On the first day of the Tour de France this past weekend, I was not home. Given the rise of all things streaming and the like, I didn't know where this big live sports event was playing -- network, streaming, or whatever.
In my room at Embassy Suites, the LG TV on the wall in front of me gave me no clue. And I was in a hurry. It's a live sports event, and the race was underway.
Could it be USA Network, NBC TV Network, Peacock, NBC Sports Gold Pass? I couldn't figure it out. (NBC Corp. no longer has doesn’t have NBCSN -- the NBC Sports Network).
Then I realized: let me just try the NBC TV Network through its local affiliate -- the path of least resistance at the moment.
Still, I needed to become more focused: Channel numbers one through 10 seemed like the obvious choice.
Yes! Right there, live on NBC. No delay, no streaming loading -- no latency. And at that moment, I wondered if this was a good lesson for a broadcast network's current modern-day net worth.
Okay -- I probably need to come clean: Older people are fairly swift at defaulting when it comes to programming discovery -- including this author.
Some legacy TV executives still hold on to dreams that linear broadcast networks have a place in the future.
But this runs headlong into current trends -- including the knowledge that one's teenage son or daughter may be virtually ignorant when it comes to negotiating a remote control to get to a specific over-the-air TV station/network and a specific program. (Mind you, doing an internet search for the same TV-based content is a different matter).
So let's look at the past for some historical perspective. Take radio, for example.
Before the rise of TV in the 1950s, radio was in the truest sense of the word “broadcasting” -- not just appealing to the widest range of people, but giving them the widest range of content. This was not just news, talks shows, sports, but also variety, scripted comedy and dramatic shows.
And when TV gained prominence, radio abandoned the former to focus only on news, talk and sports broadcasting. (Still, the BBC and other radio networks can air some scripted drama/comedy content)
Now here is the easy part of this quick quiz: What will remain for linear TV networks? Of course, it's news, sports, and other major live content, according to many experts.
But we might hope that whatever future TV content comes along -- perhaps someone in immediate need of quick, professionally produced content -- some non-news, non sports content will find a way to bubble up on through whatever memory of a network association works best for them.
For big-time -- or even modest -- events, it is best to have a number one through 10 in mind. If that doesn't work out, you can always go in the breakaway.