Pay money for TELEVISION? PAH. Yeah right.
While interning at Showtime this past summer, I participated in an on-going study of the evolving TV audience; a focus group dissecting the rapidly progressive viewership trends of my generation – and more specifically, the effects of the internet on said viewership. The funny this is, there is a huge, seemingly irreconcilable disconnect between the old and new audiences. Most people over 30 aren’t satisfied with watching their shows off of a thirteen-inch screen; the youth’s demands of free dissemination and easily accessible content is the anomaly of our society. We are holding the industry hostage. Give us liberty or give us death.
But where did this sense of entitled entertainment come from?
Well, isn’t it obvious? It’s the fault of the platform, not the industry – we were introduced to the Internet as a place for free expression, a source of endless knowledge… as long as you pay your phone bill on tim of course
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Free. F-R-E-E. The birth of the Internet was the liberating revolution of information/expression and inter-personal connectivity. Think about what the original subscription expansion web-form was. Pornography; something outside of mainstream acceptability, outside of the realm acceptable entitlement – something with a very narrow and specific ad-market and cultural demographic.
And as with all technological and creative platforms, the internet has had to evolve to suit our cultural expectations and desires, finding new ways to spread entertainment and content – new platforms and structures, new pulls towards active participation and consumption.
The Internet is has quickly become “The Blob” of artistic socialism. It’s absorbed and encroached on the territory of all other forms of media, creating a culture of instant gratification and the deconstruction of traditionally paid-for content.
We want to watch WHATEVER we want, WHENEVER we want it… for FREE. Not only because of the traditional roots of the platform, but because of our recently growing participation within the medium. Thanks to the evolution of feel like partners in the perpetuation and the evolution of the web – we exist within the form as active creators, remixers and ethereal fans and artists – even if our format is on a Facebook page or on a youtube video, a blog or a p2p streaming website.
We live in a “post-network” era, at least structurally – where Showtime and HBO and FOX can’t hold on to their own content.
The internet is the commune, the network is a marriage. TV is going to have to embrace the chaos and look for new revenue streams. Sorry guys.