How Do You Watch TV?

Estimated reading time: 4 minute(s)

old-tvAre you a current TV show watcher? Do you watch one or more new and/or current television shows as they air new episodes weekly? I don’t qualify as (anywhere close to) an avid current TV Watcher, but I do enjoy a few currently running shows.

One characteristic of many current shows (at least, the ones I watch?) is that they have a continuous and developing plot line. If you do enjoy watching newer shows every week (following that unfolding story) well, unfortunately you often are left hanging.

For example, I just learned that a show I started watching towards the end of its first season was not renewed for more episodes following its second season. They probably thought they would be renewed because there was really no resolution whatsoever to the various plot lines.

This happened to me a few years ago when I began watching the Sarah Connor Chronicles, a now-defunct TV series based on the Terminator movies. It was canceled after its second season, leaving every plot line dangling helplessly in the unpredictable winds of ratings…

I also learned this week that another show I had been watching this past year was not renewed beyond its first season. Their story was somewhat resolved as they were notified of the non-renewal with enough time to rewrite the last few episodes to be more of a series finale. Whew!

So what’s the deal here? Is the most frustrating part that the show doesn’t run very long? Or is it just frustrating that they leave you (permanently) hanging when a show is canceled before it’s story is “finished”?

OR, is it possibly the most frustrating that the networks who carry these shows only use live TV as their metric for which shows are “successful” and which are not?

Yep. It’s that!

I never watch live TV. EVER. We have kids! We have a schedule! Who can sit down in the evenings and watch a TV show? (And who wants to do that without being able to forward through the commercials?) I think Jen and I have watched a combined three episodes of live TV in the past… maybe six or seven years?

I watch any current TV shows via Hulu or iTunes (if I really like it). Don’t you? Do you watch regular TV at the regular, scheduled time? We don’t even have cable here… just Netflix, Amazon Prime, and then free Hulu (and other internet content). (And of course, can purchase or rent things via iTunes, Amazon, et al.)

Really… when will these guys change their paradigm? Their thinking is very outdated. Live TV should be one of the factors in determining audience, but the main or only one? That article said one of the shows canceled from last fall had a huge DVR audience. How can they cancel a show because its viewers watch it later, on their own schedule?


And that doesn’t even factor in the online services like Hulu and Amazon/iTunes. I’d assume plenty of people watch current shows via Hulu, despite the fact that the content providers try desperately to make you not want to. Some shows are available on Hulu a mere eight days after they air initially on TV, some are thirty days delayed. (Some are only one day delayed. That’s nice.) Also, some shows are only available in standard definition, while others are available in HD, but only on certain devices. (And not on a computer… which is how we watch TV in our house!)

Ugh… It really does make me angry sometimes, the short-sightedness of these people. The greed and lust for power, control. Yuck.

(These people of course being the Time Warners, NBC Universal, Paramount… and so on. I’d rather not give them more time here.)

The ridiculous way that content is still delivered is mind boggling to me. You have to pay an outrageous monthly fee to receive hundreds of channels—that you mostly do not want—in order to watch a few shows you’d like to see every week… and then those get canceled because you use your DVR to watch them on your schedule?? What in the world?

And what of iTunes and Amazon, where you can pay $20-$40 or so to subscribe to a season’s worth of shows (downloaded and/or available very soon after their air date… which, is also an archaic practice…) Do those count towards the content providers’ ratings system? When someone is willing to pay money to watch a show… it should count double. Or triple!

Eventually everyone will catch up. Everything is always about money. Always. So, once someone discovers a way to satisfy the consumer’s desire for direct access to content and a way to maximize the monitization of that content, then we’ll have the new paradigm.

For now, it’s frustration for we who have moved on to a new model while we wait for the old school content providers to “catch up” (or, give in)… or… there is a reason that piracy is a problem. (And it’s not because people just want free stuff! It’s equally or more because of these ridiculous ways of thinking by the “old school” content providers.)

I’ll stick with Hulu and Netflix (old TV shows are still awesome!) and the occasional iTunes or Amazon purchase.

That is, until I come up with a way to bring the whole system down myself! Who says I can’t be the one to invent the next breakthrough technology? 🙂


  1. If a show doesn’t rate well the networks can’t charge advertisers as much to advertise with them. Networks make their money from ad revenue. Once a show reaches a point where its ratings are so low the network would be better off trying something else in that time slot, that show gets cancelled.

