Saturday, May 6, 2017

Enough Television Already!

More and more television programming is coming not from Networks or cable channels, but from online websites.    How much more television can we stand?

Netflix has morphed, and not too subtly, from a "movie" streaming service to a on-demand cable channel.   Much of the great content of yore is missing from the streaming service, and more and more content is now created by Netflix, and viewers are encouraged to "binge-watch" drama series that are little more than soap operas about horrible people.

You watch a few of these shows, and you start to realize you are being baited.   The plots meander and twist, each episode and each season, as new characters are introduced and old ones killed off or dropped.   Plot lines that go nowhere are inexplicably dropped, perhaps to be picked up in a season or two.  It is just lazy writing and they count on you starting to like the characters (the M*A*S*H effect) so you tune in, even if nothing really happens.

Netflix has gone nuts with new original content, but it all sounds alike after a while, just as reality shows sound alike on cable.  How many shows can you do about restoring hot-rods you found in a storage locker while trapped in a rented house that you are buying-and-flipping while you do a secret remodel with the couple that you've swapped lives with?

Again, as I noted in my last posting, this reminds me of the car business.   GM, Ford, and Chrysler are the cable television and broadcast networks - offering de-contented content in the form of cheap-to-make reality shows and panel talk shows.   People are tiring of this and want something new.

These new web-based streaming "channels" offering original content are the Honda, Toyota, and Nissan, perhaps, offering a better quality and more expensive product.   But then again, once you've owned a beige Camry or Accord, you get pretty bored with it, as well.  Yes, it is well-made.  No, it is not very exciting.

Maybe after a while, what you pine for is a bicycle.  Read a good book.

What got me started on this was an article recently that Facebook has thrown its hat into the "New original series!" ring, offering its own content online shortly, in the form of television programming on demand.    I guess they saw money on the table and thought they should go for their slice of the pie.

And while George Bush allegedly said "make the pie higher!"  I don't think there is enough pie here to go around.   Simply stated, there is a saturation point in these dramedy-comma or whatever they call them programs - adult soap operas.    You can't expect people to "binge watch" every last damn thing, and Netflix's experience with this points to the problem.   While some of their "Netflix Original Content" programs have been successful, others are garnering only a star or two on Netflix's scoring system (which is surprising, as everyone assumes they spoof this system anyway - why not award all your own programs five stars?  They need to contract with a Russian troll farm to make this happen).

And even "successful" programs such as "House of Cards" (which is not really "original" programming, but like so much else of American television, a re-make of a British programme) get thin and tired after a while.   After so many seasons, you just stop caring about these awful people and their stupid problems.

Now, multiply this by ten or a hundred - are there enough people out there who really want to watch all this content?   Or like the car business, are we flooding the market with capacity and not enough customers?

I spend far too much time these days staring at computer screens as it is - I want to do this less and less.  And no, I don't want to replace that time wasted with "augmented reality" or 3-D glasses.   Television, computers, the internet, smart phones - they take hours and hours out of your day.  Hours that cannot be replaced.

Oh, wait, what am I saying?  I am a "content provider" now, who makes money whenever people read my drivel.   Keep reading my blog and don't consume other people's content.   That's the name of the game, right?