Commentary

TV Returns To The Tale

There's a new energy in television today--perhaps even the emergence of a new era. Or maybe it's just simple desperation that is bringing better content to the fore. Media companies continue in the struggle to connect with ever-elusive viewers; fragmentation has now been with us for many years, as the multiplicity of viewing choices expands and audience levels decline.

Now the industry faces the new challenge of technology fragmentation, with new digital media devices ushering in portable viewing, VOD, and out-of-home viewing experiences. As everyone sees, the future is a bit out of focus, but indeed quite frightening. Loss of control and lack of predictability cause that reaction when considering the investments at stake. But there is a subtle difference apparent with this particular television season, as can be seen with the quality of the writing, the shooting, the attention to detail, and the risk-taking.The creative juices are coming back, as is the "return of the tale."

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A host of new and returning dramas is focusing on tales with depth, intrigue, and dramatic twists. It has made viewing more rewarding, and has pulled me back from the Internet to the family room. Thankfully, reality shows are waning a bit, and copycat, formula writing is in full retreat. Television is richer, and creative companies are working harder to develop good entertainment.

Go to Best Buy and see the message firsthand. Rich television entertainment is flying off the store shelves, with previous season DVDs of Fox's "24," ABC's "Lost," and many other shows ringing up at the cash register. It reinforces the central consumer-to-media company message--that good content sells, and really good tales actually sell well. Sure, the dynamics of viewing are changing, the pathways to the viewer expanding, the economics full of uncertainty... but the central commandment, that of telling the tale well, will keep this industry buoyant for years to come.

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