (Haven’t CW’s ratings been tumbling by double-digit percentages this year, even with the Warner Bros./CBS-owned network taking care to make “library” deals for previous seasons’ worth of shows?)
Nickelodeon also took some care in doing library deals. But kids 2-11 don’t watch TV the same way as women 18-34. Young kids and pre-school children are less worried about the timeliness of new series episodes. Not only that -- they don’t mind watching many repeats of episodes.
For their part, Viacom executives believe some of the Nielsen ratings still don’t make sense.
But in the future – with a diverse variety of series on many networks – one wonders when we’ll get to a point where the timeliness of TV series is less of a factor.
Years ago, when DVD sales were flying high, much of this was of concern. Yes there was some TV erosion – especially for network programs -- during those years. But DVD sales weren’t necessarily fingered as the problem, which was blamed more on cable networks with original programming that were gaining steam.
Next-day office chatter about TV shows is overrated, anyway. Haven’t seen any of Fox’s “24” series? Maybe you can get it at a service like Netflix, or some other SVOD. AMC’s first season of “The Walking Dead”? Hey, there’s no rush – and no water-cooler at my place of work anyway.