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Does the Television industry need a “Steve Jobs”?

An interesting article at the Hollywood Reporter argues that the Television industry needs a Steve Jobs – like visionary and needs it soon. While Television has been adapting (slowly) to the changes in viewer behavior it’s not particularly “customer friendly”.

Writer Tim Goodman identifies areas where the television industry has trained customers to be wary of their own offerings: nothing scripted shown in Summer can be good; don’t get too involved with a new show because we might cancel it at any moment; launching so many new shows in the Fall divides attention; and why are seasons such uniform lengths?

Although, as an aside, the issue of uniform 23 episode seasons is an American issue. British Television, for example, tends to run shows when the writers have great ideas for them, not to arbitrarily fill a schedule and keep producing just because there’s an audience.

Ratings are falling, and the balance of where viewing is going is heading toward cable – at least for quality! Broadcast networks have virtually ceded quality drama to cable networks. Increasingly the big networks are left with sports and reality shows that can aggregate a big-enough audience. Meanwhile, others – like Netflix – are funding quality television outside the traditional distribution channels. While this is interesting, it’s really just a change of funding, rather than a true revolutions.

The industry does need one, or more, visionaries who can “think different” because continuing to think the same and expecting different outcomes has been suggested is the very definition of insanity.

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  • Dave Bittner · March 18, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    Isn’t part of the tension here that for free television the customer isn’t the viewer, it’s the advertiser? Pay TV like HBO needs to please the viewer with quality programming, while free TV needs to deliver eyeballs to advertisers.

    • Author comment by Philip · March 18, 2013 at 1:25 pm

      Then there’s AMC with Mad Men and Breaking Bad – advertising supported but quality programming. HBO et al do have a clearer focus on who is the customer though, as you say.

  • David · March 18, 2013 at 1:00 pm


    What the industry needs most is better writers. At least in N.A.. I watched a promo for a newish series today and it was :30 seconds of cliches. You could not get me to watch a second of the show after seeing the drivel they were pushing.

    How many series are launched each year? How few are worth watching?

    • Author comment by Philip · March 18, 2013 at 1:27 pm

      No argument from me on the need for good writing. Great acting and production can’t save bad ideas and scripts. (Bad acting and production can ruin good ones, sadly.) The Hollywood Reporter article goes into the number of shows that go to production and how many fail quickly, causing audience lack of trust in new shows.



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