Everyone Needs More TV Shorthand, But Can It Replace Shows Themselves?
Take sports. While big-time live football, baseball and basketball drive sports-targeted networks, highlights are the bread-and-butter stuff that feeds viewers’ appetites in between the high-profile live viewing.
ESPN, now valued as a multibillion-dollar empire, has made a good living this way. You can see why Fox Sports 1 wanted to get into the business. Executives will tell you the move was all about the still-growing live sports business. But it was also about highlights -- and the repurposing of those highlights.
Mainstream shows are in the same area these days. There isn’t a drama out there that doesn’t want to offer viewers a recap of what’s happened previously on the series they are about to watch, with the expected preface, “Previously on....”
Not just the shows themselves, but also an increasing number of websites now offer viewers “highlights” of previously aired episodes. No one wants to be left out of the mix, especially when hanging around the watercooler... er, make that a digital watercooler.
Getting more sophisticated, viewers look to read only the best recappers to get the complete in-depth analysis of what they may have missed. Some TV recappers are receiving advance review copies of upcoming episodes so that they cam post their recaps faster.
One can understand all this: There’s too much TV to keep up with. While offering highlights and recaps of programming is important for promotion, perhaps producers should do the same – why not expert “directors commentary” tracks, like those done on DVD versions of theatrical movies?
Maybe for a price they can go even one step better, and offer a shortcut plan for viewers. Looking for slow moving, but emotional scenes? Just fast-forward to 4:35 of your 44-minute drama on your DVR. Looking for the action sequence? That comes much later, at 37:50.
Or better still: Press “1” to see the whole episode; press “2” to see the abbreviated version (with crazy-fast analysis).