    DVR views count in the ratings, but on a weighted scale because DVR viewers tend to skip commercials. As an advertiser, I’m going to discount those views when determining where I put my money. And live TV viewing is still, by far the largest and most measurable audience. It’s not even close.

    You would not be enjoying these shows on Netflix and Hulu had networks not spent gobs of money putting them on the air in the first place. Especially a show that’s crazy expensive to produce, like one based on the Terminator series.

    That’s why we’re a loooooong way from the day where live TV and TV networks will become irrelevant to the point where they need to change their paradigm. Who’s going to underwrite the new, untested shows?

    Even in the case of Arrested Development coming to Netflix this year. That show would not have had the cult following that warranted its rerelease on Netflix if it weren’t on broadcast television originally.

    Until there’s an insanely popular show that makes gobs of money that came about through some other content provider like Netflix or Amazon Prime, it’s not going to change.

    This is just like our sports conversation. As non-cable/satellite subscribers, you and I are the outliers. About 92% of the country subscribes to one of those two services. And even those who are over-air only are watching broadcast TV. Netflix/Hulu use is supplemental for most people.


    1. I understand we’re a “long way” from content direct to users, but that’s only because we are stuck in this “network” model.

      Since the technology is there now for content creators to get their content directly to the viewer/listener … why wouldn’t they do that?

      Let’s say a show has a small rating, maybe 2 million viewers, if they all pay maybe $30-$35/season (direct to the content creator) that’s revenue (direct to content creator) of $70M. Per season! So…

      I even think ads will be at least different (thanks to DVRs and other commercial-free or commercial-less content delivery platforms) … product placement? endorsements (where applicable) … and also content creators would manage ads, not a network, etc.

      And we don’t need networks to discover new shows, really… um… we have Facebook/Twitter, etc. No?

      Technology IS changing the landscape, whether these guys (and users, actually) like it or not.

      We’re not “outliers” … we’re pioneers.


      1. More numbers: If the viewer purchases each episode, the content creator can charge more… if they sell ads to bundle with their directly distributed content, then they could even charge less (if needed) AND, if some of the more popular shows, like one of the CSI shows I think had an audience of near 20 million people. That’s a staggering $600M per season.

        Technology is definitely reducing—eliminating—the gap between content creator and content consumer.

        The loser here is the network or current “content provider” … and boy are they “losers”.


  2. “Let’s say a show has a small rating, maybe 2 million viewers, if they all pay maybe $30-$35/season (direct to the content creator) that’s revenue (direct to content creator) of $70M. Per season! So…”

    You’re forgetting something. It takes a crap ton of money to produce a show in the first place, even before you can make it available – no matter the channel. Where does that money come from? If a production company dumps millions of dollars into a show to produce an entire season in advance to maybe sell on iTunes, PRAYING that word of mouth will spread on Facebook and Twitter, and then it flops, that company is out of business.

    Pitching execs, producing a pilot and getting the network to banrkoll the rest is how (good) shows are going to get made for the foreseeable future.

    And – speaking as an advertiser – product placement would be an added value to me. But it is most definitely not as impactful or as valuable to me as a :30 spot.


    1. Here’s the thing: there’s always money somewhere.

      If you as a content creator believe in your content/product… it’s likely that you can find someone to back your “initial offering” … an investor of some sort (or investors). Say some show becomes wildly successful (larger audience of maybe 15-20 million viewers). That money can invest in other content, which makes more money, and … well, you know how investing works. (And, of course, there is always a risk.)

      I think technology has brought the consumer and the creators closer together than ever before. (Not only the capability, but affordability of high-level production as well.) So once the content creators begin getting brave enough to make their own stuff, at their own financial risk (or an investor’s risk) … things will begin tipping toward direct-to-consumer, on-demand content.

      That will be neat. 🙂

      Netflix is trying a few original series, sort of as an independent publisher. That will be interesting to follow. And Glenn Beck has created a whole network for programming, primarily delivered online (though he’s trying to offer his channel to traditional content distributors, too, I think, like satellite/cable, etc). He is interesting because he sees the direction that media can and is moving, but he comes from a radio/tv background, so has LOTS of traditional thinking still (while pushing the envelope at the same time).


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.