The Death Of TV Will Not Be Televised

  • by January 29, 2007
Except for the broken hearts of a few million teenagers, the cancellation of "The O.C." elicited little surprise or anger from most folks. The Fox series, which began airing in 2003, was a huge success and cultural phenomenon. Industry pundits are speculating on reasons for the show's demise: its wide popularity burned itself out as it was no longer hip and cool, writing intended to spur ratings actually did the opposite, etc. etc. But, whatever the true reason is for the show's audience to leave and the axe to fall, the end of "The O.C." is a media omen we shouldn't ignore. The shjow was a new version of an old format, the trials and tribulations of teens -- teens who are very good-looking and well-dressed. with raging hormones. Its predecessors include the likes of "Beverly Hills 90210," "Dawson's Creek," and even "Saved by the Bell." These series, however, lasted more than just four seasons. First aired in 1990, "90210" lasted 10 years, following the lives of the characters through puberty and into almost adulthood. Dawson muddled by his creek for six years, from 1997-2003, and now the alma mater of his crowd are marrying movie stars and showing up on the cover of the Enquirer. What does it mean that a show that should appeal to teenagers and folks who are nostalgic about their teen years can't stay on the air?



Could this be the beginning of a crack in the façade of the TV and its accompanying upfronts? How will buyers have any faith whatsoever that shows that they think they will be buying will be around? Some shows get cancelled every year by natural selection, but if shows start having shorter and shorter life spans, what will be the point? The networks will have to use the money for the upfront parties on actually hiring writers and actors again and maybe creating series that are worth watching over the longer term. But if not, what does this mean for online?

Live action and/or motion picture content, video content or whatever we want to call it, will always find a place online. Some series have already moved to online-only distribution. Major networks are releasing shows for online viewing as the credits roll on TV. Some producers and directors are going straight to online to expose their talents. Check out my favorite, "FlushTV," about a family of Detroit plumbers, at The iTunes store has hundreds of shows, ready to watch. Slingbox makes your PC a TV anywhere in the world. Are the TV guys paying attention?

TV is dying a long, slow painful death. Forget about the :30 spot being dead, I'm talking content here. And when the next generation of viewers is fickle enough to leave something like "The O.C." behind, future shows are going to have a much harder time garnering any of these folks to comprise a worthwhile mass audience that a buyer will want to buy. When it finally happens, I'll be here at my PC, watching YouTube and texting "I told you so" to whomever will read it.

Next story loading loading..