Three weeks into the new TV season, what have we learned so far? For one: Critics -- even with some strong consensus -- don't always have the answer when it comes to a question about future TV entertainment (Hello, "Lone Star").
The Tribune Company has enough problems, what with its troubling billions in debt. Who knows if it had some retro-personality issues as well -- looking to create a "Mad Men"-like 1960s environment?
CBS isn't worried about the future of broadcast television because it believes in the promise of video-on-demand. That's the always lurking-in-the-background technology that won't allow viewers to fast-forward through possibly anything -- even commercials.
From Fox's "Glee" to USA Network's "White Collar," every program this year seems to be doing those unusually long-ish, content-commercial vignettes where a sponsored bit of content interrupts the usual series of 30-second commercials.
How does one buy into a cable network these days? By having some big money -- and a big name, of course. Long gone are the days when big cable companies like Comcast, which had significant equity interest in a cable network, could bang out a slow drumbeat in building cable subscribers from other cable operators around the country. Now the easier, almost necessary, way to gain a foothold is to turn around a struggling or mediocre channel.
After 14 years of calling itself MSNBC.com, the Web site's management wants a name change -- because the political slant of its related TV network doesn't jive with the site's more straight-ahead news service. Good luck trying to rebuild yourself in the next 14 years.
The value of "share" and "search" on the Internet has long been debated. But for traditional TV marketing, such concepts are still relatively new. What will they mean in the new age of Internet-enabled TVs?
The media business is no stranger to legal proceedings. Now some renegade Internet video services are tossing a new wrench into the works, challenging the broadcast networks by running network and local TV programming online -- with essentially not one business agreement with those networks or stations.
More than in previous years, the drumbeat has grown louder for media sellers to consider what extended time-shifted viewing means. Because time-shifting behavior has increased, it's not uncommon for a TV network to say its better performing shows have grown by 30% or 40% or more in program ratings after seven days. According to media agency RPA, the average program minute grew on average 16% after seven days versus its live airing in the 2009-2010 broadcast season.
According to recent research, a third of Internet viewers who watch a typical three- to five-minute video clip on YouTube will depart within 30 seconds after watching. Twenty percent leave within the first 10 seconds. But what about traditional TV? We typically know the drill for a weakening show: If the second half-hour (or 15 minutes) of a show has significantly lower viewership than its corresponding first part, that's bad news. Viewers can be bored with the content. But it doesn't seem that in-program TV erosion of a specific show is speeding up.